Neva, Kruzof Island

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Neva, Kruzof Island

by | Sep 26, 2020

In 1813, the Russian exploration ship Neva wrecked near Kruzof Island, about 93 miles (150 km) southwest of Juneau and 10 miles (16 km) west of Sitka, Alaska. The Tlingit name for this island was recorded in 1849 by Captain Tebenov of the Imperial Russian Navy, as “Tlikh” Island. In 1775, when Don Juan de la Bodega y Quadra named Mount Edgecumbe “Montana de San Jacinto”, the island became known as San Jacinto or, as La Perouse called it, Saint Hyacinthe. In 1787, Captain Nathaniel Portlock named it “Pitt Island”. The early Russian traders called it “Sitka Island”, but in 1805 Captain U.T. Lisianski named it “Crooze Island,” after a Russian admiral. In 1849, Constantin Grewingk called it “Edgecumb or Krusow Island” and “Kruzof” was adopted by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in 1906.

The island is 23 miles (37 km) long and 8.1 miles (13 km) wide with a land area of 106,880 acres (43,252 ha). The island is formed in part by Mount Edgecumbe, a small dormant stratovolcano, and several volcanic cones and collapsed cones that make up its volcanic field. Kruzof Island does not have a permanent resident population, but there are several maintained hiking trails. From the 1950s through the 1970s, forests on Kruzof Island were clear cut for timber extraction.

In January 1813, the Russian exploration ship Neva wrecked just off the island. Neva was originally a British merchant ship named the Thames launched in 1801. Russia bought the ship in 1803, renamed it Neva sailing under the Russian flag. She participated in two trips to the Far East, the first was a Russian circumnavigation of the world. The second departed in August 1812 from Okhotsk, Russia, bound for Fort Saint Archangel Mikhail, and the town of Sitka, Alaska. The ship and crew endured three months of storms, sickness, and water shortages before arriving in Prince William Sound. Despite rigging damage, the crew pushed eastward toward Sitka. In January 1813, near Kruzof Island, only a few miles from their destination, the ship hit a reef and sank. Twenty-eight members of the original crew struggling to shore with almost nothing and survived for nearly a month before rescuers arrived. Archaeologists recently discovered the site of the shipwreck and the survivors’ encampment, and are uncovering the story of how these sailors lived for a month in extremely harsh conditions. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kruzof Island here:

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