Area: 3.5 square miles
Population: 6,334 (2000 census)
County: Kodiak Island
The city of Kodiak on the eastern coast of Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska is only a 60 minute jet flight from Anchorage. This community is Alaska's sixth largest and is situated on the second largest island under the American flag. Over 15,575 residents live on the island of Kodiak, including the outer villages and the U.S. Coast Guard Base.
Kodiak Island is perhaps best known for its giant brown bears, the largest land carnivores on earth. They can weigh over 1200 pounds and, when standing erect, can measure over 11 feet tall. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 of these magnificent animals live on the remote reaches of the island.
Cool summer ocean breezes and mild winter winds give Kodiak a moderate climate. However, because of its proximity to the ever changing influence of the cold Arctic waters and the effects of the warm Japanese current, the weather is often rainy, foggy, and certainly ever changing.
When the sun shines on Kodiak, and it does quite often, you'll be treated to some of the most spectacular coastal and mountain scenery you'll find anywhere. Summer temperatures range between 40 and 70 degrees. In winter, the temperatures are a bearable 30 degrees average. Most of Kodiak's precipitation is in the form of rain, about 60 inches annually. It's this moist, yet sunny environment which gives Kodiak its lushness of grasses and brilliant varieties of wildflowers. It also provides Kodiak with clear-running streams which attract the multitudes of spawning salmon each season.
The Kodiak Island archipelago comprises some 200 islands. The largest island in the chain is Kodiak and is followed by Afognak, Sitkalidak, Raspberry and Shuyak Island. A wilderness state park offering cabins and kayaking opportunities has been established on Afognak Island.
Besides Kodiak, the other communities of Kodiak Island are Old Harbor, Akhiok, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Port Lions, Ouzinkie, and Chiniak.
Kodiak has been inhabited for nearly 8,000 years by Natives of the Aluttiq (descendants of Pacific Eskimo). The archeological discoveries that are being made throughout the island are constantly rewriting the history books on these remarkable people.
The city of Kodiak is Alaska's oldest European settlement. Russians first landed here as early as 1763. Fur traders and hunters, seeking the pelt of the sea otter, established the first Russian colony in North America at Three Saints Bay on the south side of the island in 1784. The colony was moved to the present site of Kodiak in 1792, where it remained the capital of Russian-America until the headquarters were transferred to Sitka in 1804.
The island itself was first dubbed "Kodiak" in 1778, not by a Russian, but by Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy.
A major disaster recorded in Kodiak annals was the eruption of Novarupta in 1912. Many first accounts credited nearby Mt. Katmai with the volcanic explosion which turned Kodiak skies black and blanketed the town under nearly two feet of drifting pumice and volcanic ash. Homes were destroyed, wildlife killed and bottom fish, a staple food of the natives, disappeared.
In 1964, on Good Friday, a violent earthquake rocked a major portion of Alaska. Giant tsunamis, or tidal waves, following the quake destroyed the fishing fleet and canneries of Kodiak. The downtown area was levelled and the harbor facilities were washed away by the tidal wave.
Today, Kodiak's completely rebuilt business district epitomizes modern-day Alaska, while the every day life and atmosphere retains much of the old village charm.
Kodiak Visitor Bureau at 100 Marine Way. June 1 to mid-Sept. open Mon. to Fri., 8 to 5. Sat. & Sun. 10 to 4; mid-Sept. to May - Mon. - Fri., 8 to 5. The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, The Alaska Marine Highway office and the headquarters of the Kodiak Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, are in the same building. A knowledgeable staff will provide you with free information including brochures, walking tour maps, hiking trail maps and hunting/fishing regulations. The Kodiak Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. 100 Marine Way, Kodiak, AK 99615; 907-486-4782.
Emergencies only 911; Kodiak police 486-8000; State Troopers 486-4121; Kodiak Island Hospital 486-3281, 1915 E. Rezanof Drive.
Things To Do
Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological Repository is a modern, state-of-the-art facility, that makes it possible to conduct research and retain artifacts on Kodiak documenting some 8,000 years of Aleutiiq history. The museum features a small display gallery & host traveling exhibits. 215 Mission Road, Suite 101, Kodiak, AK 99615; 907-486-7004.
Baranov Museum houses reminders of Kodiak's rich Russian heritage as well as exhibits on Native culture and World War II history. The museum is in the Erskine House which was built circa 1793 and is the oldest Russian structure in Alaska. 101 Marine Way, Kodiak, AK 99615; 907-486-5920. Museum is open daily mid-May through mid-September, Monday-Friday 10-4, Saturday and Sunday noon to 4.
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, a two-million acre site covering the southwestern two thirds of Kodiak Island, is the habitat for numerous animals, wild birds and sea life. It is also the home of the world famous Kodiak brown bear - the largest land meat-eater in the world. Access into the refuge is by air or boat charter only. The Refuge Visitor Center 1 mile from the airport is open from 8am to 4:30pm on weekdays and noon to 4:30 on Saturdays. For information on refuge cabins, camping, fishing, hunting and photographic opportunities contact Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, 1390 Buskin River Road, Kodiak, AK 99615; 907-487-2600.
National Wildlife Refuge Center. A beautiful, sod-roofed structure halfway between the Kodiak airport and town, houses a self-guiding tour indoors and features a review of Kodiak's vast natural amenities.
Russian Orthodox Church. The oldest parish in Alaska, was established in 1794, with the first mission from Russia. Father Herman, canonized in the Kodiak church in 1970, was one of the original clerics and was the first saint of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America. The church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is open to visitors during the summer months.
Walking Tour. Map is available at the Visitor Information Center at 100 Marine Way. The tour covers over 200 years of Kodiak history and includes the Russian Church, Baranof Museum and other notable points of interest.