Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

by | Jun 22, 2019

Bartlett Cove is an embayment and a small resort community about 5 miles (8 km) north of Gustavus and 50 miles (81 km) northwest of Juneau, Alaska. The bay extends north for 5 miles (8 km) from Point Gustavus, on the east shore of Glacier Bay, in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The bay was named in about 1881 by Captain W.E. George, a local marine pilot, probably for Charles C. Bartlett who owned fishing property on the bay.

Bartlett Cove is an area rich in Tlingit place names and oral history. It lies within the Wooshkeetaan clan territory and Huna Tlingit oral history tells of a large village before the Little Ice Age named L’awshaa Shakee Aan or “Town on Top of the Sand Dunes” with many houses built atop a glacial moraine as its name implies. Sometime after the ice retreated from Glacier Bay in the early 1800s, Bartlett Cove was reoccupied with a second village named Gatheeni. In 1883, the first salmon saltery was located on Lester Island on the north shore of Bartlett Cove and the village of Gatheeni likely provided the workforce. In 1888, the Bartlett Bay Packing Company began operating a cannery and in 1889 produced 4,300 cases of sockeye (red) salmon. In 1890, William, Brown & Company of San Francisco built another cannery at this location. The new company produced 12,000 cases in 1890 and 7,600 cases in 1891, but a build-up of icebergs forced its closure. In 1892, the Alaska Packing Association acquired the cannery, later to become the Alaska Packers Association in 1893, and in 1894 they dismantled and shipped the canning equipment to another facility near Haines. The cannery buildings burned down some time later and the facility was sold to Peter Buschmann of Petersburg in 1896 or 1897 who established a saltery. A severe earthquake in 1899 caused tidewater glaciers to calve an enormous number of icebergs that drifted south to the mouth of Glacier Bay and Icy Strait. The vessel White Wing, which served the saltery at Bartlett Cove, was unable to get through the ice for two weeks, while larger steamers engaged in the tourist business were prevented from entering Glacier Bay for many years afterward. Despite the new navigational obstruction posed by the icebergs, salting operations continued at Bartlett Cove in 1900. The Buschmann facility produced some 530 barrels of sockeye salmon and another 120 barrels of coho (silver) salmon. In the winter of 1900-1901, the Pacific Packing and Navigation Company bought the saltery, but the new owner idled the facility and the company went bankrupt in 1903. Later, the Northwestern Fisheries Company of Seattle acquired the facility and apparently held the property until the buildings collapsed.

Glacier Bay National Monument was established in 1925, but no personnel were assigned to the monument until 1949 when a seasonal ranger was stationed at Bartlett Cove. In 1953, the monument was managed from Bartlett Cove and an administrative office near Juneau. Starting in 1957 the facilities at Bartlett Cove were expanded with employee housing and maintenance facilities as part of the Mission 66 program that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service. The Glacier Bay Lodge was built to accommodate guests in 1966 and beginning in 1969, cruise ships became regular seasonal visitors to Bartlett Cove. Read more here and here. Explore more of Bartlett Cove here:

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