Sunday, March 7, 2010

Captain Cook Bicentenary - Exploring Alaska's Coast

Date of Issue: June 01, 1978
Scott#: for Captain Cook stamp - 1732, issued - Jan 20, 1978

This First Day Cover was issued to commemorate 200 years of exploration of Alaska's coast by Captain James Cook. The cancellation was made at Captain Cook Station at Anchorage, Alaska and a pictorial cancellation showing the Cook Inlet, named after him. The second picture is a postcard that was issued along with this cover with the following information, which is very interesting....

The statue of Captain James Cook overlooking Cook Inlet from Resolution Park at the foot of "L" Street and West Third Avenue was presented to the Municipality of Anchorage by British Petroleum Ltd., in 1976 as its contribution to the nation's bicentennial celebration. It is the only statue of the famed British navigator-explorer in the United States.

Under orders from the Royal Navy, Capt. Cook, in command of the ships, RESOLUTION and DISCOVERY, set out to explore the Pacific Ocean and to find the fabled "Northwest Passage," a sea link between that body of water and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1778, after having sailed north along the American coast on his Third Voyage of Discovery, Cook entered a long channel which looked like a promising lead and finally anchored in a large bay off the site of the present city of Anchorage. The date was June 01, 1778.

Having charted the waters and shore of the main channel, Capt. Cook dispatched two boats to examine the arm leading toward the East where, finally, towering mountains closed off any further hope of passage. Convinced that no link to the Atlantic Ocean existed here, Cook ordered a landing party ashore to claim possession of the land in the name of the King. The arm which at first had promised to be the passage, but then proved to be the end of the quest, was named "River Turnagain". The majestic waterway, stretching from the open sea 150 miles to present-day Anchorage, was chosen by the Admiralty to pay tribute to the memory of England's greatest navigator; hence it bears the name Cook Inlet.

The cachet for the souvenir cover in which this postcard is enclosed was reproduced from an original drawing by Janis Carty Neill of Eagle River, President of the Alaska Watercolor Society, and is sponsored by the Capt. Cook Bicentenary Committee, assisted by members of the Anchorage Philatelic Society.

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