Surrounded by heavily glaciated mountains, Valdez hugs the shores of North America’s northernmost ice-free port, an 11-mile bay known as Port Valdez. Valdez has been front and center of many of the state’s most significant events: the Gold Rush, which lured the town’s first settlers; the 1964 Good Friday earthquake; the development of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the 1970s; and the 1989 oil spill by the Exxon Valdez oil tanker (named after its home port). When Exxon Valdez crashed onto the shore of Prince William Sound in Alaska, contaminating 1,300 miles of coastline with 250,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil. Direct contact with the oil slick killed at least 140 bald eagles, 302 harbor seals, 2800 sea otters and 600000 seabirds within a few days.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography