Strogonof Point, Port Heiden

Strogonof Point, Port Heiden

by | Mar 2, 2023

Port Heiden is an embayment on the northern coast of the Alaska Peninsula that extends 9 miles (15 km) southeast from Bristol Bay between Strogonof Point and the community of Port Heiden, to the mouth of the Meshik River, about 147 miles (237 km) south of Dillingham and 45 miles (72 km) north-northwest of Chignik, Alaska. The bay was named ‘Baie Comte Heyden’ in 1828 by Captain Friedrich B. von Lütke of the Imperial Russian Navy for Lodewijk van Heiden, a Dutch admiral who was given command of the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean during the Battle of Navarino against the Turks during the Greek War of Independence in 1826. Strogonof Point is a barrier spit about 7 miles (11 km) long that partially encloses the bay from the west and was reputedly named after the Russian salt merchant Anika Stroganov. The Meshik River starts on the southern flank of Mount Aniakchak and flows generally northwest for 31 miles (50 km) to the southern shore of Port Heiden, draining a watershed of 237,605 acres (96,155 ha) comprising volcanic rocks and sediments. The river is an important spawning habitat for Chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon, as well as char.

Meshik is a traditional Unangan Aleut village situated at the entrance to Port Heiden on Goldfish Lake about 4 miles (6.5 km) south-southwest of a World War II era airfield and the modern-day broadly distributed community of Port Heiden. The old village site was ideally situated near food resources, principally salmon streams on the peninsula and marine mammals in Bristol Bay. The archaeological record suggests that the region was first occupied 5,100 years ago, but then was vacated, possibly due to the devastating impact of the caldera-forming eruption of Mount Veniaminof, estimated to have occurred between about 4100-3900 years ago. The global influenza pandemic in the early 20th century caused the village to be abandoned. The village was reoccupied after World War II when a new school was built. In 1976, several buildings in the village were damaged by a storm in Bristol Bay that caused flooding, and since 1981, many buildings have been moved inland in response to coastal erosion.

During World War II, the U.S. Army established a garrison of 1,400 soldiers at Port Heiden with the mission of developing and holding an airbase strategically located between the Kodiak and Cold Bay airfields. Fort Morrow Air Force Station was built near Meshik, and in 1942, gun emplacements, foxholes, slit trenches, and barbed-wire entanglements lined the local beaches. The airfield had two runways, air navigation support, and facilities that could support as many as 5,000 men. Approximately 450 structures were erected over several square miles. The new airfield did not have any permanently assigned units during the war, but hosted temporary army and navy air units during the Aleutian Campaign. The facility was closed on 7 October 1945 and returned to civilian status. Beginning in 1955, the airport was used to support a White Alice Communications System, and in 1959, a Cold War Distant Early Warning Line radar facility was built that operated until 1969 when it was converted to a radio relay site. The radio relay station was abandoned in November 1979. In 2000, the site was remediated by removing all abandoned military structures and returning the area to a natural condition. Read more here and here. Explore more of Strogonof Point and Port Heiden here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (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.

Please report any errors here

error: Content is protected !!