Alaska is a big place, with 656,425 square miles of rugged wilderness, scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. Which means traveling in Alaska presents some unique challenges as well as opportunities. Unlike the 'lower 48', many of our communities are not accessible by a land based road system, making the primary means of travel to them by air or sea. The Alaska Marine Highway makes up a large part of our 'highway system' and is a route so special it has been desiginated a National Scenic Byway and an All American Road, the only marine route with this designation.

From the southern terminus in Bellingham, Washington, the Marine Highway stretches more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor. Stops are made in Prince Rupert BC, throughout the Inside Passage, across the Gulf of Alaska to Prince William Sound and then down along the Aleutian Chain. With 119 state parks spread across the state and a total of 365 million acres, there is plenty of room for everyone to seek their own adventure. Whether your interest is in bike trails, secluded coves for kayaking, hiking trails, camping or National Parks and wilderness areas, the Alaska Marine Highway is the perfect way to experience the communities that populate Alaska's diverse and scenic coastline.

Southeast Alaska: The Inside Passage

In the Southeast, Alaska's Inside Passage treats you to spectacular natural beauty made up of mountains, rainforest and glaciers; an unmatched variety of wildlife; and a rich mixture of native, early Russian and gold rush history. It reveals a multitude of islands and coves along an unpoiled coastline, that are perfect to explore by boat or kayak. The entire region is wrapped in the Tongass National Forest, the largest National Forest in the United States and the largest contiguous temperate rain forest in the world.

The larger communities of Southeast are a regular stop on most cruise line itineraries and the locals are always ready to welcome visitors. These areas offer a multitude of tours, guides or outings to suit any taste. Don't miss the totem poles, native dancers and many museums that highlight the rich native culture of Southeast.

Travel within Alaska is easy due to the cross Gulf of Alaska sailings on the Alaska Marine Highway. Begin your journey in Bellingham and travel as far north as Whittier in South Central. From June through September, the Kennicott makes semi-monthly trips through Southeast, stopping in Yakutat and continuing on to connect with Southwest routes. This route is not only a service link between regions but it is also a trip of a lifetime for those who like comfortable adventure.

Angoon Bellingham Gustavus Haines Hoonah
Juneau Kake Ketchikan Metlakatla Pelican
Petersburg Prince Rupert Sitka Skagway Tenakee
Wrangell Yakutat

South Central Alaska: Prince William Sound

The ferry can take you through beautiful Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska, around the Kenai Peninsula and into lower Cook Inlet. The coastal communities of this region are the outdoor playgrounds for more than half of the state's population. Outdoor activities abound with four mountain ranges within driving distances of these ports. Enjoy the opportunity for day hikes in the mountains of Chugach Park to multi-day excursions into spectacular Denali National Park, home to North Americas' largest mountain, Mount McKinley. Choose a variety of exciting adventures including camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting and more.

Our South Central routes serve multiple communities in Prince William Sound and some continue over to Kodiak Island. The South Central routes continue by road with connections at Valdez, Homer, and Whittier (via the Alaska Railroad) or by sea to Kodiak Island. On Kodiak Island, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve their most popular residents, the Kodiak Brown Bear. While aboard the ferry or in a port community, travelers will thrill to the spectacular sights of ice-blue glaciers, tranquil fjords, lush forests, and unbelievable concentrations of seabirds and marine wildlife.

Chenega Bay Cordova Homer Seldovia
Tatitlek Valdez Whittier

Southwest Alaska: Kodiak and the Aleutian Chain

The Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula sweep more than 1500 miles from Cook Inlet toward Asia. This region sits atop the "Ring of Fire," a string of volcanoes along the Pacific Rim, and boasts several wildlife refuges. The harsh weather precludes ferry service in the winter, but each spring the Alaska Marine Highway resumes its regular sailings to the seven westward communities of Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan, and Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.

See the remote, beautiful and mysterious Southwest Alaska for yourself on the Alaska Marine Highway. From gentle coastal grasslands to rumbling snow-capped volcanoes, the Aleutian Chain has a character and charm all its own. This land of mystery is home to numerous national wildlife refuges and hundreds of species of sea birds, fur seal colonies, walrus and other wildlife.

Akutan Chignik Cold Bay False Pass
King Cove Kodiak Old Harbor Ouzinkie
Port Lions Sand Point Dutch Harbor / Unalaska

Southeast Alaska Communities

Angoon (ANG)

Location and Climate

Angoon is the only permanent settlement on Admiralty Island, located on the southwest coast at Kootznahoo Inlet. Angoon is 55 miles southwest of Juneau and 41 miles northeast of Sitka. The community lies at approximately 57.503330° North Latitude and -134.583890° West Longitude. The area encompasses 22.5 sq. miles of land and 16.1 sq. miles of water.  Angoon's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 45 to 61 °F. Winter temperatures range from 25 to 39 °F. Extremes in temperature have been recorded, ranging from a low of -6 to a high of 77 °F. Angoon receives much less precipitation than is typical of Southeast Alaska, averaging 43 inches annually. Annual snowfall averages 63 inches. Strong north winds during winter months cause rough seas, which may prevent aircraft landings.

History, Culture and Demographics

Admiralty Island has long been the home of the Kootznoowoo Tlingit tribe. Kootznoowoo means "fortress of bears." From the 1700s to the mid-1800s, fur trading was the major money-making activity in the area. In 1878, the Northwest Trading Company established a trading post and whaling station on nearby Killisnoo Island, and villagers were employed to hunt whales. Whaling, a BIA school, and a Russian Orthodox church attracted many Tlingits to Killisnoo.

In 1882, a whaling vessel's harpoon charge accidentally misfired and exploded, killing a Native crewmember - a Tlingit shaman. Villagers demanded payment of 200 blankets to the man's family, as was customary. The Northwest Trading Co. felt threatened and sought assistance from the U.S. Navy at Sitka. The village and a summer camp were subsequently shelled and destroyed by the Navy Cutter U.S.S. Corwin. Native accounts of the attack claim six children died by smoke inhalation.

In 1973, Angoon won a $90,000 out-of-court settlement from the Federal Government for the 1882 bombardment. Whaling did not last long, and the company switched to herring processing. During this time, many Tlingits moved to Killisnoo for employment at the plant. In 1928, Killisnoo was destroyed by fire, and many Tlingits returned to Angoon. A post office was established in 1928. The city was formed in 1963. Many summer homes have developed on Killisnoo Island.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Angoon Community Association. The population of the community consists of 86.4% Alaska Native or part Native. Angoon is a Tlingit village with a commercial fishing and subsistence lifestyle. Possession of alcohol is banned in the community. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 221, and vacant housing units numbered 37. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 25.

Economy and Transportation

Commercial fishing is a major source of income. In 2009, 26 residents held commercial fishing permits. Low salmon prices have affected incomes. A shellfish farm was funded by state and federal grants. The Chatham School District is the primary employer. Logging on Prince of Wales Island provides occasional jobs. Subsistence remains an important part of the lifestyle. Local resources include deer, salmon, bear, halibut, shellfish, geese, seaweed, and berries.

Angoon is accessible only by float plane or boat. Scheduled and charter float plane services are available from the state-owned seaplane base on Kootznahoo Inlet. Angoon's facilities also include a deep draft dock, a small boat harbor with 45 berths, and state ferry terminal. Freight arrives by barge and ferry.

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Bellingham (BEL) | www.bellingham.org

Bellingham, Washington, southernmost terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System, is 1-1/2 hours north of Seattle and one hour south of Vancouver, British Columbia. It is the traditional gateway to the San Juan Islands and Alaska. Bellingham's new multi modal facility offers train, bus, Alaska, Victoria and San Juan Island ferry service, all in one location. The ferry terminal and visitor information center are adjacent to the historic Fairhaven district. Shuttle services are available for travel between the terminal and major airports. See the Port of Bellingham for information about this multi modal facility and the Bellingham Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site to find out about activities and events in Bellingham and Whatcom County.

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Gustavus (GUS) | www.gustavusak.com

Gustavus is ideally situated on Icy Strait, in northern SE Alaska, a short flight from Juneau via jet or air taxi. Home to 450 people, Gustavus is surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park and is adjacent to the Tongass National Forest, with 360-degree views of snow-capped mountain ranges. In summer, wildflowers bloom in the fields and rain-kissed vegetables grow in local gardens. The Salmon River meanders through town, where occasional visitors include moose, eagles and maybe a bear or two.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, a United Nations World Heritage Site, is just 10 miles from the Gustavus airport. Bartlett Cove is headquarters to the National Park, a park which houses a spectacular 65-mile-long fjord that features 10 colossal tidewater glaciers. They roar and growl, booming like thunder, and huge slabs of ice break off and crash into the water below. Excursion boats travel through Glacier Bay, allowing visitors a close-up look at the glaciers, coves and inlets, wildlife and birds.

Location and Climate

Gustavus lies on the north shore of Icy Passage at the mouth of the Salmon River in the St. Elias Mountains, 48 air miles northwest of Juneau. It is surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on three sides and the waters of Icy Passage on the south. Glacier Bay Park is 3.3 million acres and offers 16 tidewater glaciers. The community lies at approximately 58.413330° North Latitude and -135.736940° West Longitude. The area encompasses 29.2 sq. miles of land and 10.0 sq. miles of water.  The area's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 52 to 63 °F and winter temperatures from 26 to 39 °F.

History, Culture and Demographics

When Capt. George Vancouver sailed through Icy Strait in 1794, Glacier Bay was completely covered by the Grand Pacific Glacier. Over the next century, the glacier retreated some 40 miles, and a spruce-hemlock forest began to develop. By 1916, it had retreated 65 miles from the position observed by Vancouver in 1794. Gustavus is located on a flat area formed by the outwash from the glacier, and the area is still growing. Gustavus began as an agricultural homestead in 1914. It was once known as Strawberry Point due to the abundant wild strawberries. The current name was derived from Point Gustavus, which lies 7 miles to the southwest. Glacier Bay National Monument (including Gustavus) was established by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. After many appeals, the homesteaders were able to keep their land, and the Gustavus area was excluded from the monument. It became a national park in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The City of Gustavus was incorporated on April 1, 2004.

The population of the community consists of 8.2% Alaska Native or part Native. Gustavus is a community with a number of seasonal-use homes for Juneau residents. The nearby Glacier Bay Park is a major recreation and tourist attraction in Southeast. Many of the residents who have relocated here chose Gustavus for the lifestyle, the nearness to natural resources, the beauty of the area, and the subsistence activities available. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 345, and vacant housing units numbered 146. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 60.

Economy and Transportation

Gustavus has a seasonal economy; the Glacier Bay National Park attracts a large number of tourists and recreation enthusiasts during the summer months. Gustavus has three kayaking companies and a 9-hole golf course. There are several sportfishing guides, and some commercial fishing occurs. Over 50% of working locals are employed by the National Park Service. The lodge, airport, school, and small businesses also offer employment. The number of residents during the summer approximately doubles from the current population estimates of year-round residents. Gardening is a prevalent activity during the summer. In 2009, 31 residents held commercial fishing permits.

Gustavus has a state-owned airport with jet capability. The airport has two asphalt runways: one 6,721' long and 150' wide and the other is 3,146 long and 60' wide. Alaska Airlines has daily flights in the summer, and there are many small planes, corporate jets, and air taxi services that use the airport. Float planes land at nearby Bartlett Cove. Air traffic is relatively high during peak summer months, and cruise ships include the bay in their itinerary. There is a 10-mile local road connecting Bartlett Cove with the airport. Freight arrives via air or landingcraft. Small boats and small ferry boats regularly dock in Gustavus in the summer. Regulations limit the number of boats entering Glacier Bay to protect the humpback whale habitat. Permits are required for boaters between June 1 and August 31 and may be obtained from the National Park Service (907-697-2268). Tours are available from Bartlett Cove, Gustavus, and Juneau. Because of the large number of tourists who arrive by boat or plane in the area, Gustavus is considered the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park.

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Haines (HNS) | www.haines.ak.us

The pristine beauty of Haines is much of what visitors dream Alaska will be. Located on the shores of the Lynn Canal, the longest, deepest fjord in North America, Haines is framed in snow-capped mountains. Haines also connects the Inside Passage route of the Alaska Marine Highway to the Alaska surface highway at Haines Junction, in Canada's Yukon Territory. The highlight of autumn is viewing the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve just outside of town. Many travelers board the ferry at Haines and sail to nearby Skagway, birthplace of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Location and Climate

Haines is located on the western shore of Lynn Canal, between the Chilkoot and Chilkat Rivers. It is 80 air miles northwest of Juneau, just south of the Canadian border at British Columbia and 600 air miles southeast of Anchorage and Fairbanks. By road, it is 775 miles from Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 59.235830° North Latitude and -135.445000° West Longitude. The area encompasses 13.5 sq. miles of land and 8.0 sq. miles of water.  Haines has a maritime climate characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 46 to 66 °F; winter temperatures range from 10 to 36 °F. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -16 to 90 °F. Total precipitation averages 52 inches a year, with 133 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture, and Demographics

The Haines area was called "Dei Shu" by the Tlingit, meaning "end of the trail." The Chilkat Tlingit tightly controlled the trading routes between the coast and the Interior. The first non-Native to settle here was George Dickinson, an agent for the North West Trading Co., in 1880. In 1881, S. Young Hall, a Presbyterian minister, received permission from the Chilkat to build the Willard Mission and school. The mission was renamed Haines in 1884 in honor of Mrs. F.E. Haines, Secretary of the Presbyterian Women's Executive Society of Home Missions, who had raised funds for the mission's construction. During the Klondike gold rush in the late 1890s, it grew as a mining supply center, since the Dalton Trail from Chilkat Inlet to Whitehorse offered an easier route to the Yukon for prospectors. Gold was also discovered 36 miles from Haines in 1899 at the Porcupine District. Four canneries had been constructed in the area by the turn of the century. The first permanent U.S. military installation in Alaska, Fort William H. Seward, was constructed south of Haines in 1904. The city was incorporated in 1910. In 1922, the fort was renamed Chilkoot Barracks. Until World War II, it was the only U.S. Army post in Alaska. It was deactivated in 1946 and sold as surplus property to a group of veterans who established it as Port Chilkoot. In 1970, the City of Port Chilkoot (formed in 1956) merged with Haines into one municipality. In 1972, the post was designated a national historic site, and the name, Fort William Seward, was restored. The last of the early canneries closed in 1972 due to declining fish stocks. Expansion of the timber industry in the early 1970s fueled growth. The sawmills closed in 1976. In 2002, the city was consolidated with the Haines Borough. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Chilkoot Indian Association. The population of the community consists of 18.5% Alaska Native or part Native. Historically Chilkat Indian territory, Haines is now predominantly a non-Native community. There are two Chilkat Indian Villages in the area, the Chilkoot in Haines and the Chilkat in Klukwan. Haines is home to the world's largest congregation of bald eagles, who feed from the hot spring-fed rivers. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, located 18 miles from Haines, is a major attraction in Southeast Alaska. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 895, and vacant housing units numbered 143. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 47.

