The History of
Bristol Bay Borough

Approximately 500 square miles in area, the Bristol Bay Borough is located in Southwest Alaska, at the upper eastern end of Bristol Bay. The Katmai National Park is adjacent to the Borough. It lies at approximately 58 43' N Latitude, 157 00' W Longitude . The community is located in the Kvichak Recording District. The area encompasses 519 sq. miles of land and 398 sq. miles of water.

The region was first settled by Athabascan Indians, Central Yup'ik Eskimos and Sugpiaq (Aleut-Russian) Eskimos. Hunting and fishing camps along the Naknek River date from 3,000 to 4,000 B.C. In 1818, the first Russian traders arrived. Two years later, the first Russian settlement was established, and in 1841, the Russian Orthodox Mission was built at Nushagak. The Russians explored and maintained dominance of the area until the U.S. purchase of Alaska in 1867. U.S. interests were directed primarily at the fur and fishery potential of the region. In 1883, the first salmon cannery in Bristol Bay was opened. In 1890, the first cannery on the Naknek River was opened. Commercial salmon remain the region's primary industry. During World War II, King Salmon Air Force Base was developed. The Bristol Bay Borough was incorporated as the state's first borough in 1962.


To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online


History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development