Happy Birthday to Thomas Riggs, third governor of Alaska. Riggs was born on this day, October 17, in 1873 in Ilchester, Maryland. He attended good schools and graduated from Princeton in civil engineering in 1894. The Riggs family moved to Washington state and was involved in the lumber business. Thomas came to Skagway in 1897, joined the Arctic Brotherhood, was a U.S. Surveyor, and owned the Dyea Lumber Company. Hmmm, no conflict of interest there.
He then unseccessfully prospected for gold in Dawson and Nome before heading south to Idaho. He found politics more rewarding presumably and was appointed to the U.S. Boundary Commission in 1903 and soon become the United States Engineer-in-Charge. During this effort, his team surveyed the United States-Canada boundary from the Pacific to Arctic Oceans, placed boundary markers, and cleared wooded areas to provide a clear line of sight between markers. (What became of the lumber I wonder?)
After that, President Wilson appointed him to the Alaska Railroad Commission during which time he oversaw the building the Alaska Railroad. President Wilson then appointed him the third Governor of Alaska in 1918.
During his governorship he saw the 1918 flu epidemic arrive in Alaska and made efforts to stop it, but to no avail. The flu wiped out entire villages and left hundreds of native orphans.
When Harding was elected President, Riggs left the governorship and Governor Bone was appointed. Riggs then left Alaska and moved to New York and finally Washington D.C. where he died in 1945 at the age of 72.
Wikipedia; NPS records; WW1 Registration; 1909 Arctic Brotherhood membership book. Below is a picture of him in Dyea (picture from an ebay posting)