Port Wakefield, Raspberry Island

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Port Wakefield, Raspberry Island

by | Nov 13, 2020

Port Wakefield is an abandoned cannery on the east coast of Raspberry Island, about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Kodiak and 14 miles (23 km) north-northwest of Port Lions, Alaska. The facility was named for Lowell Alvin Wakefield who is regarded as the founder of the Alaskan king crab industry, and who established Port Wakefield shortly after World War II. 

The site was originally a herring reduction and saltery plant first reported in 1952 by the U.S. Geological Survey. Wakefield relocated his father’s salmon cannery business, Apex Fish Company, from Anacortes, Washington to Raspberry Island and renamed it Wakefield Fisheries. The new facility included the cannery buildings, cedar log houses, and a church for the workers. Wakefield introduced the canning of king crab, partly because of declining salmon stocks in surrounding waters. By 1955, the cannery was producing 85 percent of the total king crab catch for the United States. Wakefield later discovered that freezing was a better way to preserve the flavor of king crab meat. 

The facility on Raspberry Island was partially destroyed by the March 1964 earthquake, and in the summer of 1966 all salvageable buildings were moved to Port Lions and the original site was abandoned. A film was made in 1965 of the king crab fishery and at about 14:52 minutes there are pictures of the cannery buildings at Port Wakefield. Read more here and here. Explore more of Port Wakefield here:

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