2nd Class City
in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Geography and Climate
- Port Alexander is located on the south end of Baranof Island, 65 miles south of Sitka. It provides a safe harbor during the gales and storms that frequent Chatham Strait. It is also an ice-free port during the winter.
- Port Alexander is in the maritime climate zone, marked by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 41 to 55 °F; winter temperatures from 32 to 45 °F. Record temperatures range from 4 to 80 °F. The average total precipitation is 172 inches per year, with 85 inches of snow.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- In 1795, the British explorer Capt. George Vancouver recorded his entry into the cove that is now called Port Alexander. He was looking for Natives to trade with but found only a deserted village. The site was named in 1849 by Capt. M.D. Tebenkov, Governor of the Russian American colonies. In 1913, salmon trollers began using the rich fishing grounds of the South Chatham Strait area as a seasonal base. Two floating processors arrived soon after. By 1916, there was a fishing supply store, a shore station owned by Northland Trading and Packing Company, and a bakery at Port Alexander. Families of fishermen began coming to the community during the summers, and many of the first arrivals lived in tents. Karl Hansen, a Norwegian immigrant, operated a fish-buying station, the Pacific Mild Cure Company. He also sold supplies and fuel and installed a wireless station. During the 1920s and 1930s, a year-round community had evolved around the prosperous fishing fleet, and houses, stores, restaurants, a post office, and a school were constructed. A soda fountain, butcher shop, dairy, dance hall, and hotel were also built. During the summer, over 1,000 fishing boats would anchor in the protected harbor. Beginning in 1938, fish stocks declined dramatically and processing became uneconomical. The outbreak of World War II essentially collapsed the town's economy; a bankrupted, Karl Hansen left Port Alexander in the late 1940s, after 20 prosperous years and 10 years of struggle. By 1950, 22 residents lived in the town year-round. In the 1970s, state land disposal sales and upswings in salmon stocks enabled new families to build and settle in the community. The city incorporated in 1974 and detached from the City and Borough of Sitka during that year.
- Port Alexander is a fishing community.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Local Option Restrictions
- Sale of alcohol is banned.
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Water, Dock, Volunteer Fire/EMS, Bear Hall, Community Center, Health Clinic, Roads & Trails
- Transportation access to Port Alexander is by float plane or boat. A state-owned seaplane base is present. Passengers can fly from Sitka using essential air float plane service operated by Harris Air. The M/V Eyak provides year-round mail service to the community, as well as fuel and freight except in the summer. Transportation facilities include a dock and small boat harbor for moorage. As of 2014, the community is seeking funding from the legistative body to replace the outer harbor. There are no roads in Port Alexander, and the City is not connected to other communities on Baranof Island. Skiffs are used for local transportation. Most families transport their own essential supplies from outside to the community.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District
- Incorporation Type
- 2nd Class City