Continued from the last page . . .
After visiting the air museum and watching float planes take off and
land at Lake Hood this morning we drove a couple miles northwest to the
parking area for Earthquake Park, which lies
along Knik Arm on the coastline.
We got to see part of the popular paved Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (bike and walking path) and several interpretive panels re:
the Good Friday earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Southcentral Alaska
in the spring of 1964.
Jim approaches the Coastal Trail. The path ahead of
us leads into Earthquake Park.
Jim and I were teenagers in the Midwest when southern Alaska was hit
with that massive quake, which registered a whopping 9.2-magnitude on the Richter
Scale. Neither of us remembers anything about it from back then but we've
heard about it over the years and read more when we were researching our trip to Alaska.
Last week in Valdez we got a big dose of the history of this quake.
That town was completely destroyed during this event and subsequently
rebuilt four miles away. We visited the old townsite and couldn't help
but feel compassion for the folks who were directly affected by the
Note the zigzag pattern in the
walkway in this photo and another one farther below.
The jarring lines and the jagged stone
sculpture depict the damage done by the earthquake.
The earthquake wasn't the worst of it that day, however.
It was 40-foot tsunami waves caused by the quake that caused the most
damage and loss of life in both Valdez and Seward. Other coastal cities
like Kodiak, Cordova, and Whittier were also severely damaged. They
suffered the complete loss of their ports and adjacent fishing,
railroad, and industrial facilities.
The loss of the ports in Valdez and Seward in particular was crippling, as these
were the only all-weather, ice-free ports with road and rail access to
Interior Alaska. The destruction of these ports permanently changed the
economic pattern of water and rail transport in the state, bringing
major shipping to Anchorage.
In contrast, Anchorage suffered more damage from the earthquake than from
tsunami waves, despite being surrounded on three sides by the
water in Cook Inlet and its two "arms," Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm.
Anchorage had its share of damage, however, including
the loss of nine lives. The interpretive trail and exhibits in
Earthquake Park commemorate the devastating event:
In this entry I'll talk a bit more about Earthquake Park and show you
photos from the city greenhouses, the source of many of the lovely
flowers displayed throughout Anchorage every summer.
Earthquake Park is one of the most popular places in Anchorage to view
Cook Inlet and the Alaska Range.
tide was out and the views toward the inlet and mountains were
mostly obscured by trees and clouds when we were there early this afternoon:
Low clouds on the horizon hide the Alaska Range.
On a clear day 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley (AKA Denali) and
17,40-foot Mt. Foraker are visible to the north. It was too cloudy to
see them today. We’re hoping for a sunny day soon so we can see the
inlet and mountain ranges to the west and north from this location and
other parts of the bike trail.
Today we read the interpretive panels and
enjoyed having the small grassy park mostly to ourselves.
This panel got our attention because it shows
major quake damage close to where we were standing:
Note the "You Are Here" arrow at the bottom left of the picture above.
An 8,000-foot strip of the bluff, 1,200 feet wide, cracked and slid
toward Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet, destroying 75 homes and killing four
people as the earth gave way.
Here's a photo from one of the panels showing a portion of the Turnagain
Heights slide damage:
Much of downtown Anchorage was ruined.
On 4th Avenue, the city's main
street, commercial buildings and pavements dropped as much as 15 feet:
Two other historic photos on that panel show additional damage to the
city's infrastructure and the destruction of the Alaska Railroad, which
lost many miles of damaged track and numerous bridges, culverts, and
rail cars in the region during the quake:
Although there was extensive damage to roads, buildings, and water and
sewer lines in Anchorage, the city fared better in some ways than Valdez
and Seward. Fewer people lost their lives. There weren't any large
fires. And the airports were operational within a few hours after the
disaster, aiding rescue efforts.
One interpretive panel shows ways that buildings in Anchorage are now constructed
to better withstand earthquakes. Another describes the damage to the
flora and fauna from the quake and tsunami.
Other panels are non-quake related. They describe a nearby wetland,
wildlife in the area (including beluga whales, which travel through Cook
Inlet), the different types of Pacific salmon (five types, each with an
alternate name), the surrounding mountains, and other information about
Anchorage that we
This is a very nice little park. Go see it if you're in Anchorage.
CITY OF ANCHORAGE GREENHOUSES
Another stop we made today was at the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse and
horticultural complex in the unit of
Russian Jack Springs Park that is located on the south side of DeBarr
Rd. (the other part of the park is on the north side of DeBarr).
One view inside the tropical greenhouse open to
The city maintains this large horticultural complex to supply a
profusion of beautiful flowers and other plants in the summer. It
is part of the Parks and Recreation Department.
According to the website link city workers planted and are maintaining 461 flower beds and hanging baskets
with more than 76,000 annual flowers and other plants at 81 different
sites to brighten Anchorage this summer.
Above and below: one of several colorful hanging baskets outside the
is full of exotic fuchsia flowers. A fragrant lilac
bush blooms in the background. Ahhh . . .
We’ve been admiring gorgeous flowers all over the downtown area this week. They're in
baskets hanging from lampposts and in beds along sidewalks, in the
street medians, at intersections, and throughout 200+ city parks.
Here are some more flowers on display outside the
Begonias, I think
Colorful decorative cabbage plants in one of the flowerbeds
We didn't see what we
expected to see at Plant Central -- more flowers like
those we've seen around town, growing in the greenhouses, ready to be
planted in other places or to replace ones that die or get damaged.
We didn't see the
whole complex, however. There are a total of six greenhouses used to
grow all the plants.
Signs on two empty greenhouses we saw near the visitor parking area said “employees only” so we
followed a path around to the building that displays numerous tropical
plants and cacti -- the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse. That's
apparently the only building visitors may tour on their own.
and below: on the path to the memorial greenhouse
There is an aviary and a little fish pond in the first enclosure and
many more plants in the second one, including some of the most unusual
succulents and cacti we’ve ever seen:
A type of orchid
Part of a much larger succulent plant that is very
Rhysalis cactus species
We exited at the far end of the memorial greenhouse and entered an attractive shaded
outdoor garden full of more hanging baskets and bedding flowers. This area is
popular during nice weather for small weddings and other events:
Above and below: more pretty fuchsias
The memorial greenhouse is
open most days of the year from 8 AM to 3 PM and is free to tour on your
own. Volunteers also provide some guided educational tours.
We enjoyed our visit
and recommend it to others. You can easily spend an hour here.
In addition to all
these greenhouses the horticulture department also tends to a landscape
material nursery with over 6,000 trees and shrubs. Workers maintain 179
tree/shrub sites around town, mow and fertilize turf at 96 sites and
along 79 miles of streets, and keep all the flowers, trees, shrubs, and
grass irrigated at those sites throughout the summer. We've already seen
some of them at work in front of the Old Federal Building on 4th Ave.
I know visitors
appreciate what they do. I hope the taxpayers don't mind paying for it!
Anchorage is a more inviting place to live and visit because of the
municipality's extensive landscape and beautification efforts.
We had one more attraction on oury agenda for today (more than that would
have worn us out) -- the Alaska Heritage Museum, which showcases
numerous Native Alaskan artifacts and fine art. I'll show you
pictures from it in the next entry.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil