With the frosty weather well underway, and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Bowl Season upon us, now is a great time to scour Alaska’s historic newspapers for football season coverage.
As with many sports in Alaska, there is no professional football league here, so readers attended and followed high school football games instead. Of course, many newspapers covered college football games in the Lower 48, too, as part of a time-honored collegiate athletic tradition.
Many Southeast newspapers covered games played by the Treadwell Gold Mine’s football teams against the Alaska-Gastineau Mining Company’s football team. The Alaska-Gastineau Mining Company lasted from 1911-1934 and held two mines in Sheep Creek and the Silver Bow Basin. Natural disasters plagued the Treadwell Gold Mine on Douglas Island, first from a mysterious explosion in 1910, then a mine collapse in 1917, before shuttering operations altogether in 1922.
As the major employers in the area, men from both mines sought recreation and found football to be an ideal outlet. The two mines made for a crosstown rivalry that translated onto the football field.
Today, in addition to local high school teams from all over the state, Alaskans can root for teams within the Alaska Football League. Similar to the rest of the country, NFL football coverage continues to dominate the sports pages. No matter how you enjoy the sport, football will always be a fixture newspapers- past, present, and future.