Cottonwood Creek is a stream on the Kenai Peninsula that flows south for about 2 miles (3.2 km) to Kachemak Bay, 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Homer, Alaska. The creek was named in 1898 by William Healey Dall of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. The alluvial fan at the creek mouth is a popular stop and camping site for hikers and kayakers.
Kachemak Bay has long been of interest to archaeologists for providing an easily accessible and relatively dry window into the rich prehistoric past of the Gulf of Alaska. In 1883, Johan Jacobsen tested a village site in Kachemak Bay and described a clear separation between two distinct historical cultures. In 1930, Frederica de Laguna began archeological research in Kachemak Bay which culminated with the publication of a monograph on Alaskan prehistory exploring the relationships over time between Alutiiq people and Tanaina Athabaskan cultures. In 1974, William and Karen Workman began a long-term project in Kachemak Bay that resulted in major excavations at Cottonwood Creek and on Chugachik and Yukon Islands.
The Workmans discovered archaeological evidence included hundreds of artifacts and several burials suggesting that the mouth of Cottonwood Creek was a village site used in the late winter and early spring when food resources were scarce and people were starving. Studies of human biology confirmed the identification of these as Alutiiq people, a culture that occupied the area for a span of at least 1500 years based on the midden remains of shellfish, harbor seals, and porpoises. These people pre-dated the arrival of the Tanaina Athabaskans to Kachemak Bay, and another culture yet to be determined preceded the Tanaina in utilizing the bay. Read more here and here. Explore more of Cottonwood Creek here: