The storefront and portrait studio represent those of early Valdez photographer P.S. Hunt. The Sacramento optician came to Valdez in 1898 as a gold rush prospector. Before leaving in mid-1916 to work on the Alaska Railroad, Hunt made thousands of photographs of Valdez from its 1898 beginning through its heyday in the teens.
Hunt was among about 4,000 prospectors who came here en route of the gold fields of Interior Alaska and the Yukon. He photographed his party’s Spring 1898 crossing the Valdez Glacier. Hunt’s interest in photography outweighed his “gold fever” and he began a commercial photography business in Valdez in 1901.
Among photographers of the early era, Hunt was unique. He made portraits as did others, but significantly, he recognized he was witnessing the birth of a community. Thus, he photographed every gathering, event, activity, ship, business residence (inside and out).
Hunt’s vision enables Valdez today to have a near complete visual history of its first two decades of existence. And, because most of Hunt’s photography are dated and captioned, his subjects are complete with identification.