This Day in Alaskan History – July 26, 1950

Austin “Cap” Lathrop, long called Alaska’s first millionaire, spent more than five decades in Alaska after buying a steamboat and settling in Alaska in the mid-1890s. He made his fortune from investments in Alaska. It was on July 26, 1950, that old Lathrop was crushed when, aged 84, he fell under the wheels of a loaded coal wagon at one of his investments, his coal mine at Healy.

Cap Lathrop would acquire many businesses in Alaska, including the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer and radio stations such as KENI and KFAR. He is known for establishing theaters in Alaska, first in Cordova, then with the Empress chain in Fairbanks and Anchorage, whose 4th Avenue Theater. He also had his hand in apartments, lumber, banking, selling liquor and coal mining.

He is also famous for his film production, “Chechahcos”, the first film shot entirely in Alaska.

Cap will serve on the board of trustees of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines and on the board of trustees when it becomes the University of Alaska.

Lathrop would also serve two years in the Alaska Territorial House of Representatives and as a representative on the Republican National Committee.

Fearing increased taxes for the state’s small population, Lathrop opposed statehood, but gave generously to Alaskan organizations, including the University of Alaska.

There are many places throughout the state named after Lathrop.

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