Chickaloon Bay is located on the Kenai Peninsula, about 46 miles (74 km) northeast of Kenai and 22 miles (35 km) south and across Turnagain Arm from Anchorage, Alaska. The first Europeans to explore this upper section of Cook Inlet were Russian fur traders in the early 18th century. Turnagain Arm was first named Turnagain River in 1778 by William Bligh, and renamed by Captain George Vancouver in 1794. Bligh served as the Sailing Master for Captain James Cook on his 3rd and final voyage to find the Northwest Passage and was later made famous by the HMS Bounty mutiny. The Cook expedition was the first to describe the Dena’ina Athabascans in a village to the west of Chickaloon Bay at Point Possession.
Chickaloon Bay is named for Chik’el’unt, the last Dena’ina family that lived here. The Spanish Flu of 1918 had a disastrous effect on these small Dena’ina communities where ten people from the Point Possession area were recorded as perishing from the epidemic, including five members of the Chik’el’unt family. After the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, the last inhabitants of Chickaloon Bay relocated to Eklutna, north of Anchorage on Knik Arm.
Salmon were a significant source of food for the Dena’ina, and a small community was located near the mouth of the Chickaloon River, a major salmon spawning stream that flows into Turnagain Arm at Chickaloon Bay. Cook Inlet Beluga whales were also a valuable part of the Alaska Native subsistence diet. The whales move in and out of Turnagain Arm with the rise and fall of the tides, probably due to the extreme tidal variation that creates extensive mudflats. They follow the eulachon runs in the spring and the salmon runs in the summer and fall. Read more here and here. Explore more of Chickaloon Bay and Turnagain Arm here: