The History of Saxman

Saxman is located on the west side of Revillagigedo Island, 3 miles south of Ketchikan on the South Tongass Highway. It lies at approximately 55 19' N Latitude, 131 35' W Longitude (Sec. 33, T075S, R091E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Ketchikan Recording District. The area encompasses 1 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

In 1886, Tlingits from the old villages of Tongass and Cape Fox wanted a new site to construct a central BIA school and Presbyterian Church. The village subsequently was named for Samuel Saxman, a Presbyterian teacher who was lost at sea with a Cape Fox elder while searching for the new site. By 1894, the new village site was chosen, ideally located on a protected harbor off the Tongass Narrows. A small sawmill was built and construction of the school and houses began immediately. Fishing and cutting lumber for the growing towns of Saxman and Ketchikan were the economic mainstays of the new village. By 1900, 142 people were living in Saxman. In 1929, the community incorporated as a City. During the 1930s, many totem poles and ceremonial artifacts, such as carvings and masks, were retrieved by the Civilian Conservation Corps from the abandoned villages at Cape Fox, Tongass, Cat Island and Pennock Island. Totem poles were restored and relocated to Saxman as part of a U.S. Forest Service program. A rail-barge terminal at the Saxman Seaport was completed in 1967; it serves as the Ketchikan's major cargo container terminal.


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