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5 Fun Facts About February 29 In Alaska History

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1. In 1900, leap year overshadowed a major development in Alaska's transportation history. February 29 was officially the day of incorporation for the White Pass and Yukon Route, a railway that connected Skagway, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon.

2. In 1940, February 29 was the day of the infamous Alaska-Siberia (ALSIB) air route test flight. The Soviet Union sent five bombers to Fairbanks, Alaska, to test a new aviation route that would connect the two countries. However, the mission was plagued with engine problems and the planes were forced to make emergency landings in Canada.

3. Alaska celebrated its statehood on February 26, 1959, but the process was not officially completed until February 29, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into law.

4. In 1964, Alaska experienced a devastating earthquake on February 27, but the leap year added an extra day of uncertainty and worry. The earthquake, which lasted for four minutes, registered a 9.2 on the Richter scale and caused extensive damage throughout the state.

5. February 29, 2000, marked the beginning of Alaska's historic Bristol Bay salmon fishery. For the first time in 50 years, fisherman were allowed to use an ancient fishing method called set-netting to catch salmon in the bay. The fishery is now a major source of income for the state's fishing industry.
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