Economy and Transportation

Commercial fishing, timber, government, tourism, and transportation are the primary employers. In 2009, 110 residents held commercial fishing permits. Many jobs are seasonal. Tourism and the traffic Haines draws as a result of its road connection to the state ferry are important. Cruise ship passengers visit yearly. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve draws visitors from around the world

Haines is a major trans-shipment point because of its ice-free, deep-water port and dock and year-round road access to Canada and Interior Alaska on the Haines and Alaska Highways. It is a northern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System, a cruise ship port-of-call, and a hub for transportation to and from Southeast Alaska. Haines has a state-owned 4,000' long by 100' wide paved runway, with daily scheduled flights to Juneau by small aircraft. There is also a state-owned seaplane base, two small boat harbors, a state ferry terminal, and a cruise ship dock. Freight arrives by ship, barge, plane, and truck.

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Hoonah (HNH) | www.visithoonah.com

Located on the northeast shore of Chichagof Island, 40 air miles west of Juneau, Hoonah is a small Tlingit community settled by the Huna Indians. Fishing boats line the harbor, and seafood processing is the major industry. Pleasure fishing in the area is excellent for Silver and King Salmon, as well as Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Dolly Varden trout.

Location and Climate

Hoonah is a Tlingit community located on the northeast shore of Chichagof Island, 40 air miles west of Juneau. The community lies at approximately 58.110000° North Latitude and -135.443610° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 6.6 sq. miles of land and 2.1 sq. miles of water. Hoonah's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. The airport is closed 20 to 30 days a year due to poor weather, usually during foggy periods in the spring and fall. Summer temperatures average 52 to 63 °F; winter temperatures average 26 to 39 °F. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -25 to 87 °F. Precipitation averages 100 inches annually, with 71 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics

It is the principal village for the Huna, a Tlingit tribe that has occupied the Glacier Bay/Icy Strait area since prehistory. Local legend tells of an original ancestral home in Glacier Bay that was destroyed by a glacial advance. Hoonah means "village by the cliff." The Northwest Trading Company built the first store in Hoonah in 1880. In 1881, the Presbyterian Home Mission and School was built. By 1887, 450 to 500 people were wintering in the village. A post office was established in 1901. In 1912, the Hoonah Packing Company built a large cannery one mile north of town. The Thompson Fish Company still operates today as Hoonah Cold Storage. In 1944, a fire destroyed much of the city and many priceless Tlingit cultural objects. The federal government assisted in rebuilding the community. The City of Hoonah was incorporated in 1946. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Hoonah Indian Association. The population of the community consists of 69.4% Alaska Native or part Native. Hoonah is the largest Tlingit village in Alaska. Commercial fishing and logging have supported the population, and most residents maintain a subsistence lifestyle. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 348, and vacant housing units numbered 48. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 10

Economy and Transportation

Fishing and local government are mainstays of the economy. In 2009, 85 residents held commercial fishing permits. Local government and the school district are the main public sector employers while some employment occurs at the Hoonah Cold Storage plant. During the summer, Hoonah is a port of call for some cruise lines. Icy Strait Point, a former salmon cannery, is now owned by the Huna Totem Company. The Native Corporation has restored the facility that now provides a glimpse into the past of authentic remote Alaska and Native Tlingit culture while providing seasonal income for Hoonah residents. Subsistence activities are important components of the lifestyle. Salmon, halibut, shellfish, deer, waterfowl, and berries are harvested.

Hoonah is dependent on air transportation for movement of small freight and passengers. The state owns and operates an airport with a 2,997' long by 75' wide asphalt runway and a seaplane base that are both served by scheduled small aircraft from Juneau. A state ferry terminal and harbor/dock area are available. Freight arrives by barge or plane. There is a widespread logging road system on northwest Chichagof Island.

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Juneau (JNU) | www.traveljuneau.com

Juneau is one of America’s most beautiful state capitals, located on the Gastineau Channel with the looming summits of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts providing a stunning backdrop. Early settlers to Juneau included miners during Alaska's gold rush and Russian fur traders. The Tlingit and Haida Indians were some of the first settlers to this area. For a birds-eye view, the Mt. Roberts Tramway offers a short, six-minute trek to the top of the mountain, 1800 feet above the city. The Mendenhall Glacier is an impressive 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and is easily viewable from the many hiking trails in the area. Scenic Admiralty Island National Monument shelters the largest concentration of brown bears in Southeast Alaska. If you are lucky enough to see one, it will be a memory not soon forgotten.

Location and Climate

Located on the mainland of Southeast Alaska, opposite Douglas Island, Juneau was built at the heart of the Inside Passage along the Gastineau Channel. It lies 900 air miles northwest of Seattle and 577 air miles southeast of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 58.301940° North Latitude and -134.419720° West Longitude. The area encompasses 2,716.7 sq. miles of land and 538.3 sq. miles of water.  Juneau has a mild, maritime climate. Average summer temperatures range from 44 to 65 °F; winter temperatures range from 25 to 35 °F. It is in the mildest climate zone in Alaska. Annual precipitation averages 92 inches in downtown Juneau and 54 inches ten miles north at the airport. Snowfall averages 101 inches each year.

History, Culture and Demographics

The area was a fish camp for the indigenous Tlingit Indians. In 1880, nearly 20 years before the gold rushes to the Klondike and Nome, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris were led to Gold Creek by Chief Kowee of the Auk Tribe. They found mother lode deposits upstream, staked their mining claims, and developed a 160 acre incorporated city they called Harrisburg, which brought many prospectors to the area. The City of Juneau was formed in 1900. The state capital was transferred from Sitka to Juneau in 1906 while Alaska was a U.S. territory. The Treadwell and Ready Bullion mines across the channel on Douglas Island became world-scale mines, operating from 1882 to 1917. In 1916, the Alaska-Juneau gold mine was built on the mainland and became the largest operation of its kind in the world. In 1917, a cave-in and flood closed the Treadwell mine on Douglas. It produced $66 million in gold in its 35 years of operation. Fishing, canneries, transportation and trading services, and a sawmill contributed to Juneau's growth through the early 1900s. The A-J Mine closed in 1944, after producing over $80 million in gold. In 1970, the City of Juneau, the City of Douglas, and the Greater Juneau Borough were unified into the City & Borough of Juneau. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; Douglas Indian Association; Aukquan Traditional Council (not recognized). The population of the community consists of 16.6% Alaska Native or part Native. As the state capital, Juneau is supported largely by state and federal employment and by tourists cruising the Inside Passage. It is the third largest community in Alaska. About one-third of residents live downtown or on Douglas Island; the remaining two-thirds live elsewhere along the roaded area. Juneau has a Tlingit history with a strong historical influence from the early prospectors and boomtown that grew around full-scale gold mining operations. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 12,282, and vacant housing units numbered 739. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 185.

Economy and Transportation

State, local, and federal agencies provide nearly 45% of the employment in the community. Juneau is home to state legislators and their staff during the legislative session between January and April. Tourism is a significant contributor to the private sector economy during the summer months, providing a $130 million income and nearly 2,000 jobs. Over 690,000 visitors arrive by cruise ship and another 100,000 independent travelers visit Juneau each year. The Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Icefield air tours, Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier, state museum, and Mount Roberts Tramway are local attractions. Support services for logging and fish processing contribute to the Juneau economy. In 2008, 344 residents held commercial fishing permits. DIPAC, a private non-profit organization, operates a fish hatchery that increases the local salmon population. The Kennecott Green's Creek Mine produces gold, silver, lead, and zinc and is the largest silver mine in North America.

Juneau is accessible only by air and sea. Scheduled jet flights and air taxis are available at the municipally-owned Juneau International Airport. The airport has a paved 8,457' long by 150' wide runway and a seaplane landing area. Marine facilities include a seaplane landing area at Juneau Harbor, two deep draft docks, five small boat harbors, and a state ferry terminal. The Alaska Marine Highway System and cargo barges provide year-round services.

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Kake (KAE) | www.kakefirstnation.org

Kake was named for the tribe of Tlingit Indians who have been occupants of Kupreanof Island since prehistoric times. Today, it is a Tlingit village with a brisk fishing and logging trade where traditional customs are still an important part of the Kake lifestyle.  It is also home to the world's largest totem pole that rises to 132.5 feet tall.

Location and Climate

Kake is located on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island along Keku Strait, 38 air miles northwest of Petersburg and 95 air miles southwest of Juneau. The community lies at approximately 56.975830° North Latitude and -133.947220° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 8.2 sq. miles of land and 6.0 sq. miles of water.  Kake has a maritime climate characterized by cool summers and mild winters. It receives much less precipitation than is typical of Southeast Alaska, averaging 54 inches a year, with 44 inches of snow. Average summer temperatures range from 44 to 62 °F; winter temperatures average 26 to 43 °F. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -14 to 88 °F.

History, Culture and Demographics

Historically, the Kake tribe of the Tlingits controlled the trade routes around Kuiu and Kupreanof islands, defending their territory against other tribal groups in the region. Ventures into the region by early European explorers and traders resulted in occasional skirmishes between Native Tlingits and foreigners. Tensions between locals and outsiders had been escalating when, in 1869, a non-Native sentry at the settlement in Sitka shot and killed a Kake Native. In accordance with their traditional custom, the Kakes then killed two prospectors in retribution. In reprisal, the U.S. Navy sent the USS Saginaw to punish the Kakes by shelling their villages and destroying their homes, boats, and stored foods. The Kake people survived this onslaught but were forced to disperse and live with other tribes to survive. Over the following 20 years, the Kakes regrouped at the current village site. In 1891, a government school and store were built. A Society of Friends mission was also established. A post office was built in 1904. In the early part of the 20th century, Kake became the first Alaska Native village to organize under federal law, resulting in U.S. citizenship for community residents. In 1912, the first cannery was built near Kake. After the Second World War, timber harvesting and processing became a major local industry. The city was incorporated in 1952.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Organized Village of Kake; Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The population of the community consists of 74.6% Alaska Native or part Native. It is a Tlingit village with a fishing, logging, and subsistence lifestyle. Traditional customs are important to the Kakes. The world's largest totem pole was commissioned by Kake and carved by Chilkats in 1967 for Alaska's centennial celebration. The 132-foot totem pole now stands on a bluff overlooking town. Sale of alcohol is restricted to the city-owned package store.During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 288, and vacant housing units numbered 42. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 12.

Economy and Transportation

The city, school district, and Kake Tribal Corporation are the largest employers. The non-profit Gunnuk Creek Hatchery has assisted in sustaining the salmon fishery. Salmon, halibut, shellfish, deer, bear, waterfowl, and berries are important food sources. In 2009, 45 residents held commercial fishing permits.

Kake can be reached by air and sea. There are scheduled float plane and air taxi flights from Juneau and Sitka. Kake has a state-owned 4,000'' ong by 100' wide lighted paved runway west of town and a seaplane base at the city dock. Alaska Marine Highway ferry and barge services are available. Facilities also include a small boat harbor, boat launch, deep water dock, and state ferry terminal. There are about 120 miles of logging roads in the Kake area, but no connections to other communities on Kupreanof Island.

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Ketchikan (KTN) | www.visit-ketchikan.com

As Alaska's southern most port or “First City”, Ketchikan is the first major community reached by travelers heading north. Founded as a fishing camp, and built on the steep hillsides overlooking the Tongass Narrows, Ketchikan has been named the ‘Salmon Capital of the World’. Totem Bight State Historical Park, home to the world’s largest collection of totem poles, Creek Street Boardwalk with its historic cable car, quaint shops and galleries, and a flight-seeing tour of the breathtaking scenery of the Misty Fjords National Monument are all stops that should not be missed on your Alaska Marine Highway itinerary..

