Port Graham, Kachemak Bay

Port Graham, Kachemak Bay

by | Jul 15, 2019

Port Graham is a community, and an embayment about 6 miles (10 km) long and .75 miles (1.2 km) wide, on the southwest coast of the Kenai Peninsula, about 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Seldovia, Alaska. The bay was named “Grahams Harbour” by Captain Nathaniel Portlock in 1786. Captain John Meares named it Cool Bay in 1788. The Russians called this bay “Bukhta Anglitskaya” or “English Bay” because of the English mapping and exploration in the late 18th century, and today this name is used on charts for the small bay where Nanwalek is located. Port Graham and Nanwalek are separated by less than 5 miles (8 km), and although there are local roads, there is no road access into this area. All vehicles must be brought in by barge or ferry. Both villages are accessible by air or water, and the Alaska Marine Highway System provides ferry service from Homer.

The people of Port Graham are descended from the historical inhabitants of the outer Kenai Peninsula. Prior to and during the Russian fur trade in the late 1700s, hundreds of people lived as maritime hunters and gatherers in villages at Nuka Bay, Yalik Bay, and Aialik Bay. They are Sugpiaq, part of the Alutiiq Peoples, that once inhabited an area that today includes Kodiak Island, the Alaska Peninsula, Cook Inlet, and Prince William Sound. The Russians coerced the Natives to hunt sea otters for the burgeoning fur trade, and eventually, all the people were relocated to Alexandrovsk (now Nanwalek) or Paluwik (now Port Graham) by the Russian missionaries during the late 1800s.

In 1909, Port Graham had a cannery and wharf that today is the site of a salmon hatchery owned and operated by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. This hatchery was originally built in 1991 and then rebuilt in 1998 after a fire. The hatchery closed in 2007 and was reopened in 2014 after a major renovation to modernize and make the hatchery more efficient. Read more here and here. Explore more of Port Graham here:

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