AHS Blog

Digital Collection: The Alaska Railroad’s Kuskokwim Reconnaissance Expedition

Date Posted: July 7, 2013       Categories: 49 History

Members of the Kuskokwim Reconnaissance expedition near
McGrath, September 1914 (UW Special Collections, McPherson
K458, 495.2-45a)

In 1914, following an act of Congress that authorized construction of an Alaska railroad, the Alaska Engineering Commission (AEC) began studying different routes to transport passengers and natural resources across the territory. The AEC sent one party on the “Kuskokwim Reconnaissance,” an expedition to survey a route from the coastal terminus at Seward through the Kuskokwim and Iditarod districts. Led by James L. McPherson, the team reconnoitered country along what today is the Iditarod Trail.

The University of Washington’s Suzzallo-Allen Libraries is now exhibiting “Reconnaissance Survey for the Alaska Railroad: James L. McPherson’s Kuskokwim Reconnaissance Collection,” an online exhibit that features scans of the original maps and nearly 300 photographs of the McPherson expedition. The exhibit is available here: