On this date in 1867, the U.S. purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for $7.2 million. The purchase was initiated by Secretary of State William H. Seward -- and many who were skeptical of all that "useless wilderness" so geographically remote from the contiguous Unites States, dubbed it Seward's Folly. We gained 586,412 square miles of magnificent mountains, fertile valleys and pristine tundra, along with untold natural resources -- timber, oil, game and fish, all for barely over two cents per acre, easily rivaling the purchase of Manhattan from the Lenape tribe for 80 guilders in 1626, each the bargain of its respective century.
With this difference -- Alaska is a land of superlatives, including Mt. Denali, the tallest mountain in North America (20,320 feet from sea level to summit), a stunning array of glaciers, turbulent whitewater rivers, abundant wildlife, and ... well, size. Texans take note: Alaska is so vast that if we cut it in half, Texas would become the third largest state.