When the sky was the limit: Former state Sen. Sturgulewski recalls late-1970s Alaska

Arliss Sturgulewski is a former state senator. She is featured in John McPhee’s book Coming into the Country, which was published in 1977. (Photo by Eric Keto/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

In John McPhee’s book “Coming into the Country,” Arliss Sturgulewski stands in a field of berries, with a view of Denali in the distance, contemplating the potential site of a new state capital. She’s one of the dozens of Alaskans who make an appearance in the famous book, published 40 years ago. Alaska’s Energy Desk is catching up with many of them to celebrate the book’s anniversary.

In the late 1970s Sturgulewski was on the Capital Site Selection Committee, which McPhee profiles in his book. The idea was to build an entirely new capitol, and even city, outside of Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks. Sturgulewski says she relished the opportunity to travel the state looking at potential sites with the east coast writer tagging along.