Port Alexander is located on the
southeastern tip of Baranof Island, about five miles north of Cape
Ommaney and 85 miles south of Sitka. It provides a safe harbor during
the gales and storms that frequent Chatham Strait. It lies at
approximately 56░ 15' N Latitude, 133░ 38' W Longitude (Sec. 07, T065S,
R070E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the
Petersburg Recording District. The area encompasses 3 sq. miles of land
and 12 sq. miles of water.
In 1795, the British explorer Capt.
George Vancouver, recorded his entry into the cove which is now called
Port Alexander. He was looking for Natives to trade with, but found only
a deserted village. The site was named in 1849 by Capt. M.D. Tebenkov,
Governor of the Russian American colonies.
1913, salmon trollers discovered the rich fishing grounds of the South
Chatham Strait area, and fishermen began using the area as their
seasonal base. Two floating processors arrived soon after. By 1916,
there was a fishing supply store, a shore station owned by Northland
Trading and Packing Company, and a bakery at Port Alexander. Families of
fishermen began coming to the community during the summers, and many of
the first arrivals lived in tents. Karl Hansen, a Norwegian immigrant,
operated a fish-buying station, the Pacific Mild Cure Company. He also
sold supplies and fuel, and installed a wireless station. During the
1920s and 1930s, a year-round community had evolved around the
prosperous fishing fleet, and houses, stores, restaurants, a post office
and a school were constructed. The summer population would swell to over
1,000 people. A soda fountain, butcher shop, dairy, dance hall and hotel
were built. Beginning in 1938 fish stocks declined dramatically, and
processing became uneconomical. The outbreak of World War II essentially
collapsed the town's economy; Karl Hansen left Port Alexander in the
late 1940s, after 20 prosperous years and 10 years of struggle,
bankrupted. By 1950, 22 residents lived in the town year-round.