Location and Climate

Ketchikan is located on the southwestern coast of Revillagigedo Island, opposite Gravina Island, near the southern boundary of Alaska. It is 679 miles north of Seattle and 235 miles south of Juneau. The 2.2 million acre Misty Fiords National Monument lies 22 air miles east of Ketchikan. It is the first Alaska port of call for northbound cruise ships and state ferries. The community lies at approximately 55.342220° North Latitude and -131.646110° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 3.4 sq. miles of land and 0.8 sq. miles of water.  The area lies in a maritime climate zone noted for its warm winters, cool summers, and heavy precipitation. Summer temperatures range from 51 to 65 °F; winter temperatures range from 29 to 39 °F. Ketchikan averages 162 inches (13.5 feet) of precipitation annually, with 32 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics

Tongass and Cape Fox Tlingits used Ketchikan Creek as a fish camp, which they called "kitschk-hin," meaning creek of "the thundering wings of an eagle." The abundant fish and timber resources attracted non-Natives to Ketchikan. In 1885, Mike Martin bought 160 acres from Chief Kyan, which later became the township. The first cannery opened in 1886 near the mouth of Ketchikan Creek and four more were built by 1912. The Ketchikan Post Office was established in 1892, and the city was incorporated in 1900. By this time, nearby gold and copper discoveries had briefly brought activity to Ketchikan as a mining supply center.

During 1936, seven canneries were in operation, producing 1.5 million cases of salmon. The need for lumber for new construction and packing boxes spawned the Ketchikan Spruce Mills in 1903, which operated for over 70 years. Spruce was in high demand during World War II, and Ketchikan became a supply center for area logging. A $55 million pulp mill was constructed at Ward Cove near Ketchikan in 1954. Its operation fueled the growth of the community. The mill's 50-year contract with the U.S. Forest service for timber was canceled, and the pulp mill closed in March 1997. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Ketchikan Indian Corporation; Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The population of the community consists of 22.7% Alaska Native or part Native.Ketchikan is a diverse community. Most Native residents are Tlingit. The largest collection of totem poles in the world is found at Totem Bight State Historical Park, Saxman Native Village, and the Totem Heritage Center Museum. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 3,645, and vacant housing units numbered 448. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 65.

Economy and Transportation

Ketchikan has a diverse economy and is a service center. It is a major port of entry into Southeast Alaska. Ketchikan is supported by a large fishing fleet, fish processing, tourism, and timber. In 2009, 286 area residents held commercial fishing permits. Several processing and cold storage facilities support the fishing industry. The Deer Mountain Hatchery is managed and operated by Ketchikan Indian Community promoting Native values throughout the operation. Mainly cruise ships passengers, though also some independent travelers, visit Ketchikan.

Regularly-scheduled jet services offer air service. The state-owned Ketchikan International Airport has a paved, lighted 7,500' long by 150' wide asphalt runway. The airport lies on Gravina Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from Ketchikan's waterfront. Ketchikan is a regional transportation hub, with numerous air taxi services to surrounding communities. There are four major float plane landing facilities: Tongass Narrows, Peninsula Point, Ketchikan Harbor, and Murphy's. Ketchikan is the first port of call in Alaska for cruise ships and Alaska Marine Highway vessels. Harbor and docking facilities include a breakwater, a deep draft dock, five small boat harbors, a dry dock and ship repair yard, boat launch, and a state ferry terminal. The shipyard is privately owned. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority operates a once-daily, year-round ferry service between Ketchikan and Hollis.

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Metlakatla (MET) | www.metlakatla.com

Located on Annette Island, at the southern tip of the Alexander Archipelago, Metlakatla was settled as a religious colony of Tsimshian Indian converts who relocated to the island from British Columbia. The Alaska Marine Highway provides year-round service to Annette Bay five days per week. Annette Bay is accessible by Walden Point Road, located 14 miles outside Metlakatla.

Location and Climate

Metlakatla is located at Port Chester on the west coast of Annette Island, 15 miles south of Ketchikan. By air, it is 3.5 hours from Anchorage and 1.5 hours from Seattle. The community lies at approximately 55.129590° North Latitude and -131.574960° West Longitude. Metlakatla is in the maritime climate zone with warm winters, cool summers, and an average annual precipitation of 115 inches (nearly 10 feet) and 61 inches of snowfall. Two-hundred inches of annual rainfall has been recorded. Summer temperatures range from 36 to 52 °F; winter temperatures range from 28 to 42 °F.

History, Culture and Demographics

Metlakatla means "saltwater channel passage" and was founded by a group of Canadian Tsimshians who migrated from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in 1887, seeking religious freedom. They were led by Reverend William Duncan, a Scottish lay priest of the Anglican Church (Church of England), who had begun his missionary work with the Tsimshians at Fort Simpson, BC, in 1857. Rev. Duncan traveled to Washington, DC, around 1886 to personally request land from President Grover Cleveland for the Tsimshians. The island was selected by a local search committee, and by 1890 there were 823 residents. Congress declared Annette Island a federal Indian reservation in 1891. Residents built a church, school, sawmill, and cannery and constructed homes in an orderly grid pattern. Duncan continued to inspire and lead his followers until his death in 1918. In 1927, the community built a hydroelectric plant. During World War II, the U.S. Army constructed a large air base a few miles from town, which was later used for commercial amphibian flights to Ketchikan. The U.S. Coast Guard also maintained a base on the island until 1976. The Annette Island Reserve remains the only federal reservation for indigenous peoples in Alaska. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve. The population of the community consists of 89.7% Alaska Native or part Native. It is a traditional Tsimshian community on the federal Annette Island Reserve, with an active economy and subsistence lifestyle. It is the only Indian reservation in Alaska. The community was not part of ANSCA. The 86,000 acre island reservation and surrounding 3,000 feet of coastal waters are locally-controlled and not subject to state jurisdiction. The community regulates commercial fishing in these waters and also operates its own tribal court system, including a tribal juvenile court and tribal appellate court. Salmon, halibut, cod, seaweed, clams, and waterfowl are important subsistence food sources. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 531, and vacant housing units numbered 62. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 11.

Economy and Transportation

Metlakatla's economy is based primarily on fishing, fish processing, and services. Because it is a federal Indian reservation, there are no local taxes. The community built a salmon hatchery on Tamgas Creek, which releases millions of fry of all five salmon species. The largest employer is the Metlakatla Indian Community, which operates the hatchery, the tribal court, and all local services. Annette Island Packing Company is a cold storage facility owned by the community. The cannery and two sawmills no longer operate. In 2009, 39 residents held commercial fishing permits. The community is interested in developing tourism. Residents rely on salmon, halibut, clams, and waterfowl for food.

Metlakatla is accessible by air and water. The Annette Island Airport is owned and operated by the community, with a 7,493' long and 150' wide asphalt runway and a 5,709' long by 150' wide gravel crosswind runway. Two seaplane bases are available; one is state-owned, and the other is at Port Chester and community-owned. Scheduled float plane services are available from Ketchikan. Port facilities include a dock with a barge ramp, two small boat harbors, and two marine ways. The Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal is located in Annette Bay. Round trip service is provided to Ketchikan two times per day five days per week. Annette Bay can be accessed from Metlakatla by the 14.7 National Scenic Byway, Walden Point Road. The road was built in cooperation with the US Army as a training excercise for soldiers.

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Pelican (PEL) | www.pelican.net

In the mid 1930's, Pelican was nothing more than two large barges serving as cold storage for locally-caught salmon. Pelican grew with the fishing industry, and now consists of a main boardwalk and a cluster of weather-worn buildings that cling to the side of Chichagof Island. Besides great fishing and beautiful scenery, Pelican's main attraction is Rosie's bar, where fishermen have been carving their initials in the ceiling since the first beer was served.

Location and Climate

Pelican is located on the northwest coast of Chichagof Island on Lisianski Inlet. It lies 80 miles north of Sitka and 70 miles west of Juneau. Pelican is located 10 miles down Lisianski Inlet from its mouth at Cross Sound. Most of the community is built on pilings over the tidelands. Sunnyside and Phonograph are two residential areas on either side of Pelican with close ties to the community. The community lies at approximately 57.960830° North Latitude and -136.227500° West Longitude. The area encompasses 0.6 sq. miles of land and 0.1 sq. miles of water.  Pelican has a maritime climate characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 51 to 62 °F; winter temperatures range from 21 to 39 °F. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -3 to 84 °F. Annual precipitation averages 127 inches, with 120 inches of snow. During winter months, fog, high winds, and high seas can limit access.

History, Culture and Demographics

A cold storage plant was the first development at this site in 1938. Kalle (Charley) Raataikainen bought fish in this area, which he transported to Sitka. He chose this protected inlet as an ideal cold storage site and named the place after his fish-packing vessel "The Pelican." Two of his fish-buying scows were used as a cookhouse, mess hall, bunkhouse, and warehouse, and the community of Pelican grew around this operation; today the seafood plant is in flux, and its future is uncertain. A store, office, sawmill, post office, and sauna had been erected by 1939. A school and cannery were developed in the 1940s, and a city was formed in 1943. A boardwalk serves as the town's main thoroughfare, due to the lack of flat land. 

The population of the community consists of 25.8% Alaska Native or part Native. Pelican, Alaska, is a fishing community. The economy is highly dependent on commercial salmon fishing and longline halibut and sablefish. Most people in Pelican rely on subsistence resources as an important part of their lifestyle. The community has increased activity in the visitor industry and from recreational boaters. There is a seasonal population influx of commercial fishermen and seasonal residents. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 94, and vacant housing units numbered 24. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 9.

Economy and Transportation

Commercial fishing is the mainstay of Pelican's economy. In 2009, 40 residents held commercial fishing permits. The commercial fishing sector provides most employment opportuntities. There is a small value-added seafood processor. Several businesses in Pelican cater to the visitor industry. The Pelican Utility District, which owns the electric utility and fuel company, also employs some residents. The city and school provide year-round employment for several residents as well.

Pelican is dependent on float planes and the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry for travel. Daily scheduled air taxi services are available from Juneau. Facilities include a small boat harbor with a seaplane dock and state ferry terminal. The ferry provides two monthly departures during summer months and one monthly departure during winter. Barge service is available only on an as-needed basis

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Petersburg (PSG) | www.petersburg.org

Petersburg is a town that still makes its living from the sea. Although it is not a current port of call for the major cruise lines, they welcome visitors to experience their Norwegian heritage which shows beautifully in the decorative designs found on its homes and shop fronts.  The southernmost tidewater glacier in Alaska, the LeConte, is only 20 miles by boat from Petersburg. Local tours to the fjord offer spectacular views of the calving activity and the bergs of all shapes and sizes that fill the bay.

Location and Climate

Petersburg is located on the northwest end of Mitkof Island, where the Wrangell Narrows meet Frederick Sound. It lies midway between Juneau and Ketchikan, about 120 miles from either community. The community lies at approximately 56.812500° North Latitude and -132.955560° West Longitude. The area encompasses 43.9 sq. miles of land and 2.2 sq. miles of water.  Petersburg's climate is characterized by mild winters, cool summers, and year-round rainfall. Average summer temperatures range from 40 to 56 °F; winters average from 27 to 43 °F. Annual precipitation averages 106 inches, with 97 inches of snow.

History, Culture and Demographics

Tlingit Indians from Kake utilized the north end of Mitkof Island as a summer fish camp. Some reportedly began living year-round at the site, including John Lot. Petersburg was named after Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant and a pioneer in the cannery business, who arrived in the late 1890s. He built the Icy Strait Packing Company cannery, a sawmill, and a dock by 1900. His family's homesteads grew into this community, populated largely by people of Scandinavian origin. In 1910, a city was formed, and by 1920 600 people lived in Petersburg year-round. During this time, fresh salmon and halibut were packed in glacier ice for shipment. Alaska's first shrimp processor, Alaska Glacier Seafoods, was founded here in 1916. A cold storage plant was built in 1926. The cannery has operated continuously and is now known as Petersburg Fisheries, a subsidiary of Icicle Seafoods, Inc. Across the narrows is the town of Kupreanof, which was once busy with fur farms, a boat repair yard, and a sawmill. Petersburg has developed into one of Alaska's major fishing communities. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Petersburg Indian Association. The population of the community consists of 12% Alaska Native or part Native. The community maintains a mixture of Tlingit and Scandinavian history. It is known as "Little Norway" for its history and annual Little Norway Festival during May. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,367, and vacant housing units numbered 127. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 25.

Economy and Transportation

Since its beginning, Petersburg's economy has been based on commercial fishing and timber harvests. Petersburg is currently one of the top-ranking ports in the U.S. for the quality and value of fish landed. In 2009, 455 residents held commercial fishing permits. Several processors operate cold storage, canneries, and custom packing services. The state runs the Crystal Lake Hatchery, which contributes to the local salmon resource. Residents include salmon, halibut, shrimp, and crab in their diet. Petersburg is the supply and service center for many area logging camps. Independent sportsmen and tourists utilize the local charter boats and lodges, but there is no deep water dock suitable for cruise ships.

Petersburg is accessed by air and water. It is on the mainline state ferry route. The state-owned James A. Johnson Airport has a 6000' long and 150' wide runway for scheduled jet service. Lloyd R. Roundtree Seaplane Base (on the Wrangell Narrows) allows for float plane services. Harbor facilities include a petroleum wharf, barge terminals, three boat harbors with moorage for 700 boats, a boat launch, and a boat haul-out. Freight arrives by barge, ferry, or cargo plane. There is no deep-water dock for large ships (such as cruise ships); passengers are lightered to shore.

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Prince Rupert, BC (YPR) | www.visitprincerupert.com

For those passengers preferring to drive north to experience the beauty of British Columbia’s north coast, Prince Rupert also offers an embarkation port for the Alaska Marine Highway. A visit to the Museum of Northern British Columbia is the center of the cultural history of the Northwest coast, or tour the North Pacific Cannery Village Museum, a restored heritage site which offers live performances highlighting its history. BC Ferries Corporation offers sailings to Prince Rupert from other Canadian ports.

Extensive online resources can be found through the City of Prince Rupert website.

