Point Spencer, Port Clarence

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Point Spencer, Port Clarence

by | Oct 30, 2019

Point Spencer is the north end of a spit about 19 miles (31 km) long, between the Bering Sea and Port Clarence, on the Seward Peninsula, about 14 miles (23 km) west of Teller, Alaska. The point was named in 1827 by Frederick William Beechey for Captain Robert Spencer who at the time was a highly decorated officer of the Royal Navy.

Point Spencer has been used for thousands of years by the Iñupiat and their ancestors as a major trading hub between indigenous groups in present-day Alaska and eastern Eurasia. Beginning in the early 1800s, Port Clarence served as a safe harbor for American whaling vessels and is still one of the few sheltered anchorages in the Bering Sea. In 1850-1852, vessels searching for the lost Franklin expedition over-wintered in Port Clarence. From 1865-1867, the harbor was used to support the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, an uncompleted project to link North America with Russia across the Bering Strait. Port Clarence continued to serve as a major harbor for the Revenue Cutter Service, a precursor to the U.S Coast Guard, until the early 20th century.

In 1941, the U.S. Army constructed an airbase at Point Spencer to provide support for military activities in the Pacific during World War II. Toward the end of the war, the Army expanded the runways for use as a bomber field. In 1955, the Army departed and abandoned the airbase, but in 1962, the U.S. Coast Guard constructed a Long Range Navigation facility at Point Spencer that included a paved runway 4,500 feet (1,372 m) long, and a radio tower 1,350 feet (412 m) tall. It was the tallest structure in Alaska until its demolition in 2010 when the program was discontinued. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Spencer here:

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