Whalers Cove, Killisnoo Island


Whalers Cove, Killisnoo Island

by | Jan 18, 2019

Killisnoo is a small island in the Alexander Archipelago located just off the central west coast of Admiralty Island, about 2.5 miles (4 km) south of Angoon, Alaska.

The North West Trading Company was organized in Portland, Oregon, in 1879 by Paul Schulze, Henry Villard, and other railroad tycoons in order to do business in Alaska. It established a trading post and whaling station at Killisnoo, the site was chosen for its proximity to the fishery and the calm inside passage of Chatham Strait. Whaling, a school, and a Russian Orthodox church attracted many Tlingits from neighboring villages. In 1882, the decline of whales and market demands forced a shift in the industry. The first commercial herring fishery began at Killisnoo and a fish processing plant was built. Due to numerous factors, including a recession, rapid expansion of the company, and the uncertain nature of railway markets, the company went into receivership in 1888 and the trading station was sold to Alaska Fish Oil and Guano.

Alaska Fish Oil and Guano began rendering oil from herring and salmon for use in foods, medicine, and lubricants. The by-product was ground-up fishmeal that was sold as fertilizer. The town of Killisnoo was destroyed by fire in 1928, and although the fish plant was saved, many homes were lost and most of the Tlingit moved to Angoon. The Southeast Alaska herring fishery peaked in 1929 with a catch of 78,749 tons (71,440 mT) and there were 18 reduction plants, but petitions were submitted to Congress protesting the herring fertilizer plants. In 1940-1942, the reduction fishery was closed due to the low abundance of herring, and in 1966 the last reduction plant was closed in Southeast Alaska. The Killisnoo townsite is now a sportfishing lodge. Read more here and here. Explore more of Killisnoo here:

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