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Sitka (SIT) | www.sitka.org

Situated on Baranof Island between snowcapped mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Sitka is one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Alaska and has a unique blend of Tlingit culture and Russian History. Sitka was the seaside capital of Russian America and a visit here is like stepping back in time to the 18th century. St. Michael's Cathedral is an excellent example of the Russian architecture that can still be found throughout Alaska. Stroll through the town's quaint shops and enjoy a performance by the Russian dancers. Located on the outer coast of the Inside Passage, Sitka is only accessible by air or sea.

Location and Climate

Sitka is located on the west coast of Baranof Island fronting the Pacific Ocean, on Sitka Sound. An extinct volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, rises 3,200 feet above the community. It is 95 air miles southwest of Juneau and 185 miles northwest of Ketchikan. Seattle, Washington, lies 862 air miles to the south. The community lies at approximately 57.053060° North Latitude and -135.330000° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 2,874.0 sq. miles of land and 1,937.5 sq. miles of water.  January temperatures range from 23 to 35 °F; summers vary from 48 to 61 °F. Average annual precipitation is 96 inches, including 39 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics

Sitka was originally inhabited by a major tribe of Tlingits, who called the village "Shee Atika." Russian Vitus Bering's expedition arrived in 1741, and the site became "New Archangel" in 1799. St. Michael's Redoubt trading post and fort were built here by Alexander Baranof, manager of the Russian-American company. Tlingits burned down the fort and looted the warehouse in 1802. In 1804, the Russians retaliated by destroying the Tlingit Fort in the Battle of Sitka. This was the last major stand by the Tlingits against the Russians, and they evacuated the area until about 1822. By 1808, Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska. Baranof was Governor from 1790 through 1818. During the mid-1800s, Sitka was the major port on the north Pacific coast, with ships calling from many nations. Furs destined for European and Asian markets were the main export, but salmon, lumber, and ice were also exported to Hawaii, Mexico, and California. After the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867, it remained the capital of the territory until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. A Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson, started a school, and in 1878 one of the first canneries in Alaska was built in Sitka. During the early 1900s, gold mines contributed to its growth, and the city was incorporated in 1913. During World War II, the town was fortified and the U.S. Navy built an air base on Japonski Island across the harbor, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. After the war, the BIA converted some of the buildings to be used as a boarding school for Alaska Natives, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The U.S. Coast Guard now maintains the air station and other facilities on the island. A large pulp mill began operations at Silver Bay in 1960. In 1971, the city and borough governments were unified. Sitka offers abundant resources and a diverse economy. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes. The population of the community consists of 24.7% Alaska Native or part Native. Tlingit and Russian culture influence Sitkan arts and artifacts and remain a part of the local color. Sitka has year-round access to outdoor recreation in the Gulf of Alaska and Tongass National Forest. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 3,650, and vacant housing units numbered 372. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 169.

Economy and Transportation

The economy is diversified with fishing, fish processing, tourism, government, transportation, retail, and healthcare services. Cruise ships bring over 200,000 visitors annually. In 2009, 572 residents held commercial fishing permits, and fish processing provides seasonal employment. Sitka Sound Seafood and the Seafood Producers Co-op are major employers. Regional healthcare services, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard also employ a number of residents.

The state-owned Rocky Gutierrez Airport on Japonski Island has a 6,500' long by 150' wide paved and lighted runway. In addition to daily jet service, several scheduled air taxis, air charters, and helicopters are available. The city and borough operates five small boat harbors with 1,350 stalls and a seaplane base on Sitka Sound at Baranof Warm Spring Bay. There is a breakwater at Thompson Harbor but no deep draft dock. A boat launch, haul-out, boat repairs, and other services exist. Cruise ships anchor in the harbor and lighter visitors to shore. The Alaska Marine Highway System has a docking facility. The ferry serves Sitka several times a week with a six hour run to Juneau. Freight arrives by barge and cargo plane.

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Skagway (SGY) | www.skagway.com

Alaska's Gateway to the Yukon, Skagway owes its birth to the Gold Rush of '98. The U.S. Park Service and the City of Skagway have made this one of the best historic sites in Alaska. The Klondike Highway follows part of the White Pass route and connects with the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

Location and Climate

Skagway is located 90 miles northeast of Juneau at the northernmost end of Lynn Canal, at the head of Taiya Inlet. It lies 108 road miles south of Whitehorse and is just west of the Canadian border with British Columbia.It lies at approximately 59.458330° North Latitude and -135.313890° West Longitude. The area encompasses 452.4 sq. miles of land and 11.9 sq. miles of water. Skagway experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Average summer temperatures range from 45 to 67 °F; winter temperatures average 18 to 37 °F. Within the shadow of the mountains, Skagway receives less rain than is typical of Southeast Alaska, averaging 26 inches of precipitation per year and 39 inches of snow.

History, Culture and Demographics

Skagway was originally known by the Tlingits as Skagua, meaning "windy place"; it was used by the Chilkoots and Chilkats for hunting and fishing. In 1896, gold was discovered 600 miles away in the Yukon; Skagway acted as the starting-off point for prospectors. In 1897 a post office, a church, and a newspaper were founded in Skagway, and its population rose to 10,000. In 1900, Skagway became the first incorporated city in Alaska, beating Juneau by a day. The Bank of Alaska opened in Skagway in 1916. The first tourism boom began in the mid-1920s. During WWII, Skagway stationed as many as 3,000 troops, who worked to construct the Alcan Highway. There was a major flood of the Skagway River in 1967 that breached area dikes. The Klondike Highway to Dawson City opened in 1979. In 1994, the city dock collapsed and sent a tidal wave across the bay; the dock was rebuilt within the year. The city was dissolved in 2007 and became the first first-class borough in Alaska that same year. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Skaqway Village. The population of the community consists of 5.1% Alaska Native or part Native. Skagway is predominantly a tourist community, with historical Tlingit influences. Downtown buildings have been colorfully restored to reflect the history of the gold rush through the Chilkoot Pass. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 502, and vacant housing units numbered 101. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 47.

Economy and Transportation

The tourist industry flourishes in Skagway, as a port of call for cruise ships and a transfer site for rail and interior bus tours. Approximately one-million cruise ship passengers visit Skagway each year, in addition to RV traffic and numerous state ferry travelers. The Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park and White Pass and Yukon Railroad are major attractions. An Economic Impact Study conducted by the City of Skagway in 1999 found that 51% of the owners of visitor-related businesses are not year-round residents. Trans-shipment of lead/zinc ore, fuel, and freight occurs via the Port and Klondike Highway to and from Canada. In 2009, five residents held commercial fishing permits. Skagway is working on diversifying its economy.

The Klondike and Alaska Highways provide a connection through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, Canada, to the lower 48 states or north to Interior Alaska. Skagway is accessed by air, road, and water services. The state owns the 3,550' long by 75' wide paved runway and a seaplane base at the boat harbor, with scheduled air taxis. Skagway receives regular Alaska Marine Highway ferry and barge services. A breakwater, ferry terminal, cruise ship dock, small boat harbor, boat launch, and boat haul-out are available. The White Pass and Yukon Route Company owns two deep draft docks for cargo loading and storage. Freight arrives by barge, ferry, and truck.

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Tenakee (TKE) | www.tenakeespringsak.com

The small community of Tenakee is also located on Chichagof Island. It was once a remote Alaska spa destination for miners who came to enjoy the warm mineral springs, and to this day has no vehicles or public roadways. Today, year-round residents are joined by summer visitors who still come to "take the waters" and have also discovered the excellent saltwater fishing in the area.

Location and Climate

Tenakee Springs is located on the east side of Chichagof Island, on the north shore of Tenakee Inlet. It lies 45 miles southwest of Juneau and 50 miles northeast of Sitka. The community lies at approximately 57.780830° North Latitude and -135.218890° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 13.8 sq. miles of land and 5.3 sq. miles of water.  Tenakee Springs has a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 45 to 65 °F and winters from 24 to 39 °F. The highest recorded temperature is 84 °F, and the lowest recorded temperature is 3 °F. Total precipitation averages 69 inches a year, with 62 inches of snow.

History, Culture and Demographics

The word Tenakee is from the Tlingit word "tinaghu," meaning "Coppery Shield Bay." This refers to three copper shields, highly prized by the Tlingits, that were lost in a storm. Early prospectors and fishermen came to the site to wait out the winters and enjoy the natural hot springs in Tenakee. Around 1895, a large tub and building were constructed to provide a warm bathing place for the increasing number of visitors. In 1899 Ed Snyder established Snyder's Mercantile, which still operates today. A post office opened in 1903. Originally called Tenakee, the name was altered to Tenakee Springs in 1928. Improvements to the hot springs facilities were made in 1915 and 1929; the existing bathhouse was constructed in 1940. Three canneries operated in the area between 1916 and 1974. A logging camp operated for a time at Corner Bay. The city incorporated in 1971. 

The population of the community consists of 4.8% Alaska Native or part Native. Tenakee Springs has a year-round population and also serves as a summer retreat for residents of Juneau, Sitka, Washington, and Oregon. Many residents practice a subsistence lifestyle and actively exchange resources with their neighbors. The 104 °F sulfur hot springs is the social focus of the community. Bathing times are posted for men and women. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 144, and vacant housing units numbered 85. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 79.

Economy and Transportation

Tenakee Springs has long been considered a retirement and vacation community, though fishing is an important source of income. In 2009, 12 residents held commercial fishing permits. Tourism is becoming increasingly important. Local employers include various city department and the store, school, bakery, and post office. In addition, there are several skilled carpenters and contractors. There are 3 small lumber mills in town.

Tenakee Springs is dependent on seaplanes and the Alaska Marine Highway for transport. The states owns a seaplane dock and heliport. Scheduled or chartered float planes are dispatched from Juneau and Sitka. The state ferry provides passenger transportation only, since there are no vehicle landing facilities or local roads in Tenakee. Barges deliver fuel and goods four to six times a year. The marine facilities include a small boat harbor and ferry terminal. The City of Tenakee owns a fuel dock. There is a 3-mile long main street. Local transportation is primarily by bicycle or ATV.

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Wrangell (WRG) | www.wrangell.com

Alaska's fourth oldest city, Wrangell is the only community to have existed under four nations: Tlingit, Russian, British, and American. Situated at the mouth of the Stikine River, the ancient history of Wrangell is revealed by the mysterious petroglyphs that can easily be seen along the beaches at low tide. Wrangell also hosts the largest springtime concentration of bald eagles in the world. Local tours are available to both the river and the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory.

Location and Climate

The City and Borough of Wrangell is located on the northwest tip of Wrangell Island, 155 miles south of Juneau and 89 miles northwest of Ketchikan. It is near the mouth of the Stikine River, a historic trade route to the Canadian Interior. It lies at approximately 56.470830° North Latitude and -132.376670° West Longitude. The area encompasses 2,582.0 sq. miles of land and 883.0 sq. miles of water. Wrangell is in the maritime climatic zone and experiences cool summers, mild winters, and year-round rainfall. Summer temperatures typically range from 42 to 64 °F; winter temperatures range from 21 to 44 °F. Average annual precipitation is 82 inches,with 64 inches of snowfall. Fog is common from September through December.

History, Culture and Demographics

Wrangell is one of the oldest non-Native settlements in Alaska. In 1811 the Russians began fur trading with area Tlingits and built a stockade named Redoubt St. Dionysius in 1834. The island was named for Ferdinand Von Wrangel, manager of the Russian-American Co. around 1830. The British of Hudson Bay Co. leased the fort in 1840 and named the stockade Fort Stikine. A large Stikine Indian village, known as Kotzlitzna, was located 13 miles south of the fort. The Tlingits claimed their own ancient trade rights to the Stikine River and protested when the Hudson Bay Co. began to use their trade routes, but two epidemics of smallpox, in 1836 and 1840, reduced the Tlingit population by half. The fort was abandoned in 1849 when furs were depleted. The fort remained under the British flag until Alaska's purchase by the U.S. in 1867. In 1868 a U.S. military post called Fort Wrangell was established and named for the island. The community continued to grow as an outfitter for gold prospectors, especially in 1861, 1874-77, and 1897. Riotous activity filled gambling halls, dance halls, and the streets. Thousands of miners traveled up the Stikine River into the Cassiar District of British Columbia during 1874 and to the Klondike in 1897. Glacier Packing Co. began operating in Wrangell in 1889. The Wilson & Sylvester Sawmill provided packing boxes for canneries and lumber for construction. The city was incorporated in 1903. By 1916, fishing and forest products had become the primary industries -- four canneries and a cold storage plant were constructed by the late 1920s. In the 1930s, cold packing of crab and shrimp was occurring. Abundant spruce and hemlock resources have helped to expand the lumber and wood products industry. The Alaska Pulp sawmill, Wrangell's largest employer, closed in late 1994 but was reopened on a smaller scale in 1998 by Silver Bay Logging. The city was dissolved and reincorporated as the City and Borough of Wrangell on June 1, 2008.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Wrangell Cooperative Association. The population of the community consists of 24% Alaska Native or part Native. Wrangell is primarily a non-Native community with a mixture of Tlingit, Russian, British, and American historical influences. Logging and fishing have supported the community. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,098.

Economy and Transportation

Wrangell's economy is based on commercial fishing, tourism, and timber from the Tongass National Forest. Fishing and fish processing are an important segment of the economy. In 2009, 226 residents held commercial fishing permits. Dive fisheries are also under development -- 60 divers harvest sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and geoducks. Wrangell offers a a 150-ton marine travel lift and adjacent boat yard, which have increased marine-related support industries. There is a deep-water port, which is able to cater to large cruise ships. Stikine River and the surrounding area attract independent travelers for fishing, glacier viewing, and kayaking adventure tours. Anan Wildlife Observatory is famous for black and brown bear viewing. 

