The beginning of the story. In 1898 Goldrush brought men to Valdez at the foot of a glacier. They began the town there because it was close to the glacier they had to cross to the gold fields. The following gives you more history.
These building were in Valdez during the early gold rush period.
Businesses had been set up. Daily life was very normal time.
On the afternoon of March 29, 1964 the face of Valdez changed forever. At that time an earthquake hit, on the 1964 register it showed it was an 8.4 earthquake. But when remeasured by today's more accurate measure it was a 9.2 earthquake. Valdez, built at the bottom run off area of the Valdez Glacier, was sitting on Glacier Silt, which is very unstable.
The town of Valdez (Old Valdez) was built on unconsolidated deltaic sands and gravels, which are extremely unstable during shaking. Thus, the shock waves from the 1964 earthquake that struck Valdez immediately caused the sediments under the waterfront area to spontaneously liquefy (a condition where sediments essentially behave as a liquid, loosing all load bearing capacity), which caused a large section of the delta (approximately 4,000 feet long by 600 feet wide) to slump into Port Valdez. Aside from sending most of the Valdez Port Facilities to the bottom of Port Valdez, the slump displaced a large volume of water, generating a local tsunami. Since all of this occurred before the earthquake shaking ended, the town had no warning at all, and all people on the town docks at the time were killed by the tsunami. The combined effects of the earthquake, and the 30- to 40-foot local tsunami, destroyed most of the waterfront, and caused damage a considerable distance inland. To make things worse, the forces caused the tanks at the Union Oil Company to rupture, which started a fire that spread across the entire waterfront, finishing off the few structures still standing. The photos below illustrate the scene at Valdez in the days following the tsunami. Smaller waves from the main tectonic tsunami struck Valdez several hours after the local tsunami, but their effect was minimal, as there was nothing left too destroy.
In addition to ruining Valdez, the local tsunami affected other areas of Port Valdez as well. At Cliff Mine the tsunami runup was 170 feet (see figure), and a runup in excess of 100 feet was reported in Shoup Bay (see figure).
After suffering through the tsunami experience of 1964, the town of Valdez was rebuilt at it's present location (New Valdez), situated at a higher elevation, and on more stable ground, to offer greater protection from tsunamis.
A ship came into port that day and the cook always threw out fruit or candy to the kids on the dock. It was dockside when the earthquake hit. All those on the dock when down into the crevice that the earthquake opened. The ship was also sucked down, but when the tsunami hit, it picked the ship up and pushed it to land. Some people on the land said they saw the bottom of the ship. When the wave went back out, it took the ship with it. The ship survived, only one man onboard died and that was from freight being shifted and crushed him.
One woman, a hairdresser, said she cut one young boy's hair. When he started to leave, she asked where he was going, he said to the dock. She no, your mama wants you home, now git. He went home.
There are so many stories of what the town went through.
This town would not give up, when the town land was condemned, a man gave a large parcel of land where he had planned to put a railroad, for the town to rebuild.
These buildings that I first showed to you were moved from the old town site to the new one.
Several homes were also moved. After they removed all useable homes and buildings, the remainder were burned.
This sign is at the original town site.
Information from the towns people about their former home.
Pictures of the Old Valdez.
Sign for the post office that was at the old Valdez site. Nothing is left there now except a concrete slab.
Information about the glacier
The town's information on the old Valdez site
Here is how the Old site began
BUT the people fought back, they moved the town, picked up the pieces and began a new life in a new location. The memories will never fade, but the people are amazing.