Seward: Exploring Downtown

Sunday, 22 August: Part II

Seward's Folly Cartoon Founded in 1903 as the ocean terminus of the yet-to-be-built Alaska Railroad, Seward is located at the head of Resurrection Bay. The town was named for William H Seward who was Secretary of State under two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In fact, it was Seward who negotiated the deal with the Russians that led to the purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million in 1867. The .02¢/acre acquisition was ridiculed at the time, with many calling it Seward’s Folly or Seward’s Icebox, and even Polar Bear Garden and Walrussia. Time was to prove them wrong! But that’s a story for another time.

(You can click the image above to get to the source website and an explanation of the cartoon; pay particular attention to the details of the poster on the wall.)

Having settled into our room, we set out to explore what we could of Seward. It was still drizzling, heavy at times, but we didn’t let that get in our way.

The sign says it all!

Seward bills itself as the Home of the Alaska State Flag. Appropriately, near the sign that welcomes visitors to the town is a memorial to Benny Benson, the designer of the flag. What makes Benny remarkable is that he was but a young lad when he visualized the design of the flag of the future 49th State.

From the signage on the monument:

Benny was born in Chignik, a small settlement on the Alaska Peninsula, Oct. 12, 1913. He lost his mother when he was four years old after which his father sent him to the Methodist Jesse Lee Memorial Home, then located at Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands. Later the home was moved to Seward, where Benny stayed until he was 20 years old. Benny was in the seventh grade at the Jesse Lee Home when he designed the flag. Benny submitted the following text with his design: “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”

Collage of images from the memorial at the entrance to Seward.

After driving around town to get our bearings, we parked on Fourth Avenue to grab some ice cream from The Sea Bean Cafe and take advantage of their slogan — sit. sip. surf. — to check our emails and call our families. The funky little cafe, located in one of the oldest buildings in Seward, also provided a brief haven from the rain that continued to fall.

Seward Downtown Map

Map of Downtown Seward
[click the image FOR the source document and legend]

Time for a little “pick me up” in the form of ice cream.
(Oh yeah; the photo was taken on another day when the sun was out.)

Refreshed after our brief break, we set out to continue exploring Seward. My goal was to find all of the murals scattered around town, so we followed a map I had downloaded from the Mural Society website. I’ll leave the images from that endeavor for another post and show you some of the other sights we came across during our meandering walk/drive around Seward.

Left: The winter trails established by miners at the head of Resurrection
Bay eventually stretched all the way to Nome.
right: The Founder’s Monument honors John Ballaine, Seward’s founder,
and the landing party that arrived on August 28, 1903.

in the Mural Capital of Alaska even dumpsters are used as a canvas!

Is that Mui's catch for the day?
(I’ll admit it now … it’s not.)

Left: These two men are part of the group that caught all this fish.
right: glimpse of the small boat harbor, with hal’s ryndam in the background.

The hour was past 7:00p by the time we ended up in the hub-bub of activity near the small boat harbor. Our tummies were reminding us that our usual dinnertime had come and gone. There was no lack of dining establishments to pick from, so we checked out a few places before settling on Marina Restaurant. Yeah, the place lacked ambiance; in fact, it was little more than a shack; but the halibut fish and chips was the best ever.

Not a gourmet restaurant by any stretch of the imagination.

Plenty of fish and chips to share.

No longer famished, and more than a little tired, we called it a night after dinner and returned to the resort. Having noted the on-site laundry earlier, we threw in a couple of loads. While the clothes were getting washed, we browsed through the literature we had collected in town to come up with plans for the next few days. We have some solid ideas, but the weather will dictate what we end up doing.

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