First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley - HISTORY
Year
1913

First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley

On this day in 1913, Hudson Stuck, an Alaskan missionary, leads the first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the American continent at 20,320 feet.

Stuck, an accomplished amateur mountaineer, was born in London in 1863. After moving to the United States, in 1905 he became archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in Yukon, Alaska, where he was an admirer of Native Indian culture and traveled Alaska’s difficult terrain to preach to villagers and establish schools.

In March 1913, the adventure-seeking Stuck set out from Fairbanks for Mt. McKinley with three companions, Harry Karstens, co-leader of the expedition, Walter Harper, whose mother was a Native Indian, and Robert Tatum, a theology student. Their arduous journey was made more challenging by difficult weather and a fire at one of their camps, which destroyed food and supplies. However, the group persevered and on June 7, Harper, followed by the rest of the party, was the first person to set foot on McKinley’s south peak, considered the mountain’s true summit. (In 1910, a group of climbers had reached the lower north peak.)

Stuck referred to the mountain by its Athabascan Indian name, Denali, meaning “The High One.” In 1889, the mountain, over half of which is covered with permanent snowfields, was dubbed Densmores Peak, after a prospector named Frank Densmore. In 1896, it was renamed in honor of Senator William McKinley, who became president that year.

Mount McKinley National Park was established as a wildlife refuge in 1917. Harry Karstens served as the park’s first superintendent. In 1980, the park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Encompassing 6 million acres, the park is larger than Massachusetts.

Hudson Stuck died in Alaska on October 10, 1920. Today, over 1,000 hopeful climbers attempt to scale Mt. McKinley each year, with about half of them successfully reaching their goal.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Battle of Midway ends

On June 7, 1942, the Battle of Midway–one of the most decisive U.S. victories in its war against Japan–comes to an end. In the four-day sea and air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers with the loss of only one of its ...read more

British king visits U.S.

King George VI becomes the first British monarch to visit the United States when he and his wife, Elizabeth, cross the Canadian-U.S. border to Niagara Falls, New York. The royal couple subsequently visited New York City and Washington, D.C., where they called for a greater U.S. ...read more

Westmoreland requests 44 battalions

General Westmoreland requests a total of 35 battalions of combat troops, with another nine in reserve. This gave rise to the “44 battalion” debate within the Johnson administration, a discussion of how many U.S. combat troops to commit to the war. Westmoreland felt that the South ...read more

Bo Jackson drafted by Kansas City Royals

On June 7, 1986, the Kansas City Royals draft football star Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner out of Auburn University, in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft. Jackson’s decision to pursue baseball instead of football shocked the NFL and football ...read more

Reagan nominated for governor of California

A former actor named Ronald Reagan receives the Republican nomination for governor of California on this day in 1966. He won the election that November and was sworn in on January 2, 1967. Reagan’s tenure as the Golden State’s governor gave him credibility as a political leader, ...read more

Louise Erdrich is born

Award-winning novelist Louise Erdrich is born on this day in Little Falls, Minnesota.Erdrich’s Native American heritage became a dominant theme in her novels, which explored the lives of American Indian families. Her grandfather was tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain ...read more

Jean Harlow dies

On this day in 1937, Hollywood is shocked to learn of the sudden and tragic death of the actress Jean Harlow, who succumbs to uremic poisioning (now better known as acute renal failure, or acute kidney failure) at the age of 26.Born Harlean Carpenter in Kansas City, Missouri, she ...read more

Earthquake destroys Jamaican pirate haven

On this day in 1692, a massive earthquake devastates the infamous town of Port Royal in Jamaica, killing thousands. The strong tremors, soil liquefaction and a tsunami brought on by the earthquake combined to destroy the entire town. Port Royal was built on a small island off ...read more

Czechoslovakian president Benes resigns

Eduard Benes resigns as president of Czechoslovakia rather than sign a new constitution that would make his nation into a communist state. His resignation removed the last remnant of democratic government in Czechoslovakia and cleared the way for a communist-controlled regime. ...read more

Rebels turned back at Milliken’s Bend

A Confederate attempt to rescue Vicksburg and a Rebel garrison held back by Union forces to the east of the city fails when Union troops turn back the attack at the Battle of Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana. By late May 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant had surrounded Vicksburg, ...read more