Truesdell, Archie M.

1886-1983 | Building and Bridge Engineer, Alaska Railroad

Archie Merle Truesdell was born in Sterling, Rice County, Kansas on December 13, 1886, the son of Harvey L. Truesdell and Estella V. Truesdell.[1]

In 1915, Truesdell graduated with a B.S. degree from the University of Washington. Sometime afterwards, he married Mabel Putney, who was born in Nebraska on September 16, 1894. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Gary, Indiana, where Truesdell worked as a draftsman for the American Bridge Company during World War I. While living in Gary, their daughter Lola Agnes was born on November 25, 1917, and son Floyd Herald, on August 16, 1919.[2]

In 1922, Truesdell was hired as professor of mathematics and civil engineering at the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in Fairbanks, with research and teaching in support of agriculture and mining as its focus. When construction was completed on the first building, the college opened its doors, and he was one of six professors who taught the opening class of six students. During its first year, the college offered a total of sixteen classes to a student body of six.  In 1935, the Alaska Territorial Legislature changed the college’s name to the University of Alaska to reflect the school's expanding role in research, teaching, and public service.  The school was the beginning of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and eventually the University of Alaska, with other campuses throughout the state.[3]

After four years of teaching, Truesdell and his family returned to the Lower 48 states in 1926, but he retained the urge to return to Alaska. In 1934, he accepted an offer from the Alaska Railroad to be a building and bridge engineer, and the family moved to Anchorage in 1935.

Truesdell departed Alaska for the last time in 1944, retiring to a warmer climate in Arizona.  On August 23, 1955, he and his wife, Mabel, returned to Anchorage for a visit after an eleven-year absence.[4]

Archie M. Truesdell died in August 1983, in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona. Mabel Truesdell died on July 9, 1979, in Phoenix. They are buried in the Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery, Phoenix.[5] Their son, Floyd, is also buried in the family plot at the Greenwood Memorial Lawn Cemetery.

They were survived by a daughter, Lola Agnes Truesdell Colette. Their son, Floyd Truesdell, enlisted in the Canadian Royal Air Force in 1939-1940 and transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps when the United States became involved in World War II. As a first lieutenant and crew commander on a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, he was involved in a mid-air collision with a Royal Air Force Bristol Beaufighter from No. 96 Squadron over Norfolk, England, and killed on August 31, 1943.[6]


[1] Archie M. Truesdell, 1900 U.S Census, Sterling, Rice County, Kansas, ED 4, stamped page 317, National Archives Microfilm Publication T623, Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, Roll 497, 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], (accessed October 29, 2016).

[2] Draft registration card, Archie Merle Truesdell, Gary, Precinct 33, Lake County, Indiana, June 5, 1917, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1509, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Roll IN70, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1919 [database on-line], (accessed October 29, 2016).

[3] B.D. Stewart, Annual Report of the Mine Inspector to the Governor of Alaska, 1922 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1923), 22; and University of Alaska Fairbanks, History: The Early Years, (accessed October 29, 2016).

[4] “Former Alaskans Visit Here,” Anchorage Daily Times, August 23, 1955, 5.

[5] Archie M. Truesdell, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed October 29, 2016); and Mabel P. Truesdell, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed October 29, 2016).

[6] Floyd H. Truesdell, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed October 29, 2016).


No biographical sketch for Archie M. Truesdell was published in John P. Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001).  See also the Archie Truesdell file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 8, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Truesdell family. Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, October 29, 2016.

Preferred citation: Mina Jacobs and Bruce Parham, eds., “Truesdell, Archie M.,” 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,