- The Homestead Act was a federal law passed in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, and applied to all American states and territory. This act was officially ended by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.
- The only area exempt from the end to homesteading was the state of Alaska, which was allowed to continue homesteading for another 10 years, until 1986.
- Historically, people interested in homesteading had to first file their intentions with the local Land Office and pay some basic fees for a temporary claim. Homesteaders then had to live on the land five years (although later this was reduced to three), build a home, farm the land, and make "clear improved development."
Last Homestead Claim
- The last officially recognized claim under any part of the Homestead Act was by Kenneth Deardorff for 80 acres of land in southwest Alaska, by Stony River. He received his patent in 1988, having met all the requirements almost a decade before.
- The Homesite Laws were state laws in Alaska that worked similar to federal Homestead Laws. These eventually led to "land disposals," which are still in limited use for individuals wishing to acquire land in Alaska for development.
- This is the most common way to cheaply (but not freely) acquire land parcels in Alaska and occur most commonly with parcels from 1-40 acres with prices ranging from $1,900 to $40,000 according to the Alaska DNR. Land disposals can be done when public land goes for auction, or there are parcels of land that can be sold "over the counter."