The city is accessible by air and water. The state-owned 5,999' long by 150' wide paved lighted runway allows for jet service. A seaplane base is adjacent to the runway. Charter air taxi services are also available. The marine facilities include a breakwater, deep draft dock, Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal, three boat harbors with 710 slips for recreational and commercial vessels, and three boat launches. Freight arrives by barge, ship, ferry, and cargo plane.

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Yakutat (YAK) | www.yakutatalaska.com

Located on the scenic Gulf Coast of Alaska, and surrounded by Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Tongass National Forest, Yakutat attracts a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts to hike beaches, float rivers, explore bays and passages, climb mountains, view glaciers, snowboard, and surf remote breaks. Yakutat Bay provides some of the finest saltwater sport fishing in Alaska.

Location and Climate

Yakutat is isolated among the lowlands along the Gulf of Alaska, 225 miles northwest of Juneau and 220 miles southeast of Cordova. It is at the mouth of Yakutat Bay, one of the few refuges for vessels along this stretch of coast. The Hubbard and Malaspina Glaciers are nearby. Its boundaries are the Canadian border to the north, Cape Suckling to the west, and Cape Fairweather to the east. Yakutat Borough is within and surrounded by the Tongass National Forests, Wrangell St-Elias National Park and Preserve, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.It lies at approximately 59.546940° North Latitude and -139.727220° West Longitude. The area encompasses 7,650.5 sq. miles of land and 1,808.8 sq. miles of water. Yakutat has a maritime climate characterized by relatively mild, often rainy weather. Summer temperatures range from 42 to 60 °F and winter temperatures from 17 to 39 °F. Yakutat receives some of the heaviest precipitation in the state, averaging 132 inches of precipitation and 219 inches of snowfall each year.

History, Culture and Demographics

Yakutat has a diverse cultural history. The original settlers are believed to have been Eyak-speaking people from the Copper River area who were conquered by the Tlingits. Yakutat means "the place where the canoes rest." In the 18th and 19th centuries, English, French, Spanish, and Russian explorers came to the region. Fur traders were attracted to the region's sea otters. The Russian-American Company built a fort in Yakutat in 1805 to harvest sea otter pelts. Because the Russians would not allow local Tlingits access to their traditional fisheries, a Tlingit war party attacked and destroyed the post. In 1884 the Alaska Commercial Company opened a store in Yakutat. By 1886, the black sand beaches in the area were being mined for gold. In 1889 the Swedish Free Mission Church had opened a school and sawmill in the area. A cannery, sawmill, store, and railroad were constructed beginning in 1903 by the Stimson Lumber Company. Most residents moved to the current site of Yakutat to be closer to the cannery, which operated through 1970. During World War II, a large aviation garrison and paved runway were constructed. Troops were withdrawn after the war, but the runway is still in use. The City of Yakutat was formed in 1948, but in 1992 the city was dissolved and a borough was organized for the region.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe; Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The population of the community consists of 46.8% Alaska Native or part Native. The area maintains a traditional Tlingit culture with influences from the original Eyak Athabascans, as well as Russian, English, and American traders and miners. Fishing and subsistence activities are prevalent. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 499, and vacant housing units numbered 234. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 178.

Economy and Transportation

Yakutat's economy is dependent on fishing, fish processing, and government. In 2009, 156 residents held commercial fishing permits. North Pacific Processors is the major private employer. Recreational fishing opportunities, both saltwater and freshwater, are world-class. Most residents depend on subsistence hunting and fishing. Salmon, trout, shellfish, deer, moose, bear, and goats are harvested.

Yakutat has no road access. The airport has daily commercial jet service. There are also air taxis and float plane services to Yakutat. The state owns two jet-certified runways; one is concrete and 6,475' long by 150' wide, and the other is asphalt and 7,745' long by 150' wide. The airport is located three miles southeast of town, and a seaplane base is available one mile northwest. The U.S. Forest Service owns five airstrips in the vicinity, and the National Park Service operates one at East Alsek River. The borough operates the state-owned boat harbor and the Ocean Cape Dock. Monti Bay is the only sheltered deep water port in the Gulf of Alaska. Barges deliver goods monthly during the winter and more frequently in summer.

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South Central Alaska Communities

Chenega Bay (CHB)

Location and Climate

Chenega Bay is located on Evans Island at Crab Bay, 42 miles southeast of Whittier in Prince William Sound. It is 104 air miles southeast of Anchorage and 50 miles east of Seward. The community lies at approximately 60.065710° North Latitude and -148.010380° West Longitude. Winter temperatures range from 17 to 28 °F. Summer temperatures range 49 to 63 °F. Average annual precipitation includes 66 inches of rain and 80 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics

The name of this Alutiiq village was first reported by Ivan Petroff in the 1880 Census. At that time, the village was located on the southern tip of Chenega Island. A post office was established in 1946. Tsunamis destroyed the village and killed over half of all residents in the sound after the 1964 Earthquake. The village was reestablished twenty years later on Evans Island, at the site of the former Crab Bay herring saltery. In the summer of 1984, 21 homes, an office building, community hall, school, 2 teacher's houses, a church, and community store were constructed. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Chenega (aka Chanega). The population of the community consists of 77.9% Alaska Native or part Native. Chenega Bay is an Alutiiq community practicing a subsistence and commercial fishing lifestyle. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 27, and vacant housing units numbered 5. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 2.

Economy and Transportation

Commercial fishing, a small oyster farming operation, and subsistence activities occur in Chenega. Cash employment opportunities are very limited. In recent years, Chenega's population has declined.

Chenega has a small boat harbor and dock. A 3,000' long by 75' wide gravel runway and float plane landing area are available. Scheduled and chartered flights depart from Cordova, Valdez, Anchorage, and Seward.

In 1996, the Alaska Marine Highway began "whistle-stop" service to the small communities of Tatitlek and Chenega Bay, made possible by the construction of new docks to provide staging areas for oil spill response capabilities in Prince William Sound.

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Cordova (CDV) | www.cordovachamber.com

A uniquely Alaskan community, Cordova is shaped by its dramatic natural setting, cultural heritage and its colorful residents. Nestled in the heart of a spectacular wilderness, the community looks to the ocean and forests for its livelihood. A fishing port, where you can watch commercial fishermen bring in their catch or try your hand at sport fishing, walk on Sheridan Glacier, or ride the chair lift to the top of Eyak Mountain.

Location and Climate

Cordova is located at the southeastern end of Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. The community was built on Orca Inlet at the base of Eyak Mountain. It lies 52 air miles southeast of Valdez and 150 miles southeast of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 60.542780° North Latitude and -145.757500° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 61.4 sq. miles of land and 14.3 sq. miles of water.  Winter temperatures average from 17 to 28 °F. Summer temperatures average from 49 to 63 °F. Average annual precipitation is 167 inches, and average annual snowfall is 80 inches.

History, Culture and Demographics

The area has historically been home to the Alutiiq and migrating Athabascan and Tlingit Natives who called themselves Eyaks. Alaskan Natives of other descents also settled in Cordova. Orca Inlet was originally named "Puerto Cordova" by Don Salvador Fidalgo in 1790. One of the first producing oilfields in Alaska was discovered at Katalla, 47 miles southeast of Cordova, in 1902. The town of Cordova was named in 1906 by Michael Heney, builder of the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad, and the city was formed in 1909. Cordova became the railroad terminus and ocean shipping port for copper ore from the Kennecott Mine up the Copper River. The first trainload of ore was loaded onto the steamship "Northwestern," bound for a smelter in Tacoma, Washington, in April 1911. The Bonanza-Kennecott Mines operated until 1938 and yielded over $200 million in copper, silver, and gold. The Katalla oil field produced until 1933, when it was destroyed by fire. Fishing became the economic base in the early 1940s. 

The population of the community consists of 15% Alaska Native or part Native. Cordova has a significant Eyak Athabascan population with an active village council. Commercial fishing and subsistence are central to the community's culture. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,099, and vacant housing units numbered 141.Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 68. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 1,221 residents as employed.

Economy and Transportation

Cordova supports a large fishing fleet for Prince William Sound and several fish processing plants. In 2009, 318 residents held commercial fishing permits, and nearly half of all households have someone working in commercial harvesting or processing. Copper River red salmon, pink salmon, herring, halibut, bottom fish, and other types of fish are harvested. Reduced salmon prices have affected the economy. The largest employers are Trident Seafoods, Inc., Cordova School District, Cordova Hospital, the city, and the Department of Transportation. The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Coast Guard maintain personnel in Cordova.

Cordova is accessed by plane or boat. It is linked directly to the North Pacific Ocean shipping lanes through the Gulf of Alaska. It receives year-round barge services and Alaska Marine Highway service. The Merle K. "Mudhole" Smith Airport at mile 13 is state-owned and -operated, with a 7,500' long by 150' wide asphalt runway and 1,899' long by 30' wide gravel crosswind runway. The state-owned and city-operated Cordova Municipal Airport has a 1,800' long by 60' wide gravel runway. Daily scheduled jet flights and air taxis are available. Float planes land at the Lake Eyak seaplane base or the boat harbor. Harbor facilities include a breakwater, dock, small boat harbor with 850 berths, boat launch, boat haul-out, ferry terminal, and marine repair services. A 52-mile road, the scenic Copper River Highway provides access to the Copper River. Plans for a highway up the Copper River to connect with the statewide road system have been controversial.

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Homer (HOM) | www.homeralaska.org

Overlooking Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains, Homer sports a lively recreation scene along the 5-mile long, world-famous Homer Spit, and offers travelers unbelievably spectacular views. The harbor is lined with charter boats for hire, with fresh halibut, crab and shrimp that can be purchased from seafood shops along the docks.

Location and Climate

Homer is located on the north shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwestern edge of the Kenai Peninsula. The Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile long bar of gravel, extends from the Homer shoreline. It is 227 road miles south of Anchorage, at the southern-most point of the Sterling Highway. The community lies at approximately 59.642500° North Latitude and -151.548330° West Longitude. The area encompasses 10.6 sq. miles of land and 14.9 sq. miles of water.  Homer lies in the maritime climate zone. During the winter, temperatures range from 14 to 27 °F; summer temperatures vary from 45 to 65 °F. Average annual precipitation is 24 inches, with 55 inches of snow.

History, Culture and Demographics

The Homer area has been home to Kenaitze Indians for thousands of years. In 1895, the U.S. Geological Survey arrived to study coal and gold resources. Prospectors bound for Hope and Sunrise disembarked at the Homer Spit. The community was named for Homer Pennock, a gold mining company promoter, who arrived in 1896 and built living quarters for his crew of 50 on the spit. Their plans were to mine the beach sands along Cook Inlet, from Homer to Ninilchik. The Homer Post Office opened shortly thereafter. In 1899, Cook Inlet Coal Fields Company built a town and dock on the spit, a coal mine at Homer's Bluff Point, and a 7-mile-long railroad that carried the coal to the end of Homer Spit. Various coal mining operations continued until World War I, and settlers continued to trickle into the area, some to homestead in the 1930s and 40s, others to work in the canneries built to process Cook Inlet fish. Coal provided fuel for homes, and there is still an estimated 400 million tons of coal deposits in the vicinity of Homer. The city government was incorporated in March 1964. After the Good Friday Earthquake in 1964, the Homer Spit sunk approximately 4 to 6 feet, and several buildings had to be relocated. 

The population of the community consists of 6.2% Alaska Native or part Native. While commercial fishing has long been the mainstay of the Homer economy, tourism has become increasingly important. Homer is known as an arts community and is also a gateway community in relation to more remote destinations, such as Kachemak Bay State Park and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Activities and events, such as the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby and Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, draw many participants. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,873, and vacant housing units numbered 274. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 129.

Economy and Transportation

Homer is primarily a fishing, fish processing, and trade and service center, and it enjoys a considerable seasonal visitor industry. It has also become a popular retirement community. Approximately 10 cruise ships dock each summer. During summer months, the population swells with students and others seeking cannery or fishery employment. Sport fishing for halibut and salmon contribute significantly to the economy. In 2009, 549 area residents held commercial fishing permits. The fish dock is equipped with cold storage facilities, ice manufacturing, and a vacuum fish-loading system. The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center is popular for tourism and also serves as the headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The National Park Service maintains a regional office. Government and health care are major employers.

Homer is accessible through the Sterling Highway. It is often referred to as "The End of the Road," because it lies at the terminus of the Sterling Highway. The state owns and operates the Homer Airport, with a 6,701' long by 150' wide asphalt runway and float plane basin and a seaplane base at Beluga Lake. The city is served by scheduled and chartered aircraft services. There are additional private landing strips in the vicinity. The Alaska Marine Highway and local ferry services provide water transportation. The deep-water dock can accommodate 30-foot drafts and 340-foot vessels. There is a cruise ship dock, a boat harbor with moorage for 920 vessels, and a 4-lane boat launch ramp.

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Seldovia (SDV) | www.seldoviachamber.org

Located on the shores of Kachemak Bay, Seldovia is accessible only by air or sea. The remote location has allowed the community to maintain many of its age-old Russian traditions. Seldovia offers a view of Alaska's fishing industry with vessels moving in and out of the Bay, fresh catches in live tanks and fish processing at a local salmon plant.

Location and Climate

Seldovia is on the Kenai Peninsula on the south shore of Kachemak Bay, a 15-minute flight across from Homer. Flight time to Anchorage is 45 minutes. The community lies at approximately 59.438060° North Latitude and -151.711390° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 0.4 sq. miles of land and 0.2 sq. miles of water.  Winter temperatures in Seldovia average from 12 to 21 °F; summers range from 48 to 65 °F. Annual precipitation averages 34.5 inches.

