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valdez began as a port in 1790 and was named after spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán by explorer Salvador Fidalgo. the town was developed in 1898 after a scam to lure people to the area with promises of gold. many men died in trying to reaach the town or turned back when they found they had been lied to. however, the town began to flourish after the construction  of the richardson highway in 1899 which connected the port to fairbanks. it was then permanently established as the first overland supply route to the interior of alaska. in 1907, a shootout between rivaling railroad companies ended the hopes that it would become a railroad link to kennicott mine. in 1964, the good friday earthquake caused portions of the town closest to sea to fall off and slide into the ocean. following this, a tsunami wiped out the freight dock as well as the 32 men, women, and children that were helping to unload the ss chena. the new town was built four miles away on more stable ground and the original town was abandoned. from 1975 to 1977, the alaska pipeline was built to transport oil from the oil fields in prudhoe bay to valdez for shipment on tanker ships. its construction boosted the economy for valdez. in 1989, the exxon valdez oil spill occured 25 miles away from valdez and, although the oil never reached the city itself, the cleanup of the oil temporarily boosted the economy.

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