ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog Arctic & Northern Books About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth



The History of Old Harbor, Alaska


Children meeting a floatplane at Old Harbor, Alaska in the 1950s. Old Harbor is located on the southeast coast of Kodiak Island, 70 miles southwest of the City of Kodiak and 322 miles southwest of Anchorage. It lies at approximately 57 12' N Latitude, 153 18' W Longitude (Sec. 29, T034S, R025W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Kodiak Recording District. The area encompasses 20 sq. miles of land and 6 sq. miles of water.

The area around Old Harbor is thought to have been inhabited for nearly 2,000 years. The area was visited by the Russian Grigori Shelikov and his "Three Saints" flagship in 1784. Three Saints Bay became the first Russian colony in Alaska. In 1788, a tsunami destroyed the settlement. Two more earthquakes struck before 1792. In 1793, the town relocated on the northeast coast to "Saint Paul's," now known as Kodiak. A settlement was reestablished at Three Saints Harbor in 1884. The town was recorded as "Staruigavan," meaning "old harbor" in Russian. The present-day Natives are Alutiiq (Russian-Aleuts.) The Old Harbor post office was opened in 1931. In 1964, the Good Friday earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed the community; only two homes and the church remained standing. The community has since been rebuilt in the same location.


To Community Histories Index

To the main Department of Community and Economic Development Alaska Community Database Online


History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development. Historic photo is a postcard in the collection of Murray Lundberg.