Old Karluk Village, Kodiak Island

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Old Karluk Village, Kodiak Island

by | May 4, 2021

Karluk is a small historical fishing community located at the mouth of the Karluk River on the west coast of Kodiak Island, about 88 air miles (142 km) southwest of Kodiak and 301 miles (485 km) southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. The Karluk River flows north and then northwest for 24 miles (39 km) from Karluk Lake in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to Karluk Lagoon on Shelikof Strait. The river is the largest and most productive salmon spawning system on Kodiak Island with significant runs of sockeye salmon, coho, pink, Chinook, and chum salmon, as well as steelhead and Dolly Varden trout. The name was taken from the village of Karluk and reported in 1897 by Lieutenant Commander J.F. Moser of the U.S. Navy, who commanded the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries steamer Albatross.

The mouth of the Karluk River is thought to have been inhabited by the Alutiiq people for more than 7,000 years. Russian fur hunters established a trading post here in 1786. At that time, the village was located on both sides of the Karluk River in the area of Karluk Lagoon. Karluk quickly became known for having one of the greatest salmon streams in the world, and in the 1880s and 1890s, it wasn’t rare to catch 40,000 sockeye salmon in a single beach seine.

In 1882, the Karluk Packing Company opened the first cannery on Kodiak Island on Karluk Spit. The Ascension of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church in Karluk was built in 1888. In 1890, Karluk had 1,123 residents, making it the 3rd largest community in Alaska, narrowly behind Juneau with 1,253 and Sitka with 1,190. In the early 1900s, more canneries were constructed by the Alaska Packers Association, however, in 1911 their operations were moved to Larsen Bay. Overfishing of the area forced the remaining canneries to close in the late 1930s. Read more here and here. Explore more of Karluk and Karluk Lagoon here:

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