Fact Sheets

The information for these fact sheets were compiled by the Valdez Museum and is based on materials from the Valdez Museum’s historical collections.

Owen Meals

August 7, 2013

Valdez has a long transportation history. Since it was founded over a hundred years ago, it has served as a hub for road, sea, and air travel. Valdez pioneer, Owen Meals, is responsible for bringing flight to Valdez. Meals came to Alaska with his family in 1903 – the same year that the Wright brothers…

Dr. Von Gunther and his Malt Blossom Tonic

August 2, 2013

In 1898, Valdez was a gold rush tent city. The streets were muddy and lined with canvas wall tents where people lived and ran businesses. In May of 1898, Valdez’s first doctor arrived in town. His name was Dr. Andrew Von Gunther and came to Valdez with his wife, Lena. The couple, originally from Germany,…

Health Care in Early Valdez

August 2, 2013

Health care is a central service that Valdez has always tried to provide for residents. Over the years, health care has been provided here in a variety of ways. Valdez was established in 1898 as a gold rush tent city and rapidly grew into a bustling turn-of-the-century American city. While the first rush into Valdez…

Health Care Dilemma of 1950’s

August 2, 2013

In the 1950’s, Valdez was a small community of about 500 people at the end of the gravel Richardson Highway. Access to reliable health care had been a problem since the Episcopal Church’s Hospital of the Good Samaritan closed in the 1940s. In a period of just about a decade, over 5 doctors came and…

Harborview Center

August 2, 2013

1960 marked the beginning of a change in the way the State of Alaska provided care for its mentally disabled residents. Prior to this, mentally disabled individuals had been sent to institutions out of state. After much work and many hours of debate, the Legislature began a process that would bring these residents back to…