“Fighting for the Forty-Ninth Star: C.W. Snedden and the Crusade for Alaska Statehood” by Terrence Cole University of Alaska Press, 2010
C.W. Snedden’s friendship with Interior Secretary Fred Seaton gave him direct access to the highest levels of the Eisenhower administration. In this photo, Seaton, seated as his desk in Washington, D.C., takes a call from Alaska Gov. Mike Stepovich in Juneau, marking inauguration of the new “White Alice” phone system completed in 1958. Watching over Seaton from right to left: Ted Stevens and Anthony Lausi of the Interior Department, and C.W. Snedden, publisher of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
For several years the official position of the Eisenhower administration was that only the more populated portions of the Territory of Alaska were suitable for statehood. The 1954 plan would have left all of the North Slope, with its suspected oil and gas reserves, as well as Western Alaska and the Aleutians, out of the 49th state.
By prior arrangement between Fred Seaton and Bill Snedden, assisted by Ted Stevens, the News-Miner broke the story on November 20, 1957 that Seaton—seated at his desk with Gov. Mike Stepovich looking over his shoulder—proposed to lift PLO 82 and open the North Slope to oil and gas development, and at the same time—as noted in the subhead—create what became ANWR in the far northeast corner of Alaska. Fifteen billion barrels of oil at Prudhoe Bay were later discovered in the area that had been locked up by PLO 82.
News-Miner publisher C.W. “Bill” Snedden and “flight hostess” Marita Sherer on top of a half-ton of “statehood day” newspapers that Snedden had flown overnight to Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Air Force the day after Congress approved Alaska statehood. In Snedden’s view, while statehood was the important development in Alaska history, a close second was the lifting of PLO 82 allowing private development of oil and gas on the Arctic coast of Alaska.
Bill Walker, candidate for governor, was born in Fairbanks before statehoo...