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:

  1. 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.
  2. James Cook mapped the coasts of southern Alaska in his third voyage (1776-1780).
  3. 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...).


According to the Historical Dictionary of the Discovery and Exploration of the Northwest Coast of America, in 1761 the fur trader Gavriil Pushkrev was the first Russian to set foot on mainland Alaska, although he didn't realise it at the time. There is no mention of any other Europeans before this time

Two years later, in 1763, Nikolai Daukin vists the Seward peninsula.

NOTE: in Alaska History: an Annotated Bibliography (2005), the chronology states "1731 Mikhail Gwosdev lands on the Seward Peninsula". However, other sources indicate that Gwosdev did not visit the area until 1732, and he was prevented from going ashore on the mainland by adverse conditions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.