First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley 1913
On this day in 1913, Hudson Stuck, an Alaskan missionary, leads the first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the American continent at 20,320 feet.
Stuck, an accomplished amateur mountaineer, was born in London in 1863. After moving to the United States, in 1905 he became archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in Yukon, Alaska, where he was an admirer of Native Indian culture and traveled Alaska’s difficult terrain to preach to villagers and establish schools.
In March 1913, the adventure-seeking Stuck set out from Fairbanks for Mt. McKinley with three companions, Harry Karstens, co-leader of the expedition, Walter Harper, whose mother was a Native Indian, and Robert Tatum, a theology student. Their arduous journey was made more challenging by difficult weather and a fire at one of their camps, which destroyed food and supplies. However, the group persevered and on June 7, Harper, followed by the rest of the party, was the first person to set foot on McKinley’s south peak, considered the mountain’s true summit. (In 1910, a group of climbers had reached the lower north peak.)
Stuck referred to the mountain by its Athabascan Indian name, Denali, meaning “The High One.” In 1889, the mountain, over half of which is covered with permanent snowfields, was dubbed Densmores Peak, after a prospector named Frank Densmore. In 1896, it was renamed in honor of Senator William McKinley, who became president that year.
Mount McKinley National Park was established as a wildlife refuge in 1917. Harry Karstens served as the park’s first superintendent. In 1980, the park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Encompassing 6 million acres, the park is larger than Massachusetts.
Hudson Stuck died in Alaska on October 10, 1920. Today, over 1,000 hopeful climbers attempt to scale Mt. McKinley each year, with about half of them successfully reaching their goal.
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1776 Lee Resolution presented to Continental Congress
- 1962 Switzerland welcomes first drive-through bank
- 1863 Rebels turned back at Milliken’s Bend
- 1948 Czechoslovakian president Benes resigns
- 2002 Michael Skakel convicted of 1975 murder in Greenwich
- 1692 Earthquake destroys Jamaican pirate haven
- 1893 Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience
- 1939 British king visits U.S.
- 1942 Battle of Midway ends
- 1937 Jean Harlow dies
- 1954 Louise Erdrich is born
- 1976 New York magazine publishes the story that becomes Saturday Night Fever
- 1866 Chief Seattle dies near the city named for him
- 1966 Reagan nominated for governor of California
- 1986 Bo Jackson drafted by Kansas City Royals
- 1965 Westmoreland requests 44 battalions
- 1972 McGovern continues to campaign against the war
World War I
- 1917 Battle of Messines Ridge
World War II
- 1942 Japanese land troops on the islands of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians