Port Vita, Raspberry Strait

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Port Vita, Raspberry Strait

by | Nov 27, 2020

Port Vita is an abandoned herring reduction plant and saltery located on Raspberry Strait, on the northeastern coast of Raspberry Island, about 31 miles (50 km) northwest of Kodiak and 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Port Lions, Alaska. Raspberry Island is 18 miles (29 km) long with a width that varies from 3 miles (4.8 km) to 8 miles (12.9 km), and the highest elevation is 3,300 ft (1,006 m). The island is part of the Kodiak Archipelago, with Shelikof Strait to the west, and separated from Kodiak Island by Kupreanof Strait to the south.

The archipelago was originally inhabited by Aleut people for over 7,000 years. Russian fur traders took control of the islands in the 18th century and exploited the Aleut to hunt sea otters to near extinction. Following the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867, prospectors found deposits of placer gold on Raspberry Island beaches, however, only limited beach mining occurred and the last recorded mining activity was in 1935. Today, much of the island is owned by the First Native Corporation and is uninhabited except for the two wilderness lodges that exist on land previously owned by canneries at Port Wakefield and Iron Creek.

In 1951, there were three herring reduction plants on Raspberry Island called Port Wakefield, Port Vita and Iron Creek. Herring are small fish that travel in large schools and were once abundant in the Gulf of Alaska. The herring were not used directly for human food, but were “reduced” into oil and meal used for animal food and fertilizer. Iron Creek was the smallest herring plant, having no fishing boats of its own but relying on independent boats for its fish supply. Read more here and here. Explore more of Port Vita here:

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