History, Culture and Demographics

Native residents are mixed Dena'ina Indian and Aleut and Sugpiaq Eskimo (also known as Alutiiq). The name Seldovia is derived from "Seldevoy," a Russian word meaning "herring bay." Between 1869 and 1882, a trading post was located in Seldovia. A post office was established in 1898. The village developed around commercial fishing and fish processing. The City of Seldovia was incorporated in 1945.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Seldovia Village Tribe. The population of the community consists of 23.1% Alaska Native or part Native. Seldovia is an Alutiiq village. Commercial fishing and subsistence are an integral part of the local culture. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 232, and vacant housing units numbered 98. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 81.

Economy and Transportation

Seldovia is a commercial fishing center; shellfish farming also occurs. In 2009, 46 residents held commercial fishing permits.

A state-owned 1,845' long by 60' wide gravel airstrip and a seaplane base are available. Direct flights are provided to Homer. The Alaska Marine Hghway System connects to Homer, where the Sterling Highway provides road access. Water taxis from Homer also service the community. A harbor, boat washdown, and boat haul-out facility are available.

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Tatitlek (TAT) | www.tatitlek.com

Located on the mainland in Prince William Sound, Tatitlek lies 30 miles east of Valdez by sea. A small Alutiiq village with a population of less than 100 residents, the Alaska Marine Highway began whistle stop service to the small communities of Tatitlek and Chenega Bay, made possible by the construction of new docks to provide staging areas for oil spill response capabilities in Prince William Sound.

Location and Climate

Tatitlek is located on the northeast shore of Tatitlek Narrows, on the Alaska Mainland in Prince William Sound. It lies near Bligh Island, southwest of Valdez by sea and 30 air miles northwest of Cordova. The community lies at approximately 60.864720° North Latitude and -146.678610° West Longitude.  Winter temperatures range from 17 to 28 °F; summers average 49 to 63 °F. Annual precipitation averages 28 inches of rain and 150 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics

It is an Alutiiq village first reported in the 1880 U.S. Census as "Tatikhlek," with a population of 73. The present spelling was published in 1910 by the U.S. Geological Survey, which wrote that the village originally stood at the head of Gladhaugh Bay but was moved to its present site in the shadow of Copper Mountain around 1900. A post office was established in 1946. Many residents of Chenega moved to Tatitlek following its destruction by tsunami after the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. The dominant feature in the village is the blue-domed Russian Orthodox church. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Tatitlek. The population of the community consists of 85% Alaska Native or part Native. Tatitlek is a coastal Alutiiq village with a fishing- and subsistence-based culture. The sale and importation of alcohol is banned in the village. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 57, and vacant housing units numbered 19. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 14.

Economy and Transportation

Fish processing and oyster farming provide some employment in Tatitlek. In 2009, two residents held commercial fishing permits. Subsistence activities provide the majority of food items. A coho salmon hatchery, supporting subsistence activities, is located at Boulder Bay. The community has a store.

Tatitlek has a state-owned 3,701' long by 75' wide lighted gravel airstrip and a seaplane landing area; air charters are available from Valdez and Cordova. Boats are the primary means of local transportation.

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Valdez (VDZ) | www.valdezalaska.org

The crashing glaciers and towering Chugach Mountains rising from the sea make Valdez absolutely picturesque. The Valdez area is home to five glaciers that can be easily accessed. Plentiful with activities in both summer and winter, and connected to the scenic Richardson Highway it makes a great debarkation point for travelers with vehicles on the Alaska Marine Highway. Come and experience the natural beauty that entices visitors from around the world, Valdez is a must for your itinerary.

Location and Climate

Valdez is located on the north shore of Port Valdez, a deep water fjord in Prince William Sound. It lies 305 road miles east of Anchorage and 364 road miles south of Fairbanks. It is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. The community lies at approximately 61.130830° North Latitude and -146.348330° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 222.0 sq. miles of land and 55.1 sq. miles of water.  January temperatures range from 21 to 30 °F; July temperatures are from 46 to 61 °F. Annual precipitation averages 62 inches. The average snowfall is, incredibly, 325 inches (27 feet) annually.

History, Culture and Demographics

The Port of Valdez was named in 1790 by Don Salvador Fidalgo for the celebrated Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdes y Basan. Due to its excellent ice-free port, a town developed in 1898 as a debarkation point for men seeking a route to the Eagle Mining District and the Klondike gold fields. Valdez soon became the supply center of its own gold-mining region and incorporated as a city in 1901. Fort Liscum was established in 1900, and a sled and wagon road was constructed to Fort Egbert in Eagle by the U.S. Army. The Alaska Road Commission further developed the road for automobile travel to Fairbanks; it was completed by the early 1920s. A slide of unstable submerged land during the 1964 earthquake destroyed the original city waterfront, killing several residents. The community was rebuilt on a more stable bedrock foundation four miles to the west. During the 1970s, construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline terminal and other cargo transportation facilities brought rapid growth to Valdez. In March 1989 it was the center for the massive oil-spill cleanup after the "Exxon Valdez" disaster. In a few short days, the population of the town tripled.

The population of the community consists of 10.2% Alaska Native or part Native. As a result of significant oil taxation revenues, the city offers a variety of quality public services. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,645, and vacant housing units numbered 151. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 46.

Economy and Transportation

As the southern terminus and off-loading point of oil extracted from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope, Valdez has one of the highest municipal tax bases in Alaska. Four of the top ten employers in Valdez are directly connected to the oil terminus. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company employs nearly 300 persons. Valdez is a major seaport, with a $48 million cargo and container facility. City, state, and federal agencies provide significant employment. In 2009, 41 residents held commercial fishing permits. Two fish processing plants (Peter Pan and Trident Seafoods) operate in Valdez. Valdez Fisheries Development Association operates the year-round Valdez Fish Hatchery and a processing plant during harvest season. Several cruise ships dock in Valdez each year. Valdez is a foreign free trade zone.

The Richardson Highway connects Valdez to Alaska's road system. The Port Valdez is ice-free and is navigated by hundreds of ocean-going oil cargo vessels each year. The Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System provides transport to Cordova only in the winter and to Whittier, Cordova, Kodiak, Seward, and Homer in the summer. Valdez has the largest floating concrete dock in the world, with a 1,200' front and water depth exceeding 80'. Numerous cargo and container facilities are present in Valdez. A small harbor accommodates 546 commercial fishing boats and recreational vessels. Boat launches and haul-out services are available. Both barges and trucking services deliver cargo to the city. The airport is operated by the state, with a 6,500' long by 150' wide paved runway. The seaplane base is located at Robe Lake.

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Whittier (WTR) | www.whittieralaska.gov

Nestled between glacier-capped mountains and Prince William Sound, Whittier is a focal point for marine activity and connects the seaport to the new highway built in 2000. The spectacular drive from the edge of Prince William Sound through the Chugach Mountains winds through a series of tunnels, and connects Whittier to Anchorage only 64 miles to the north on scenic Seward Highway. Travelers also have the option of taking the famed Alaska Railroad from Whittier all the way to Fairbanks. Passengers traveling to and from Whittier are strongly advised to check the Whittier Tunnel website for a schedule of when the tunnel is open to vehicle traffic. There are size restrictions for vehicles, while bicycle and foot traffic is prohibited. Other restrictions may apply so please call toll-free at (877) 611-2586.

Location and Climate

Whittier is on the northeast shore of the Kenai Peninsula, at the head of Passage Canal. It is on the west side of Prince William Sound, 60 miles southeast of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 60.773060° North Latitude and -148.683890° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 12.5 sq. miles of land and 7.2 sq. miles of water.  Winter temperatures range from 17 to 28 °F; summer temperatures average 49 to 63 °F. Average annual precipitation includes 197 inches of rain and 241 inches of snowfall.

History, Culture and Demographics

Passage Canal was once the quickest route from Prince William Sound to Cook Inlet. Chugach Indians would portage to Turnagain Arm in search of fish. Nearby Whittier Glacier was named for the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier; the name was first published in 1915 by the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey. A port and a railroad terminus were constructed by the U.S. Army for transporting fuel and other supplies into Alaska during World War II. The railroad spur and two tunnels were completed in 1943, and the Whittier Port became the entrance for troops and dependents of the Alaska Command. The huge buildings that dominate Whittier began construction in 1948. The 14-story Hodge Building (now Begich Towers) was built with 198 apartments for army bachelor quarters and family housing. The Buckner Building, completed in 1953, had 1,000 apartments and was once the largest building in Alaska. It was called the "city under one roof," with a hospital, bowling alley, theater, gym, swimming pool, and shops for Army personnel. Whittier Manor was built in the early 1950s by private developers as rental units for civilian employees. The port remained an active army facility until 1960; at that time, the population was 1,200. Whittier Manor was converted to condominiums in 1964; Begich Towers now houses the majority of residents, as the Buckner Building is no longer occupied. The city was incorporated in 1969. 

The population of the community consists of 12.6% Alaska Native or part Native. Residents enjoy sport-fishing, commercial fishing, and subsistence activities. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 213, and vacant housing units numbered 127. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 79.

Economy and Transportation

The city, school, local services, and summer tourism support Whittier. Tours, charters, and sportfishing in Prince William Sound attract seasonal visitors. In 2009, three residents held commercial fishing permits.

Whittier has an ice-free port and two city docks (70' cargo dock and 60' floating passenger dock). A small boat harbor has slips for 360 fishing, recreation, and charter vessels. It is served by road, rail, Alaska Marine Highway, boat, and aircraft. Since 2000, a tunnel has provided a road connection. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel was reconstructed to accommodate both rail and road vehicles. The railway carries passengers, vehicles, and cargo 12 miles from the Portage Station east of Girdwood. The state-owned 1,480' long by 58' wide gravel airstrip accommodates charter aircraft, and a city-owned seaplane dock is available for passenger transfer.

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Southwest Alaska Communities

Akutan (AKU) | www.aleutianseast.org

Akutan is located in the center of some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world, and huge amounts of seafood products -- primarily crab, halibut, cod, pollock --are processed in the shelter of its deep bay and at a large shore-based processing plant. Although the Aleut population of the local village remains at 90-100, it grows to about 1,000 during certain fishing seasons.

Location and Climate

Akutan is located on Akutan Island in the eastern Aleutians, one of the Krenitzin Islands of the Fox Island group. It is 35 miles east of Unalaska and 766 air miles southwest of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 54.135560° North Latitude and -165.773060° West Longitude. The area encompasses 14.0 sq. miles of land and 4.9 sq. miles of water.  Akutan lies in the maritime climate zone, with mild winters and cool summers. Mean temperatures range from 22 to 55 °F. Precipitation averages 28 inches per year. High winds and storms are frequent in the winter, and fog is common in the summer.

History, Culture and Demographics

Akutan began in 1878 as a fur storage and trading port for the Western Fur & Trading Company. The company's agent established a commercial cod fishing and processing business that quickly attracted nearby Unangans to the community. A Russian Orthodox church and a school were built in 1878. Alexander Nevsky Chapel was built in 1918 to replace the original structure. The Pacific Whaling Company built a whale processing station across the bay from Akutan in 1912. It was the only whaling station in the Aleutians and operated until 1939. After the Japanese attacked Unalaska in June 1942, the U.S. government evacuated Akutan residents to the Ketchikan area. The village was re-established in 1944, although many villagers chose not to return. This exposure to the outside world brought many changes to the traditional lifestyle and attitudes of the community. The city was incorporated in 1979.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Akutan. The population of the community consists of 16.4% Alaska Native or part Native. Akutan is a fishing community and is the site of a traditional Unangan village. Approximately 75 persons are year-round residents; the majority of the population are transient fish processing workers that live in group quarters. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 38, and vacant housing units numbered 4.

Economy and Transportation

Commercial fish processing dominates Akutan's cash-based economy, and many locals are seasonally employed. Trident Seafoods operates a large processing plant for cod, crab, pollock, and fish meal west of the city. The population of Akutan can double during processing months. In 2009, ten residents held commercial fishing permits, primarily for halibut and other groundfish. Subsistence foods include seal, salmon, herring, halibut, clams, wild cattle, and game birds.

Boats and amphibious aircraft are the only means of transportation into Akutan. A 200 ft. dock and a small boat mooring basin are available. The Alaska Marine Highway ferry operates from Kodiak semi-monthly between May and October. Cargo is delivered weekly by freighter from Seattle; the city owns and operates a landing craft. Akutan has no airstrip due to the steep terrain; however, a 10,000' by 1,000' seaplane base is available and open to the public. There is air service to nearby Unalaska. High waves may limit accessibility during winter months.

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Chignik (CHG)

Chignik is actually three villages: Chignik Lake, Chignik Lagoon, and Chignik Bay, where the Alaska Marine Highway ferry docks at one of two canneries at its first stop on the run out the Aleutian chain. Like the other Aleutian Island communities, Chignik provides a fishing lifestyle for its residents in a rugged but beautiful environment.

Location and Climate

The City of Chignik is located on Anchorage Bay on the south shore of the Alaska Peninsula. It lies 450 miles southwest of Anchorage and 260 miles southwest of Kodiak. The community lies at approximately 56.295280° North Latitude and -158.402220° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 11.7 sq. miles of land and 4.2 sq. miles of water.  Chignik has a maritime climate characterized by cool summers and warm, rainy winters. Cloud cover and heavy winds are prevalent during winter months. Summer temperatures range from 39 to 60 °F. Winter temperatures average 20 °F. Annual precipitation averages 127 inches, with an average snowfall of 58 inches.

