Deep Sea Salmon Cannery, Port Althorp

Deep Sea Salmon Cannery, Port Althorp

by | Jun 29, 2019

The Deep Sea Salmon Company operated a cannery in Port Althorp, an embayment on the north coast of Chichagof Island that extends southeast for 7.5 miles (12 km) from the George Islands, and 34 miles (55 km) west-northwest of Hoonah, Alaska. Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy anchored his ships here from July 10-28, 1794, and named the bay after the eldest son of Earl G.J. Spencer who was made First Lord of the Admiralty in 1794.

The salmon industry expanded rapidly just before and especially during World War I when the federal government purchased canned salmon to feed soldiers. The Deep Sea Salmon Company was one of 16 new canneries that starting operations in 1918. Port Althorp was the chosen site for its proximity to Cross Sound where migrating salmon could be readily intercepted. Rising salmon prices fueled an expansion of the cannery and during the 1920s, and the 1930s it was one of the largest facilities in Southeast Alaska. On August 4, 1940, a fire burned through most of the buildings, and the complex was not rebuilt.

In 1942, the cannery was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy for use as a Navy Auxiliary Air Station. The usable buildings consisted of a dock with dock warehouse, separate bunkhouses for white and oriental employees, a mess hall and galley, cold storage, a watchman’s house, a building adjoining the scow ways, and fuel tanks for diesel oil and fuel oil. By 1943, 110 military personnel and four aircraft were based at Port Althorp to maintain daylight patrols of convoys going to the military base at Excursion Inlet. The Navy decommissioned the facility on June 1, 1944. Read more here and here. Explore more of Port Althorp here:

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