Old Sitka, Starrigavan Bay

Old Sitka, Starrigavan Bay

by | Mar 23, 2019

Old Sitka was the first permanent Russian settlement on the northwest coast of Baranof Island, on Starrigavan Bay, about 7 miles (11 km) north of Sitka, Alaska. The Redoubt Saint Archangel Michael Site, also known as the Old Sitka Site, is now a State Historic Park and a National Historic Landmark.

Old Sitka was the first non-Native settlement on Baranof Island. The settlement was established in 1799 by Alexander Andreyevich Baranov who negotiated with the local Tlingit people for a site on which the company could establish a trading post. Although he would have preferred what is now called Castle Hill in Sitka, he was granted this site on Starrigavan Bay. The company established several log buildings including a large warehouse, blacksmith shop, cattle sheds, barracks, stockade, blockhouse, a bathhouse, quarters for the hunters, and a residence for Baranov all surrounded by a palisade. The fort was destroyed in June 1802 by Tlingits armed with guns and ammunition obtained from American and British trading ships.

The Russians returned in 1804 to retake control of Sitka Sound from the Tlingit who had built their own defensive fortification at the mouth of the Indian River several miles to the south. The Battle of Sitka ended with a decisive Russians victory over the Tlingit but they never rebuilt at Old Sitka. Instead, a new fort called New Archangel was built on Castle Hill at the present location of Sitka. The old fort became known to the Russians as “Starri-gavan” meaning “old harbor”. The site was excavated in 1934-35, and archaeologists recovered numerous artifacts and identified the locations of the Russian buildings. In the years that followed the site was partially compromised by erosion and construction activity. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962. The state built a wayside stop at the site in 1966, and now operates it has a state park. Read more here and here. Explore more of Old Sitka here:

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