History, Culture and Demographics

A village called "Kalwak" was originally located here; it was destroyed during the Russian fur boom in the late 1700s. Chignik, meaning "big wind," was established in the late 1800s as a fishing village and cannery. A four-masted sailing ship called the "Star of Alaska" transported workers and supplies between Chignik and San Francisco. Chinese crews from San Francisco traveled to Chignik in early spring to make tin cans for the cannery. Japanese workers followed in mid-June to begin processing. A post office was established in 1901. Coal mining occurred from 1899 to 1915. Chignik became an incorporated city in 1983. Today, two of the historical canneries are still in operation.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Chignik Bay Tribal Council (formerly the Native Village of Chignik). The population of the community consists of 60.8% Alaska Native or part Native. The community is presently a mixture of non-Natives and Alutiiq. Subsistence on fish and caribou is important to residents' livelihoods. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 80, and vacant housing units numbered 51. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 42.

Economy and Transportation

As is typical of villages in the region, commercial fishing and subsistence activities are the mainstays of the economy. In 2009, 9 residents held commercial fishing permits. Two fish processing plants operate in Chignik: Norquest Adak and Trident Seafoods. Salmon, herring roe, halibut, cod, and crab are processed here; between 600 and 800 people come to Chignik to fish or work in the plants each summer. Residents depend on subsistence foods, including salmon, trout, crab, clams, caribou, and moose.

Chignik is accessible by air and sea. There is a state-owned 2,600' long by 60' wide gravel runway and a seaplane base. Regular flights run from King Salmon and Port Heiden. Barge services arrive weekly from late spring through early fall and monthly during the remainder of the year. The state ferry operates semi-monthly from Kodiak between May and October. A 600' privately-owned dock and boat haul-out are available. A breakwater, 110-slip small boat harbor, and public dock are under development. ATVs and skiffs are the primary means of local transportation. There is a strong regional interest in constructing roads between Chignik, Chignik Lagoon, and Chignik Lake.

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Cold Bay (CBY)

Location and Climate

Cold Bay is located in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge at the western end of the Alaska Peninsula. It lies 634 miles southwest of Anchorage and 180 miles northeast of Unalaska. The community lies at approximately 55.185830° North Latitude and -162.721110° West Longitude. The area encompasses 54.4 sq. miles of land and 16.6 sq. miles of water.  The city has a maritime climate, with temperatures ranging from 25 to 60 °F. The average annual rainfall is 36 inches, and average annual snowfall is 55 inches. Wind speeds of 30 mph are common for Cold Bay.

History, Culture and Demographics

Archaeological sites dating to the last ice age indicate the area around Cold Bay was once inhabited by a large Native population. It was used by European hunters and trappers throughout the 19th century. Izembeck Lagoon was named in 1827 by Count Feodor Kutke, after Karl Izembeck, a surgeon aboard the sloop "Moller." During World War II, Cold Bay was the site of the strategic air base Fort Randall. At that time, the airport was the largest in the state with a 10,000' runway. The city was incorporated in 1982.

The population of the community consists of 17% Alaska Native or part Native. Cold Bay services the fishing industry and houses a number of federal offices with services focused on Aleutian transportation and wildlife protection. Subsistence and recreational fishing and hunting are a part of the local culture. Up to 70,000 Canada geese migrate through Cold Bay in the fall. Izembeck Lagoon offers the world's largest eelgrass beds, providing feeding grounds for more than 100,000 brant during their spring and fall migrations. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 98, and vacant housing units numbered 62. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 17.

Economy and Transportation

State and federal government and airline support services provide the majority of local employment. Because of its central location and modern airport, Cold Bay serves as the regional center for air transportation on the Alaska Peninsula and as an international hub for private aircraft. Cold Bay also provides services and fuel for the fishing industry. In 2009, two residents held commercial fishing permits.

A state-owned 10,415' long by 150' wide paved and lighted runway with a 6,235' long by 150' wide paved crosswind runway, an FAA flight service station, and a seaplane base are available. Cold Bay is a regional transportation center and provides scheduled flights to surrounding communities. The community has a dock but wants to develop a breakwater, boat harbor, and boat launch. Marine cargo services are available monthly from Seattle but not from Anchorage. The Alaska Marine Highway operates semi-monthly from Kodiak between May and October. There are approximately 40 miles of local gravel roads.

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False Pass (FPS) | Website

False Pass is a picturesque Aleutian community in a strategic location. The town sits on the south side of Isanotski Strait, the shortest transit route between the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Its economy is based on fisheries: mostly for salmon, herring, halibut and crab.

Location and Climate

False Pass is located on the eastern shore of Unimak Island on a strait connecting the Pacific Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea. It is 646 air miles southwest of Anchorage. The city owns approximately 66 square miles of land and water. The community lies at approximately 54.853940° North Latitude and -163.408830° West Longitude. The area encompasses 26.8 sq. miles of land and 41.4 sq. miles of water. False Pass lies in the maritime climate zone. Temperatures range from 11 to 55 °F. Annual snowfall averages 56 inches, with total annual precipitation of 33 inches. Prevailing southeast winds are constant and often strong during winter. Fog is common during summer months.

History, Culture and Demographics:

The name False Pass is derived from the fact that the Bering Sea side of the strait is extremely shallow and cannot accommodate large vessels. The area was originally settled by a homesteader in the early 1900s and grew with the establishment of a cannery in 1917. Natives immigrated from Morzhovoi, Sanak Island, and Ikatan when the cannery was built. A post office was established in 1921. The cannery operated continuously, except from 1973 to 1976, when two hard winters depleted the fish resources. It was destroyed by fire in March 1981 and was not rebuilt. The city was incorporated in 1990.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of False Pass. The population of the community consists of 65.6% Alaska Native or part Native. The community is primarily Unangan. Fishing, fish processing, and subsistence activities are mainstays of the lifestyle. The sale of alcohol is restricted to the package store. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 40, and vacant housing units numbered 18. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 2.

Economy and Transportation

The local economy is driven by commercial salmon fishing and fishing services. False Pass is an important refueling stop for Bristol Bay and Bering Sea fishing fleets. Bering Pacific and Peter Pan Seafoods process the commercial catch. In 2009, six residents held commercial fishing permits. Cash income is supplemented by subsistence hunting and fishing. Salmon, halibut, geese, caribou, seals, and wild cattle on Sanak Island are utilized.

Boats and aircraft provide the only means of transportation into False Pass. A seaplane base and a state-owned 2,100' long by 75' wide gravel airstrip are available. Mail and passenger flights arrive three times weekly. There is no boat harbor, but a dock and boat ramp are available. Cargo barges are available from Seattle. No local taxi or delivery services exist in False Pass. The Alaska Marine Highway operates once a month service between May and October from Kodiak.

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King Cove (KCV) | www.cityofkingcove.com

King Cove rests on a sand spit and adjacent uplands which are located at the north end of a natural bay nestled between high mountain ridges. The community of mostly Aleuts, has developed around one of the largest fish processing centers in the United States.

Location and Climate

King Cove is located on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, on a sand spit fronting Deer Passage and Deer Island. It is 18 miles southeast of Cold Bay and 625 miles southwest of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 55.061670° North Latitude and -162.310280° West Longitude. The area encompasses 25.3 sq. miles of land and 4.5 sq. miles of water.  King Cove lies in the maritime climate zone. Temperatures average 25 to 55 °F, with extremes from -9 to 76 °F. Annual snowfall averages 52 inches, and total annual precipitation averages 33 inches. Fog during summer and high winds during winter can limit accessibility.

History, Culture and Demographics

King Cove was founded in 1911 when Pacific American Fisheries built a salmon cannery. Early settlers were Unangan, Scandinavian, and other European fishermen. Of the first ten founding families, five consisted of a European father and an Aleut mother. The city was incorporated in 1949. The cannery operated continuously between 1911 and 1976, when it was partially destroyed by fire. The adoption of the 200-mile fisheries limit spurred rebuilding. King Cove remains tied to fishing and fish processing. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove. The population of the community consists of 47.9% Alaska Native or part Native. Scandinavians have historically influenced the cultural, economic, and social structures. King Cove is a mixed non-Native and Unangan community. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 207, and vacant housing units numbered 37. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 24.

Economy and Transportation

King Cove's economy depends almost completely on the year-round commercial fishing and seafood processing industries. The Peter Pan Seafoods facility is one of the largest cannery operations under one roof in Alaska. Up to 500 non-residents are brought up to work in the cannery as needed. In 2009, 50 residents held commercial fishing permits. Income is supplemented by subsistence activities. Salmon, caribou, geese, and ptarmigan provide food sources.

King Cove is accessible only by air and sea. A state-owned 3,500' long by 100' wide gravel runway is available. Gale force crosswinds are common, as the airport lies in a valley between two volcanic peaks. Currently a hovercraft provides regular service to Cold Bay, which enjoys more stable flying conditions. The Alaska Marine Highway operates semi-monthly between May and October in King Cove. The ferry and marine cargo services use one of three docks owned by Peter Pan Seafoods. A deep water dock is also operated by the city. The North Harbor provides moorage for 90 boats and is ice-free all year. The new Babe Newman Harbor is operated by the city and provides additional moorage for 60' to 150' long fishing vessels.

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Kodiak (KOD) | www.kodiak.org

At 3,588 square miles, Kodiak Island is the second largest in the United States, and is home to world-class sport fishing and one of the largest commercial fishing ports in the nation. The magnificent green that the island turns during the summer months is why Kodiak is affectionately known as Alaska’s Emerald Isle. Famous for the mighty Kodiak Brown Bear, close to 3,000 of these giant bears live in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Location and Climate

Kodiak is located near the northwestern tip of Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Kodiak Island (aka: "the emerald isle") is the largest island in Alaska and is the second largest island in the US. Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge encompasses nearly 1.9 million acres on Kodiak and Afognak Islands. It is 252 air miles south of Anchorage (a 45-minute flight) and is a 4-hour flight from Seattle. The community lies at approximately 57.788890° North Latitude and -152.401900° West Longitude. The area encompasses 3.5 sq. miles of land and 1.4 sq. miles of water.  The climate of the Kodiak Islands has a strong marine influence. There is little to no freezing weather, moderate precipitation, occasional high winds, and frequent cloud cover and fog. Severe storms are common from December through February. Annual rainfall averages 67 inches, and annual snowfall averages 78 inches. January temperatures range from 14 to 46 °F; July temperatures vary from 39 to 76 °F.

History, Culture and Demographics

The island has been inhabited for the past 8,000 years. The first non-Native contacts were in 1763 by Russian Stephen Glotov and in 1792 by Alexander Baranov, a Russian fur trapper. Sea otter pelts were the primary incentive for Russian exploration, and a settlement was established at Chiniak Bay, the site of present-day Kodiak. At that time, there were over 6,500 Sugpiaqs (Koniags) in the area and the island was called "Kikhtak." It later was known as "Kadiak," the Inuit word for island. Kodiak became the first capital of Russian Alaska, and Russian colonization had a devastating effect on the local Native population. By the time Alaska became a U.S. territory in 1867, the Koniag-region Eskimos had almost disappeared as a viable culture. Alutiiq (Russian-Aleut) is the present-day Native language. Sea otter fur harvesting was the major commercial enterprise and eventually led to the near extinction of the species. However, in 1882 a fish cannery opened at the Karluk spit. This sparked the development of commercial fishing in the area. The Town of Kodiak was incorporated in 1940. During the Aleutian Campaign of World War II, the Navy and the Army built bases on the island. Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1939 and later became the first secret radar installation in Alaska. Development continued, and the 1960s brought growth in commercial fisheries and fish processing. The 1964 earthquake and subsequent tidal wave virtually leveled downtown Kodiak. The fishing fleet, processing plant, canneries, and 158 homes were destroyed - $30 million in damage. The infrastructure was rebuilt, and, by 1968, Kodiak had become the largest fishing port in the U.S. in terms of dollar value. The Magnusson Act in 1976 extended the U.S. jurisdiction of marine resources to 200 miles offshore, which reduced competition from the foreign fleet and, over time, allowed Kodiak to develop a groundfish processing industry.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak; (formerly the Shoonaq' Tribe of Kodiak; Kodiak Island Inter-Tribal Council (tribal contractor). The population of the community consists of 13.1% Alaska Native or part Native. The local culture surrounds commercial and subsistence fishing activities. The US Coast Guard comprises a significant portion of the community, and there is a large seasonal population. Kodiak is primarily non-Native, and the majority of the Native population are Alutiiq. Filipinos are also a large subculture in Kodiak. A Russian Orthodox church seminary is based in Kodiak, one of two existing seminaries in the U.S. The Shoonaq' Tribe of Kodiak was federally recognized in January 2001. Kodiak College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage, is located in the City of Kodiak. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 2,255, and vacant housing units numbered 259. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 32 .

Economy and Transportation

The Kodiak economy is based on fishing, seafood processing, retail services, and government. Adaptability and diversification in a variety of fisheries has enabled the Kodiak economy to develop and stabilize. In 2009, 531 area residents held commercial fishing permits, and numerous fish processing companies operate here year-round. The largest processors include Trident, Ocean Beauty, North Pacific, and Western Processors. The hospital and city also rank among the top employers. The largest U.S. Coast Guard station lies just south of the city. The Kodiak Launch Complex, a $38 million low-Earth orbit launch facility on 27 acres, was completed at Cape Narrow near Chiniak. The Kodiak Launch Complex, operated by the Alaska Aerospace Dev. Corp., is the only commercial launch range in the U.S. that is not co-located with a federal facility; it launched its first payload in November 1998. The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce provides economic development services to the area.

