Flying Over the Valley, 1939

Take a tour with us as we fly over the central Matanuska Valley in a small airplane on a fine bright fall day in 1939. Luckily, there’s a professional photographer from Pacific Aerial Surveys on board with his wide format camera, shooting at will out the open door at select scenes from elevations of a few hundred feet.

Unfortunately, all but 48 of the photographic negatives were lost in a Seattle flood. Fortunately, Aero-Metric Inc. acquired the negatives, and Steve Sparks scanned them and provided digital images for us to use for research, which were presented at our October ’07 annual meeting.

When projected on a screen, the high resolution of these photos let us zoom in to great detail. We could identify the farms, homesteads, cabins, crops, cars, and sometimes the signs on buildings. Those who were here in 1939 added many details, but we hadn’t seen these photos before, and time was limited. We had more questions than answers and resolved to look more closely and share our findings. This page should help us do that.

The photos posted here are 10-20% of the original file size due to space and copyright, but still good for research and identification. High resolution printed photos are available for viewing at the Colony House Museum.

The photos are organized in a flight line, starting from west of Wasilla, then flying northeast to the Matanuska River, thence south to Palmer and over the Springer System, around the Butte, west over the town of Matanuska, Ag. Experiment Farm, Fairview area, then towards Anchorage. The photographer’s notes were found with the negatives, and reference the negative number.  The photo locations have been noted on five sections of the 1937 colony map (also available at Colony House Museum): West (photos 1-5, 47), Middle (photos 6-7 and 41-46),North (photos 8-19), Southeast (photos 20-32), and South (photos 33-40).

Here are the files with the aerial photos:

1234, 547
6741424344, 4546
8, 91011121314151617, 17a, ,1819
20, 212223242526272829303132
33, 34353637383940

We sincerely thank Aero-Metric for letting us use these photos for research purposes.