Twin Hills, Togiak Bay

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Twin Hills, Togiak Bay

by | Apr 4, 2020

Twin Hills is a Yup’ik village at the head of Togiak Bay, about 130 miles (210 km) southeast of Bethel and 64 miles (103 km) west of Dillingham, Alaska. The village was established in 1965 by families who moved from the community of Togiak to avoid recurring floods. In 1880, Ivan Petrof recorded two villages at the head of Togiak Bay, “Togiagamute” and “Togiak Station”, both located at the mouth of the Togiak River, about 7 miles (11 km) apart. Togiak Station has also been called “Owens”, named for Johnny Owens, a local trader and prospector who operated this important trading post. The settlement of Togiagamute was abandoned when most of the residents moved to the “new” Togiak on the opposite side of Togiak Bay.

Extremely high tidal surges caused by intensive storms in the Bering Sea can flood low lying wetlands with up to 12 feet (3.6 m) of water in shallow embayments like Togiak Bay. In the 1980s, a severe storm accompanied by high winds and coastal flooding drove a World War II-era Navy ship far up the Twin Hills River. When the waters receded the ship became grounded in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and was abandoned.

The ship was originally built for the U.S. Navy in 1945 by Commercial Iron Works in Portland Oregon as LSSL-108 and used in the Pacific theater to support amphibious landings. The vessel has a flat bottom and skegs on either side of twin propellers that allowed the ships to safely beach. At the end of the war, surviving ships returned to the United States and some were restored to action for the Korean War. In 1952, LSSL-108 was transferred to the Republic of Korea Navy and renamed Kang Hwa Man. In the 1970s, the ship was purchased and brought to Seattle, converted to a fishing vessel named Gull, and then bought by Togiak Fisheries and used as a freezer ship in the 1980s. Read more here and here. Explore more of Togiak Bay here:

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