To my surprise, I could not find a straightforward answer to this question. When did Europeans first set foot in mainland Alaska? I could easily find that:
- Vitus Bering, a Dane of Russian allegiance, was the first in insular Alaska. He and his men reached Kayak island (2 km from the mainland at its nearest point) and Kodiak island (50 km from the mainland) in 1741.
- James Cook mapped the coasts of southern Alaska in his third voyage (1776-1780).
- The Russians built fort St. George in Kasilof on the Alaskan mainland in 1786.
So it must have happened between 1741 and 1786, but when and by whom?
To be clear, I am more interested in the first factual visit (such and such visited mainland Alaska in 17xx...) than in deductions (such and such must have visited by 17xx...).