Alaska: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in Alaska.

Attu Battlefield

Location: Aleutian Islands

Relevant issues: Aviation history, military history, World War II

Statement of significance: Attu was the site of the only World War II battle fought in North America. Its occupation by Japanese troops marked the peak of Japan’s military expansion in the North Pacific. Its recapture by Americans in 1943 was costly for both sides. Afterward, Attu provided a base for bombing missions against Japanese territories.

Birnirk Site

Location: Barrow, North Slope County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Composed of a group of sixteen mounds arranged in rows roughly parallel to the beach, this site is associated with the Birnirk and Thule cultures, both belonging to the North Alaskan branch of the Northern Maritime tradition, the earliest manifestation of the Inuit (Eskimo) culture in North Alaska.

Brooks River Archaeological District

Location: Naknek, Bristol Bay

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: The district is located along the series of ancient beach ridges and river terraces associated with the 2.5 mile-long Brooks River. The twenty well-preserved sites which make up the district date from 2500 b.c.e. to historic times. The district has yielded and is expected to continue to yield data of major scientific importance; included in the district is the single area of greatest concentration of Arctic Small Tool Tradition artifacts known in Alaska and possibly in North America. It is estimated that over 90 percent of all the archaeological properties remain intact.

Cape Field at Fort Glenn

Location: Fort Glenn, Aleutian Islands

Relevant issues: Military history, World War II

Statement of significance: Fort Glenn was the first Alaska project commissioned after the outbreak of war with Japan in 1941. Secretly built under the guise of a fish-processing plant, Fort Glenn provided aerial defensive cover for the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears at Dutch Harbor in Unalaska Bay. During the Japanese bombing raid on Dutch Harbor on June 3-4, 1942, fighter pilots stationed at Fort Glenn led the counterattack. Fort Glenn served as the initial forward base to launch bombing attacks on Japanese installations at Attu and Kiska. Downgraded to caretaking status in 1945, and finally decommissioned in 1950, Fort Glenn is the most comprehensive and intact World War II base in the Aleutian Islands.

Cape Krusenstern Archaeological District

Location: Kotzebue, Northwest Arctic

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: A series of 114 marine beach ridges, formed at an average of perhaps sixty years each since the time of the highest postglacial sea level, the district contains the remains of peoples who have inhabited these beaches for five thousand or more years. Adjacent to the ridges on unglaciated uplands in the Iguchuk Hills are surface deposits that extend the record backward to the time of the end of the Pleistocene. Cape Krusenstern beach ridges place in a broad, horizontal stratigraphy virtually all phases of cultural history known in northwest Alaska and have made possible the identification of several new phases previously unknown.

Chaluka Site

Location: Nikolski, Aleutian Islands

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This site contains a large stratified village mound appearing to represent all the periods of culture identified in the Aleutians. The site has contributed significant data on the origins and evolution of the Aleut people and culture.

Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, U.S. Army

Location: Unalaska, Aleutian Islands

Relevant issues: Military history, World War II

Statement of significance: This complex was the farthest west of the Navy’s Alaska bases when the Japanese attacked the Aleutians in 1942. It was bombed for two days in the most serious air attack on North American territory during World War II. These bases were an important part of coastal defenses throughout the war.

Eagle Historic District

Location: Eagle, Southeast Fairbanks County

Relevant issues: Western expansion

Statement of significance: Eagle was a military, judicial, transportation, and communications hub for interior Alaska at the end of the nineteenth century. Fort Egbert was established here as a control station and headquarters for northern Alaska in 1889. In 1905, Roald Amundsen trekked to Eagle to announce to the world the completion of the first successful Northwest Passage. More than one hundred buildings from the historic era remain, including the federal courthouse and structures of Fort Egbert.

Fort William H. Seward

Location: Haines, Haines County

Relevant issues: Military history, western expansion

Statement of significance: Established by executive order on December 31, 1898, and first known as Hanies Mission, Fort Seward was the last of eleven military posts established in Alaska during the territory’s gold rushes between 1897 and 1904. Founded for the purpose of preserving law and order among the gold seekers, the fort also provided a U.S. military presence in Alaska during boundary disputes with Canada. The only active military post in Alaska between 1925 and 1940, the fort was closed at the end of World War II.

Kennecott Mines

Location: Kennecott, Valdez-Cordova County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: A vestige of an early twentieth century copper mining camp, Kennecott represents the mining techniques of the era. The mines here were among the nation’s largest and contained the last of the great high-grade copper ore deposits of the American West. The world’s first ammonia-leaching plant for extracting concentrations of ore from low-grade ores was designed and first successfully used on a commercial scale here. The camp is little changed since its 1938 closing.

Kodiak Naval Operating Base and Forts Greely and Abercrombie

Location: Kodiak, Kodiak Island

Relevant issues: Military history, World War II

Statement of significance: A joint operations center here directed Alaskan operations in 1942-1943. It was the principal advance naval base in Alaska and the North Pacific when World War II broke out. Kodiak’s ships and submarines played a critical role in the Aleutian campaign. Fort Greely, with its coast artillery and infantry troops, stood ready to repel an invader, but in the end the enemy did not come. In April, 1943, the Army erected a permanent eight-inch gun battery north of Kodiak and established it as a subpost of Fort Greely, naming it Fort Abercrombie.

Onion Portage Archaeological District

Location: Kiana, Northwest Arctic

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: For thousands of years, vast numbers of caribou have passed through this area on their seasonal migrations between tundra and taiga; drawn by these herds, hunters both ancient and modern have stationed themselves at the vantage point afforded by the site’s location to await their coming. Nine cultural complexes, ranging from Paleo-Indians of the Akmak Complex (c. 8000-6500 b.c.e.) to the Arctic Woodland Eskimo (c. 1000-1700 c.e.) have existed in this area, which includes Onion Portage site proper, a deeply stratified river-edge site, and a series of smaller sites representing individual settlements of each of the cultures isolated.

Wales Site

Location: Wales, Nome County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Located on Cape Prince of Wales, this site contains material that spans the period from the Birnirk culture, the earliest recognizable manifestation of modern Inuit (Eskimo) culture in Alaska (500-900 c.e.), to the present Inuit inhabitants of the modern settlement of Wales, or Kinigin. Wales Site includes mounds, a midden, a present-day Native Alaskan community, and the first spot in Alaska where archaeologists found evidence of Thule culture.

Yukon Island Main Site

Location: Yukon Island, Kenai Peninsula

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This is the oldest and most continuously occupied archaeological site on Cook Inlet. Excavation here helped define the Kachemak Bay Culture, which is related to that of the Salish Indians to the south and to that of the Kamchatkans and Ainu of Asia.

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