Welcome to Kodiak
Kodiak is THE big city here on the island. It is an hour flight from Anchorage, approximately 250 air miles southwest of Anchorage in the Gulf of Alaska. The Alaska Marine Highway Ferry also provides service to and from Kodiak and Homer, approximately a 9 ½ hour ferry ride. When you arrive in Kodiak, you will notice the mountains touching the beaches and the smell of the crisp, fresh salty ocean air, blended with the sweet smell of Sitka pine trees and wildflowers. You will see the harbors full of fishing vessels or their empty slots as they are out fishing. You’ll find a beach everywhere you go, eagles soaring or nestled in a tree, and stellar sea lions perched in the boat harbor.
Kodiak Island is unique, compared to the rest of Alaska. There are six remote Alutiiq villages on the island, and several remote wilderness lodges and campsites scattered along the archipelago. Kodiak Island is known for the famous Kodiak Brown Bear, it is the largest brown bear in the world. There are approximately 3,500 brown bears on the Kodiak archipelago. It is a commercial fishing community with the third largest port in the United States.
Near Island is located across the only bridge that connects with Kodiak Island. There are several walking trails that lead to beaches and provide beautiful views of the channel and Kodiak city. St. Herman’s Harbor in Dog Bay, provides a boat harbor to fishing vessels, and charter boats. Kodiak Fisheries Research center provides a touch tank and aquarium, and is a wonderful way to learn about Kodiak’s marine life.
Downtown Kodiak beautifully faces St. Paul’s Harbor. Fishermen can get off their boats and walk up to restaurants for fine dining. There are several gift shops, book stores, sporting good stores, galleries, and local arts in downtown Kodiak. The Baranov Museum is located downtown across the ferry dock, where you can learn about the history of Kodiak, and the Russian influence it had on our island. The Alutiiq Museum is located near the Russian Orthodox Church, where you can learn about the Alutiiq history and culture, buy authentic Alutiiq jewelry, gifts, and arts made by locals. The newly built National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center is also located near the Baranov Museum, where you can see spectacular art and displays and learn about the wildlife and marine life on Kodiak Island. All these locations are of walking distances in downtown Kodiak. There are several other galleries, gift shops, toy stores, coffee shops, bakeries, sporting good stores, local arts, and more along the road system as well, and are worth adventuring out to see.
Antone Larsen Bay is an unpaved 12 mile, a 40 minute drive that passes the only golf coarse in Kodiak while getting close up views of Pyramid Mountain. While driving through the mountain pass and down into a beautiful grassy valley is where boats can dock up and take clients out for a charter or to a nearby village or remote location. It is just a beautiful drive.
There are several bed and breakfasts, lodges and tour guides located outside the city limits of Kodiak that are located on the road system. The road system stretches out to Bells Flats, Chiniak Bay, and to Monashka Bay. There are many beaches, trails, rivers, and streams along the road system, that provide fishing opportunities such as; day hikes, picnics, camping, breathtaking views of coastline and mountains, berry picking, beachcombing, and opportunities to get out of the city of Kodiak, but yet still on the road system.
- 1763 Russian explorer Stephan Glotov discovered Kodiak Island.
- 1778 English Captain Cook explored the island and wrote about it in his journals.
- Late 1700’s, the Russian Orthodox missionaries settled on the island.
Kodiak was chosen by Alexander Baranov, manager of a sea otter and seal hunting company in 1792. Kodiak was the first capital of the Russian -America and the center of Russian fur trading.
In 1808, they built a two-story log house that served as their trading post. The building later became the property of the Alaska Commercial Company (ACC) in 1867, after the sale of Alaska to the United States. The building became public offices and a storehouse. In 1911, the store manager W.J Erskine turned the building into his family home.
In 1967, the Kodiak Historical Society carefully restored the historical building and in 1972, it became the Baranov Museum. It is the oldest building documented on the west coast.
*Today, the Kodiak Historical Society and the Alutiiq Museum have formed a team of experts and volunteers to study the grounds around the Baranov Museum. They have discovered traces of Alutiiq homes over 3,000 years old, along with stone tools, a wooden dart, a spruce root basket, glass beads, gunflints, European ceramics, and other well preserved artifacts.
- 1898, Fort Kodiak was established
- 1911, A radio station was established by the U.S. Navy station on Woody Island.
- 1912, the eruption of Novarupta.
- 1930's, Kodiak's popluation was around 400-450.
- 1939, Kodiak Navy Base began, today the site is where the largest U.S. Coast Guard Base in the United States is located. The U.S Navy chose Kodiak due to the ice free waters. The Navy began to worry about the Japanese using the Aleutian Islands to attack the Continental United States.
- Before WWII ended, Kodiak's population jumped to around 4,000 people. Due to the Army, Navy, contract workers, and military workers, along with their dependants.
- 1940, Kodiak becomes a first class city.
- 1941, December 7th- The attack on Peal Harbor- The U.S. had only two Navy bases and Army posts in the Aleutians, one in Unalaska and the other in Kodiak.
- 1942-1943, during World War II, Kodiak ships and submarines helped protect the Aleutian Islands.
- 1943, an 8 foot gun battery was erected in Fort Greely, currently know as Fort Abercrombie, the infantry troops stood ready to defend, but the enemy never came.
- 1947, the U.S Coast Guard Base was established in Kodiak.
- 1950, the population dwindled to 2,000.
- 1957, October 4th, the U.S set up a satellite tracking device and control facility near Chiniak, upon the anticipation to the launching of Sputnik.
- 1964 earthquake and tsunami nearly destroyed all the communities.
- By the end of 1966, there were 18 seafood plants in Kodiak.
- 1971, the Navy left
- 1972, Bio-Dry, Inc. began operating in Kodiak.
- 1981, Kodiak was designated as the number one fisheries port in the nation.
Today, Kodiak is a blended community of Alutiiq, Russian, and Scandinavian cultures.
Resources: Alaska's Konyag Country; Baranov website, Alutiiq Museum website, Kodiak State Parks website, Picture of Kodiak City From Pillar Mt. Taken By Gloria Selby, Russian Orthodox Church By Robert Sherod, Pictures of Stellar sealions, Road to Chiniak, and Boat Taken By Barbara Bundy.