Kodiak is accessible by air and sea. The state-owned Kodiak airport has three asphalt runways. These runways measure 7,542' long by 150' wide, 5,399' long by 150' wide, and 5,013' long by 150' wide. Kodiak Municipal Airport offers a 2,475' long by 40' wide paved runway. Three airlines serve Kodiak with several daily flights, and a number of air taxi services provide flights to other communities on the island. City-owned seaplane bases at Trident Basin and Lilly Lake accommodate floatplane traffic. The Alaska Marine Highway System operates a ferry service between Kodiak and Homer. The Port of Kodiak includes 2 boat harbors with 600 boat slips and 3 commercial piers - the ferry dock, city dock, and container terminal. Boat launch ramps and vessel haul-outs are also available. A breakwater on Near Island provides another 60 acres of mooring space at St. Herman Harbor. Approximately 140 miles of state roads connect island communities on the east side of the island.

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Old Harbor (OLD) | oldharbortribal.org

Location and Climate:

Old Harbor is located on the southeast coast of Kodiak Island, 70 miles southwest of the City of Kodiak and 322 miles southwest of Anchorage. Old Harbor is located in the Kodiak Recording District. The area encompasses 21.0 sq. miles of land and 6.2 sq. miles of water. The climate of the Kodiak Islands is dominated by a strong marine influence. There is little or no freezing weather, moderate precipitation, and frequent cloud cover and fog. Severe storms are common from December through February. Annual precipitation averages 60 inches. Temperatures remain within a narrow range, from 24 to 60 F.

History, Culture and Demographics:

The area around Old Harbor is thought to have been inhabited for nearly 2,000 years. The area was visited by the Russian Grigori Shelikov and his "Three Saints" flagship in 1784. Three Saints Bay became the first Russian colony in Alaska. In 1788, a tsunami destroyed the settlement. Two more earthquakes struck before 1792. In 1793, the town relocated from the northeast coast to "Saint Paul's," now known as Kodiak. A settlement was reestablished at Three Saints Harbor in 1884. The town was recorded as "Staruigavan,"meaning "old harbor" in Russian. The present-day Natives are Alutiiq (Russian-Aleuts). The Old Harbor post office was opened in 1931. In 1964, the Good Friday Earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed the community; only two homes and the church remained standing. The community was rebuilt in the same location. The city government was incorporated in 1966.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Village of Old Harbor; Kodiak Island Inter-Tribal Council. Old Harbor practices its traditional Alutiiq culture and subsistence lifestyle. Fishing provides income to the community. Residents of Kaguyak, a summer fish camp, also live in Old Harbor.

Economy and Transportation:

Many are commercial fishermen or crew; in 2010, 25 residents held commercial fishing permits. Most depend to some extent on subsistence activities for food sources, such as salmon, halibut, crab, deer, seal, rabbit, and bear.

Old Harbor is accessible only by air and water. A state-owned 2,750' long by 60' wide gravel runway and a seaplane base serve air traffic. Regular and charter flights are available from Kodiak. There is a harbor with docking facilities for 55 boats. Seattle-based and local barge services are available.

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Ouzinkie (OUZ) | www.ouzinkie.org

Location and Climate:

Ouzinkie is located on the west coast of Spruce Island, adjacent to Kodiak Island. It lies northwest of the City of Kodiak and 247 air miles southwest of Anchorage. Ouzinkie is located in the Kodiak Recording District. The area encompasses 6.0 sq. miles of land and 1.7 sq. miles of water. The climate of the Kodiak Islands is dominated by a strong marine influence. There is moderate precipitation, frequent cloud cover and fog, and little to no freezing weather. Severe storms are common from December through February. Annual precipitation averages 60 inches, with 87 inches of snowfall. Temperatures remain within a narrow range, from 32 to 62 F.

History, Culture and Demographics:

Ouzinkie started as a retirement community for the Russian American Company. The Russians referred to the settlement in 1849 as "Uzenkiy," meaning "village of Russians and Creoles." In 1889, the Royal Packing Company constructed a cannery at Ouzinkie. Shortly afterward, the American Packing Company built another. In 1890 a Russian Orthodox church was built, and in 1927 a post office was established. Cattle ranching was popular in the early 1900s. In 1964, the Good Friday Earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed the Ouzinkie Packing Company cannery. Following the disaster, Columbia Ward bought the remains and rebuilt the store and dock but not the cannery. The city government was incorporated in 1967. In the late 1960s, the Ouzinkie Seafoods cannery was constructed. The operation was sold to Glacier Bay and burned down in 1976 shortly after the sale. No canneries have operated since.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Ouzinkie; Kodiak Island Inter-Tribal Council. Ouzinkie is an Alutiiq village. Commercial fishing and subsistence activities support the community.

Economy and Transportation

Ouzinkie's economic base is primarily commercial salmon fishing. In 2010, 18 residents held commercial fishing permits. Almost all of the population depends to some extent on subsistence activities for various food sources. Salmon, crab, halibut, shrimp, clams, ducks, deer, and rabbit are utilized.

The village is accessible by air and water. There is a state-owned 2,085' long by 80' wide gravel airstrip and a float plane landing area at Ouzinkie Harbor. Facilities include a breakwater, small boat harbor, and dock. Barges provide cargo delivery from Seattle and Kodiak.

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Port Lions (ORI)

Port Lions, in Settler Cove on the northeast coast of Kodiak Island, offers the amenities of larger destinations such as full-service hunting and fishing lodges, the beauty of waterfalls tucked away in spruce-filled coves, beach combing, and sea kayaking through the still, blue waters of Kizkuyak Bay.

Location and Climate

Port Lions is located in Settler Cove, on the north coast of Kodiak Island, 247 air miles southwest of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 57.867500° North Latitude and -152.882220° West Longitude.  The area encompasses 6.3 sq. miles of land and 3.7 sq. miles of water.  The climate of the Kodiak Islands is dominated by a strong marine influence. There is little or no freezing weather, moderate precipitation, and frequent cloud cover and fog. Severe storms are common from December through February. Annual precipitation averages 54 inches, with 75 inches of snowfall. Temperatures remain within a narrow range, from 20 to 60 °F.

History, Culture and Demographics

The town was founded in 1964 by the displaced inhabitants of Afognak, which was destroyed by a tsunami after the Good Friday Earthquake. The community was named in honor of the Lions Club, for their support in rebuilding and relocating the village. The city government was incorporated in 1966. For many years, Port Lions was the site of the large Wakefield Cannery on Peregrebni Point. The cannery burned down in March 1975. Soon thereafter, the village corporation purchased a 149-foot floating processor, "The Smokwa." Although sold in 1978, "The Smokwa" processed crab in the area intermittently between 1975 and 1980. A small sawmill, located south of town, operated until 1976.  

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Port Lions; Native Village of Afognak (formerly the Village of Afognak); Kodiak Island Inter-Tribal Council. The population of the community consists of 63.7% Alaska Native or part Native. The majority of the population are Alutiiq. Most residents lead a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 106, and vacant housing units numbered 17.Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 12.

Economy and Transportation

The economy of Port Lions is based primarily on commercial fishing, fish processing, and tourism. In 2009, 18 residents held commercial fishing permits. All of the residents depend to some extent on subsistence food sources such as salmon, crab, halibut, shrimp, clams, duck, seal, deer, and rabbit.

Port Lions is accessible by air and water. There is a state-owned 2,200' long by 75' wide gravel airstrip, and the city dock may be used by seaplanes. Regular and charter flights are available from Kodiak. The boat harbor with breakwater and dock provide 82 boat slips. The Alaska Marine Highway operates semi-monthly ferry service from Kodiak between May and October. Barge service is available from Seattle.

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Sand Point (SDP) | www.ci.sandpoint.ak.us

Sand Point was originally founded as a cod fishing station in 1887, and today it continues to support the regional fishing industry. The city's harbor is home to a locally based fishing fleet, and is also heavily used by transient vessels during and between fishing seasons. Its population is mostly of Aleut and Scandinavian descent.

Location and Climate

Sand Point is located on Humboldt Harbor on Popof Island, off the Alaska Peninsula, 570 air miles from Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 55.339720° North Latitude and -160.497220° West Longitude. The area encompasses 7.8 sq. miles of land and 21.1 sq. miles of water.  Sand Point lies in the maritime climate zone. Temperatures range from -9 to 76 °F. Annual snowfall averages 52 inches, and annual precipitation averages 33 inches .

History, Culture and Demographics

Sand Point was founded in 1898 by a San Francisco fishing company as a trading post and cod-fishing station. Aleuts from surrounding villages and Scandinavian fishermen were the first residents of the community. Sand Point served as a repair and supply center for gold mining during the early 1900s, but fish processing became the dominant activity in the 1930s. The St. Nicholas Chapel, a Russian Orthodox church, was built in 1933 and is now on the National Register of Historical Places. Aleutian Cold Storage built a halibut plant in 1946. Today, it is home to the largest fishing fleet in the Aleutian Chain. The city government was incorporated in 1966. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe. The population of the community consists of 44.2% Alaska Native or part Native. Sand Point is characterized as self-sufficient and progressive, with commercial fishing activities at the heart of the local culture. There is a large transient population for fishing and cannery work. About 50% of the population are of Aleut decent. Many of the shareholders of Pauloff Harbor and Unga now live in Sand Point. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 282, and vacant housing units numbered 53. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 18.

Economy and Transportation

Sand Point is home to the largest fishing fleet in the Aleutian Chain. The state provides regional services through public safety, fish and game, and the court system. Trident Seafoods operates a major bottomfish, pollock, salmon, and fish meal plant and provides fuel and other services. Peter Pan Seafoods owns a storage and transfer station. In 2009, 102 residents held commercial fishing permits. Locals participate in subsistence consumption of fish and caribou.

Sand Point has a state-owned airport with a 5,213' long by 150' wide asphalt runway. Direct flights to Anchorage are available. Marine facilities include a 25-acre boat harbor with four docks, 134 boat slips, a harbormaster office, barge off-loading area, and a 150-ton lift. Regular barge services supply the community. The Alaska Marine Highway operates ferry service semi-monthly between May and October.

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Dutch Harbor (UNA) | www.unalaska.info

Dutch Harbor, in the city of Unalaska at the end of the Aleutian Chain, is also its largest community, with over four thousand residents. A busy fishing and seafood processing port, Dutch Harbor is also a tourist destination, with sport fishing, bird and wildlife viewing, cultural and historical exploration, or hiking and beachcombing awaiting the adventurous traveler.

Location and Climate

Unalaska overlooks Iliuliuk Bay and Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Chain. It lies 800 air miles from Anchorage (a two- to three-hour flight) and 1,700 miles northwest of Seattle. The name Dutch Harbor is often applied to the portion of the city on Amaknak Island, which is connected to Unalaska Island by bridge. Dutch Harbor is actually within the boundaries of the City of Unalaska. The community lies at approximately 53.873610° North Latitude and -166.536670° West Longitude. The area encompasses 111.0 sq. miles of land and 101.3 sq. miles of water.  January temperatures range from 25 to 35 °F; summers range from 43 to 53 °F. Average annual precipitation is 58 inches. The mean wind speed is 17 mph.

History, Culture and Demographics

More than 3,000 Unangan (known since the Russian era as "Aleuts") lived in 24 settlements on Unalaska and Amaknak Islands in 1759. Unalaska became a Russian trading port for the fur seal industry in 1768. In 1787 many hunters and their families were enslaved and relocated by the Russian American Company to the Pribilof Islands to work in the fur seal harvest. In 1825 the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Ascension of Christ was constructed. The founding priest, Ivan Veniaminov, composed the first Aleut writing system with local assistance and translated scripture into Aleut. Since Aleuts were not forced to give up their language or culture by the Russian Orthodox priests, the church became strong in the community. By 1830 and 1840, however, only 200 to 400 Aleuts lived in Unalaska. In 1880 the Methodist church opened a school, clinic, and the Jesse Lee Home for Orphans. The City of Unalaska was incorporated in March 1942. On June 3, 1942, Unalaska was attacked by the Japanese. Almost all of the Aleuts on the Island were interned to Southeast Alaska for the duration of World War II. The Russian Orthodox Church was nearly destroyed by evacuating U.S. Army troops. The church is the oldest Russian Orthodox cruciform-style church in North America. 

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska. The population of the community consists of 9.3% Alaska Native or part Native. Unalaska is a rapidly-growing and culturally-diverse community, primarily focused on fishing and fish-processing activities. Subsistence activities are important to the Unangan community and to many long-term non-Native residents, as well. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 988, and vacant housing units numbered 154. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 41.

Economy and Transportation

Unalaska's economy is based on commercial fishing, fish processing, and fleet services, such as fuel, repairs, maintenance, trade, and transportation. The community enjoys a strategic position as the center of a rich fishing area and is used for transferring cargo between Pacific Rim trading partners. The Great Circle shipping route from major west coast ports to the Pacific Rim passes within 50 miles of Unalaska, and Dutch Harbor provides a natural protection for fishing vessels. Onshore and offshore processors provide some local employment. However, non-resident workers are usually brought in during the peak season. In 2009, 32 residents held commercial fishing permits. Westward Seafoods, Unisea, Alyeska, Icicle, Trident, and Royal Aleutian Seafoods process the commercial catch. Unalaska also has a budding tourist industry.

Daily scheduled flights serve the community at the state-owned 3,900' long by 100' wide paved runway. A seaplane base is also available. The state ferry operates semi-monthly from Kodiak between April and October. There are ten major docks in Unalaska; three are operated by the city. The International Port of Dutch Harbor serves fishing vessels and shipping, with 5,200' of moorage and 1,232' of floating dock. The small boat harbor provides 238 moorage slips. The Unalaska Marine Center and US Coast Guard Dock offer cargo, passenger, and other port services.

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