Symonds Bay, Biorka Island

Symonds Bay, Biorka Island

by | Jan 7, 2019

Symonds Bay is about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide and provides a landing on the north coast of Biorka Island, Alaska. The bay has one of the few white sand beaches in Southeast Alaska, as well as a government wharf managed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The bay was named by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey for Lieutenant Frederick Martin Symonds, of the U.S. Navy, who surveyed the bay in 1879 with Master G.C. Hanus.

Biorka Island is about 2.5 miles (4 km) across and located 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Sitka in the Necker Islands off the west coast of Baranof Island in the Alexander Archipelago. The island was named in 1809 by the Russian navigator Ivan Vasiliev of the Imperial Russian Navy. The original name in the Tlingit language for the island is Watsíxh.

Fort Pierce was a defense installation that occupied 462 acres (187 ha) on Biorka Island. The U.S. Navy installed a wireless telegraph station on the island in 1909. During World War II the U.S. Army acquired the property and began construction of a coastal defense battery that included two 6-inch gun emplacements and support facilities. However, construction was abandoned in 1944 and the guns were never installed, but other structures were completed, including a concrete command bunker, concrete vaults for fuel storage, 16 Quonset huts, a mess hall, infirmary, power facility, and a radar installation. The U.S. Coast Guard operated a LORAN Station here from 1952 to 1980. Today, the National Weather Service operates a Doppler Radar and the Federal Aviation Administration maintains a navigation facility. A wharf and landing in Symonds Bay serve these operations. Read more here and here. Explore more of Symonds Bay and Biorka Island here:

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