Excursion Inlet, Icy Strait

Excursion Inlet, Icy Strait

by | Feb 7, 2023

Excursion Inlet is an embayment that extends 11 miles (18 km) north-northwest from the northern coast of Icy Strait to the mouth of Excursion River, about 38 miles (61 km) west-northwest of Juneau and 9.5 miles (15 km) east of Gustavus, Alaska. The bay was likely named by Captain W.E. George, who entered the estuary in 1883 on the excursion steamer SS Idaho. Captain George was a local ship pilot employed by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company who made some of the first charts of this area and named many geographical features. The nearby George Islands were named after him by William H. Dall. Excursion Inlet was originally the site of a Tlingit village on an alluvial fan created by North Creek and South Creek near the mouth of the inlet on the eastern shore. Since 1891, a fish cannery has occupied this site.

The Excursion Inlet cannery is currently operated by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, was constructed in 1918, and is one of the largest and most successful canneries in Alaska. It mostly processes pink and chum salmon, as well as salmon roe, Pacific halibut, and sablefish, also known as black cod. Of the seven canneries established over the years in the Icy Strait district, only Excursion Inlet remains. It has persisted for a century, through the Great Depression, good salmon runs and poor ones, the proliferation of salmon traps, and other huge changes in the structure of Alaska’s salmon fishing industry, including two world wars.

During the early stages of American involvement in World War II, the U.S. Army built a major barge terminal at Excursion Inlet. It was capable of handling large ocean-going cargo ships and was intended to be manned by thousands of soldiers. The terminal was built to serve as a logistics base for the Army’s efforts to liberate the Aleutian Islands. However, by the time the terminal was completed in late 1943, the Aleutian Campaign was effectively over and the Army opted to quietly shut it down. German prisoners of war were later brought in to dismantle the base and salvage usable materials. The docks and some of the buildings were sold to the cannery and remain standing today. The only access is by boat and small plane. Read more here and here. Explore more of Excursion Inlet here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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