In 1899, the U.S. Army built a pack trail for summer use between the port of Valdez and Eagle, which passed through the Copper River Valley. In the early 1900’s, the trail was widened and became the Richardson Highway. We are camping just off that highway.
Construction for the Glenn Highway began at a camp on the Richardson Highway in the Copper River Valley named Glennallen after two U.S. Army explorers of the late 19th century: Capt. Edwin Glenn and Lt. Henry T. Allen. The highway was completed in 1945. Glennallen developed as a small community around the site of the camp. It is now a commercial center for motor traffic along the Glenn and Richardson highways.
We hiked a very small portion of the original Valdez Trail. It is now located in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve. The preserve was established in 1980 and consists of a mere 13.2 million acres. The park is named after the Wrangell and St. Elias Mountain ranges.
The Wrangell Mountains were named after Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangel, born 1796, who was a Russian Naval officer, arctic explorer, and government administrator. He was a governor of the Russian colonies in Alaska (1829-35), director of the Russian American company (1840-49), and Minister of the Navy (1855-57). He was highly critical of the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867.
Lt. Henry T. Allen, born April 13, 1859 in Sharpsburg, Kentucky, was a United States Army officer known for exploring the Copper River in Alaska. He was the one to actually name many of the Wrangell Mountains in his exploration of the Copper River Basin in 1885. He also named some of the peaks we saw today, such as Sanford, Drum, and Blackburn.
Most of the Valdez Trail is through dense woods, but we did come upon this vista. Mt. Drum is 12,010 feet above sea level.
Tidbit of Information: The difference between a National Park, and a National Preserve, is sport hunting is permitted in the Preserve.
We decided we would not have enough time to hike the entire 13 million acres, so we decided to drive the above famed Richardson Highway, looking for the other 3 major mountains in the area. All within the The Wrangell Mountain Range. We saw Mt. Drum from a better view, although the clouds came in.
Mt. Wrangell is 14,163 feet
Mt. Blackburn at 16,390 feet
And Mt. Sanford at 16,237 feet. It looks smaller than Drum because it is further away. It is also an active volcano.