Alitak is a historical salmon cannery and fish processing plant located on Lazy Bay at the southern end of Kodiak Island, about 152 miles (245 km) southeast of King Salmon and 92 miles (148 km) southwest of Kodiak, Alaska. The cannery is named after Cape Alitak, a point of land on Tanner Head at the southwest tip of Kodiak Island. The Alutiiq name was first published as Cape Alitok in 1826 by Lieutenant Gavril Sarychev of the Imperial Russian Navy. Lazy Bay is a cove on the western shore of Alitak Bay that was first reported in 1900 by Commander J.F. Moser of the U.S. Navy on the U.S. Fish Commission steamer Albatross.
In 2017, the old cannery celebrated its 100th year of operation in one of the world’s most remote areas. In 1917, the Alitak Packing Company was established, encroaching on what had previously been Alaska Packers Association fishing territory. In 1928, Pacific American Fisheries purchased the Alitak facility, adding crab processing in 1959. In January of 1964, a fire at the plant led to one fatality and the destruction of 15 company purse seiners that were stored on the marine ways during the winter. That same year the plant was sold to Columbia-Ward Fisheries. Today it is owned by Ocean Beauty Seafoods and processes salmon, halibut, black cod, herring roe, canned salmon, and salmon roe.
The salmon season typically runs from late June to the beginning of September. Cannery workers usually fly to Anchorage, then Kodiak, then Akhiok where a small boat ferries them to Lazy Bay. Work consists of extremely repetitive motion for up to 16 hours a day. Bunkhouses provide accommodations for the workers and a mess hall provides food. There are 3 coffee breaks called “Mug ups” throughout the day at 9 am, 3 pm, and 9 pm. A former superintendent Woody Knebel started a museum in the Mug Up room that displays artifacts of cannery life over the last 100 years. He also wrote a book about the nearby Cape Alitak petroglyphs. For thousands of years, Alutiiq people lived here in sod houses and hunted sea mammals. The Cape Alitak petroglyphs are one of the few written records of their way of life. Pecked into Kodiak’s granite bedrock, images of people and animals preserve customs from the Alutiiq past. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Alitak Cannery and Lazy Bay here: