city, southeastern Alaska, U.S. Situated on Prince William Sound, 305 miles (490 km) east of Anchorage, it is the northernmost all-year port in North America. Formerly known as Copper City, it was renamed in 1898 for its harbour (explored and named by Spaniards in 1790 in honour of naval officer Antonio Valdes y Basan) when it became a gateway for the Yukon goldfields. After it was severely damaged by the great Alaska earthquake of 1964, the city was rebuilt 5 miles (8 km) west on safer ground. Valdez was the principal settlement affected when the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, in what was then the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
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