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Guide to the George Benesch Alaska Marine Highway records
1965-1970

Collection number: HMC-1052.
Creator: Benesch, George.
Title: George Benesch Alaska Marine Highway records.
Dates: 1965-1970.
Volume of collection: 2.2 cubic feet. 
Language of materials: Collection materials in English.
Collection summary: George Benesch’s records concerning the Alaska Marine Highway and the Wickersham ferry.

Biographical note:
George Benesch was born January 11, 1925 in Pueblo, Colorado.  He moved to Alaska in 1944 where he was a pilot with the U.S. Army Corps. After he was honorably discharged, he married Peggy Higby and pursued a BA in engineering at the University of Colorado.  In 1950 he returned to Alaska with his wife where he was a truck driver during the construction of the Haines to Haines Junction road. In 1952, he was an electrical engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Except for the time he pursued his law degree at Eugene, Oregon (1962-1965), he lived the rest of his life in Alaska. After receiving his law degree he was appointed Assistant Attorney General in Alaska.  He held the position from 1965-1970. While Assistant Attorney General he was involved with the Alaska Marine Highway, specifically negotiations regarding the use of the ocean going ferry, MV Wickersham. The Alaska State bought the Wickersham, formerly known as the Stenna Brittanica, in 1968. Since the Wickersham was built in Sweden, the 1920 Jones Act limited the route of the Wickersham.  The Jones Act did not allow any foreign built vessels to transport people or goods between U.S. ports.  As a result, the Wickersham had to stop at Prince Rupert, Canada when traveling from Seattle to Alaskan ports (that could facilitate its deep draft).

In addition to his work as Assistant Attorney General, he and his wife were involved in the Alaska Statehood Movement.  In 1970 he became the transportation commissioner for State of Alaska Transportation Commission. In 1972 George opened his private law practice. He also served as chief hearings officer for the State Transportation Commission for 10 years.  He passed away March 6th, 2009.

Collection description:
The collection consists of records concerning George Benesch’s work on the Alaska Marine Highway while he was Assistant Attorney General. Topics covered include securing federal funding for the Alaska Marine Highway, negotiations with the Marine Highways Inc., and issues concerning the 1920 Jones Act as it pertains to the WC Wickersham ferry. Records include correspondence, memos, legislative files, research files regarding the Jones Act and registries. The collection also contains correspondence and documents by Governor Walter Hickel that pertain to the Alaska Marine Highway and the Wickersham ferry.

Arrangement: The collection retains its original order.

Digitized copies: Digital copies of collection material not available online. For information about obtaining digital copies, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Rights note: Archives and Special Collections owns copyright to George Benesch’s works in the collection that are not an Alaska State Government official document.  Other copyright restrictions may apply to research files in the collection. 

Preferred citation: George Benesch Alaska Marine Highway records, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Works used in preparation of inventory:

Kiffer, Dave. "The Grand Ships of the Alaska Marine Highway System." Site News: Stories in the News, Ketchikan, Alaska. July 7, 2006. http://www.sitnews.us/Kiffer/MarineHighway/070706_marine_highway.html (accessed July 6, 2009).

"Obituaries: George Lee Benesch." Juneau Empire. March 15, 2009. http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/031509/obi_409861628.shtml (accessed July 06, 2009).

"Obituaries: George Benesch." Anchorage Daily News. March 13-21, 2009. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/adn/obituary-print.aspx?n=george-benesch&pid=125052622 (accessed June 6, 2009).

Separated materials: Peggy Benesch’s papers were separated into the Peggy Higby Benesch papers, HMC-1053.

Related materials: Peggy Benesch papers (HMC -1053) contains George Benesch’s notes and logs from when he was Assistant Attorney General working on the Wickersham registry.

Acquisition note: The collection was donated by Dan Benesch in 2009 June.

Processing information: This collection was described by Mariecris Gatlabayan in 2009.

Location of originals: Original Alaska State government records are at the Alaska State Archives.  For more information about the originals, please contact Alaska State Archives at archives@alaska.gov or (907)465-2270.