The Alaska District was chartered in 1946 to design and construct wartime military facilities while Alaska was still a U.S. territory. The War Department issued General Order No. 6 dated April 9, 1946, giving the new district jurisdiction over all military construction and military real estate functions within the territorial limits of Alaska. Three years later, civil works responsibility in the territory was transferred from the Seattle District to the Alaska District.
The Corps of Engineers' presence in what became the 49th state in 1959 dates back to 1867 when Alaska was purchased from Russia. The Corps explored and surveyed much of the newly-acquired land. During the late 1890s, Army engineers began investigating Alaska's harbors and rivers. In 1916 Army engineers constructed two jetties at the mouth of Snake River at Nome, the site of an early Alaskan gold rush. The Corps made a significant contribution to territorial transportation in 1942 when the War Department directed Army engineers to construct the Alaska Highway between Dawson Creek in Canada to Delta Junction and Fairbanks in Alaska.