Thorne Bay, Prince of Wales Island

Thorne Bay, Prince of Wales Island

by | Feb 9, 2019

Thorne Bay is a small community on the east coast of Prince of Wales Island, 12 miles (19 km) north-northwest of Kasaan, Alaska. The name is taken from the bay that geographically divides the community so that the main townsite (North Thorne Bay), with most administrative services, is located on the north side of the bay. Residential, commercial, and industrial subdivisions are located on the south side of the bay.

The estuary of Thorne Bay extends 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northwest off Clarence Strait, on the east coast of Prince of Wales Island. The bay was named in 1891 for Frank Manley Thorn, who was the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1885 to 1889. The name of the bay was misspelled when published in the original record, and the spelling was never corrected to match the spelling of Thorn’s last name.

The community of Thorne Bay originally began as a large floating logging camp for the Ketchikan Pulp Company in 1960 that was moved from Hollis, Alaska. In the 1960s and 1970s, Thorne Bay was the largest logging camp in North America and was home to over 1500 residents at its peak. Today, the economy is slowly shifting from the old logging camp days to a more balanced economy. The largest employers are the U.S. Forest Service, Southeast Island School District, and the City of Thorne Bay. A barge landing handles most of the island freight, and two scheduled floatplane services provide daily passenger and mail service to Ketchikan and other island communities. The Inter-Island Ferry provides service from Hollis to Ketchikan. Read more here and here. Explore more of Thorne Bay here:

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