Pelican, Chichagof Island

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Pelican, Chichagof Island

by | Jan 5, 2019

Pelican is a small community located on the east side of Lisianski Inlet on Chichagof Island in Southeast Alaska. Lisianski Inlet is a deep and protected embayment that opens into Lisianski Strait and Cross Sound.

Chichagof Island, named Shee Kaax by the local Tlingit people, is the fifth-largest island in the United States and has a coastline of 742 miles (1196 km). This island is named after Admiral Vasili Chichagov, a Russian Arctic explorer, who never actually visited Alaska. The entire island lies within the Tongass National Forest and the western coastal portion is a designated wilderness area. The communities of Hoonah, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, and Elfin Cove are all located in the northern half of Chichagof Island. Chichagof Island reputedly has the highest population of bears by area of any place on Earth.

Several gold mining prospects were established in Lisianski Inlet in the early 1900s. The largest was a gold mine called the Apex, that produced 18,000 ounces (510 kg) of gold. The early miners brought Kalle (Charley) Raatikainen to the future townsite in 1938. Raatikainen was an Alaskan pioneer and fish buyer looking for a place to build a cold storage plant closer to the fishing grounds of Cross Sound. The town was named Pelican City after his fishing boat. By 1943, the town had a small hydroelectric dam, a cannery, a small sawmill, a school, and a hotel. Read more here and here. Explore more of Pelican here:

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