Amundsen, Ernest I. "Ernie"

1886-1938 | Postmaster of Anchorage and Chief of Police, Anchorage Police Department

Ernest Ingram "Ernie" Amundsen was born in Lake Preston, South Dakota on March 5, 1886. At the age of nineteen he arrived in Valdez, Alaska seeking his fortune along with the many other boomers. After considerable moving around the territory, he came to the tent city of Ship Creek (now Anchorage) in 1915, bought a lot at 810 8th Avenue, and immediately built a log cabin. In late 1915 and early 1916, in need of funds, he and partner Joe Bell contracted with the Alaskan Engineering Commission to grade a portion of the Alaska Railroad right-of-way.[1]

In 1917, Amundsen moved to Halibut Cove on Kachemak Bay to fish for herring and salmon. When the herring run ended he moved to Kodiak where he operated a herring saltery. There he met a young Norwegian immigrant named Victoria Hagbara Lampe, who was born in Lattenes, Lavangen, Norway on January 26, 1894. She arrived in the United States in 1913, settling in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then in Seattle, Washington. She came to Alaska in 1922 and lived in Kodiak, Alaska, where she married Ernest Amundson in 1922.[2]

The Amundsens moved to Anchorage in 1923 and occupied the log cabin that Ernest Amundsen had built in 1915. Amundsen was employed by the J.B. Gottstein Company, a wholesale grocer. The couple started a family, and suddenly the log cabin was no longer large enough. They purchased a partially built frame building and, after some additions, had a home large enough for the family. In 1932, he became postmaster of Anchorage and, after serving four years, joined the Anchorage Police Department as chief in 1936.[3]

After a long bout with cancer, Ernie Amundsen died on April 23, 1938. He left a widow and four children who suddenly found themselves without a source of income. Victoria Amundsen immediately turned the home into a boarding house for school children and mothered four to six children in addition to her own for several years while also working various jobs outside the home. After her own children were raised, she discontinued the boarding portion and rented out rooms until she was well into her eighties. A true Alaska pioneer woman, Victoria Amundsen was self-reliant, never turning back in the face of adversity.

Victoria Amundsen died on October 13, 1986 in Palmer, Alaska. Both she and her husband, Ernest Amundsen, are buried in the Elks Tract of the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. Their children were: Iver (born in 1923); Ernest "Ernie" ( born in 1925); Charles (born in 1932); and Betty Lou Webster (born in 1929).


[1] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 36-37; and Ernest I. Amundsen, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed July 10, 2016).

[2] Victoria H. Amundsen, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed July 10, 2016); and Victoria Hagbara Amundsen, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1788, Indexes to Naturalization Records of the U.S. District Court for the District, Territory, and State of Alaska (Third Division), 1903-1991, Roll 1, U.S., Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project) [database on-line], (accessed July 10, 2016).

[3] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935, 36-37; and Ernest I. Amundsen, National Archives Microfilm Publication M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971, Roll 4, U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line], (accessed July 10, 2016).



This biographical sketch of Ernest Amundsen is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 36-37. See also the Ernie Amundsen file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Amundsen family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited by Bruce Parham, July 10, 2016.

Preferred citation:  Bruce Parham, ed.,  “Amundson, Ernest I. 'Ernie'," Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website,