Area: 43.9 square miles
Population: 3,224 (2000 census)
Petersburg, midway between Ketchikan and Juneau, is at the northern end of the famed 21-mile-long Wrangell Narrows, a narrow but spectacular channel.
This community, unlike many Alaskan towns, was never a tent-and-log-cabin boom town. "Peter's Burg" was carefully plotted by its Scandinavian founder Peter Buschmann, who started a salmon cannery and sawmill here in 1897.
Fishing and tourism are the mainstays of the community's approximate 3,000 residents. One of Alaska's largest fishing fleets supplies salmon, halibut, shrimp and crab to the several fish processing and cold storage plants scattered along the waterfront. Petersburg is perhaps one of the prettiest seacoast communities on the shores of the Pacific. The spic-and-span tidiness of the city, the ordered beauty of scores of white fishing boats at moorage in the harbor, and the natural beauty of the island-dotted seascape make the city a memorable stopover.
The town's five-block-long main street parallels the waterfront with its canneries, wharves and fuel docks perched on pilings driven deep into the ocean floor. At the south end of main street, Sing Lee Alley winds between several old buildings including the Sons of Norway Hall. Nearby, a plank road skirts the warehouses and homes built along the bank of a tiny saltwater inlet, Hammer Slough.
Petersburg Visitor Information Center/Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, at First and Fram Street, 907-772-3646; open Mon. - Sat. 9 to 5, Sunday noon to 4pm. web: www.petersburg.org
Clausen Memorial Museum, 203 Fram Street, open daily 9:30 to 4:30 May 1 to September 21. 907-772-3598. Showcases Petersburg's history with many interesting artifacts including the world record King salmon (126 lbs).
Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Sing Lee Ally, open weekdays; 907-772-3801.
U.S. Forest Service, Petersburg Ranger District 907-772-3871, 2nd Floor, Federal Building, open weekdays. Box 1328, Petersburg, AK 99833.
Emergency only 911: State Troopers 772-3100; Petersburg Medical Center 772-4291.
Things To Do
Frederick Sound just north of Petersburg is summer home to one of the most unique population of humpback whales in the world and boasts some of the best whale watching in North America. There are several charter operators that specialize in trips to Frederick Sound. Check with the Chamber of Commerce for information.
Norwegian Festival held each year on the third weekend of May, celebrates Norway's Independence Day. This is a colorful event with old-country costumes, dances, singing and eating traditional foods.
Sons of Norway Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is on pilings overlooking Hammer Slough and is a favorite with photographers. It was built in 1912.
Spectacular LeConte Glacier, set in a deep canyon at the head of LeConte Bay east of Petersburg, is the most southerly tidewater glacier on the coast. For charter information contact the Chamber of Commerce. 907-772-3646.
Wrangell Narrows is found approximately 1.5 hours north of Wrangell. It is a 23 mile long channel that was dredged in the 1940's to accommodate the larger vessels that had begun to travel to Alaska.