Alaska was first discovered by the Europeans in 1741 when Alexei Chirikof, with the Bering expedition, first set eyes on Alaska.
However, it is believed that humans first crossed into Alaska 13,000-20,000 years ago via the Bering Land Bridge that once connected North America with Siberia. The first settlement by humans in the history of Alaska is believed to have been more than 10,000 years ago by ancestors of the Alaska natives of today. In 1784, the first permanent Russian settlement was established on Kodiak Island by Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader.
The Alaska purchase from Russia took place in 1867. This purchase was sometimes called "Sewards Folly" or "Seward's Icebox", because Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska, and there were many in America who felt that the land purchase was a mistake. There was such a battle in Congress over the purchase that it took from March, 1867 until October of that year for the purchase to be completed. In the 1890's, after the Klondike Gold Strike, opposition finally subsided.
The United States paid Russia $7,200,000, which amounts to 2 cents per acre. On October 18, 1867, Alaska officially became part of the United States, and the Russian flag was removed and the US flag raised. Looking at the beautiful Alaska photographs on this page, I have to say, I'm glad the purchase took place!