This Day in Alaska History-July 26th, 1950

Austin “Cap” Lathrop, long called Alaska’s first millionaire, spent over five decades in Alaska after purchasing a steamboat and moving to Alaska in the  mid-1890s. He made his fortune through investments in Alaska. It was on July 26th, 1950 that the aged Lathrop was crushed when, at 84, he fell beneath the wheels of a loaded railroad coal car at one of his investments, his coal mine in Healy.

Cap Lathrop would acquire many businesses in Alaska, among them the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, and radio stations such as KENI and KFAR. He is known famously for creating theatres in Alaska, first in Cordova, then with the Empress chain in Fairbanks and Anchorage, including the 4th  Avenue Theatre. He also had his hand in apartments, lumber, banking, beverage sales, and coal mining.

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

Cap would sit on the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Agricultural College and the School of Mines and on the Board of Regents when it became the Univesity of Alaska.

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

Fearing an increase in taxes for the state’s small population, Lathrop opposed statehood but gave generously to Alaska organizations including Alaska’s university.

There are many locations throughout the state named after Lathrop.