The History of Kasaan

Kasaan is situated on the east side of Prince of Wales Island on Kasaan Bay, 30 miles northwest of Ketchikan. It lies at approximately 55 32' N Latitude, 132 23' W Longitude (Sec. 18, T073S, R086E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Ketchikan Recording District. The area encompasses 5 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

Originally Tlingit territory, Kasaan gets its name from the Tlingit word meaning "pretty town." Haidas migrated north from the Queen Charlotte Islands in the early 1700s to the Island and established the village now known as "Old Kasaan," 7 miles south on Skowl Arm. In 1892 the Copper Queen mine, camp, sawmill, post office and store were built on Kasaan Bay, and the Haida people relocated to this new village.

In 1902 the first salmon cannery was constructed in Kasaan. The cannery burned in 1907, 1910 and again in 1911, but was rebuilt each season. The cannery operated sporadically until 1953. During this time, Kasaan had a school, three stores, a Presbyterian Church and other businesses. Chief Sonihat built the Whale House, a traditional long house which became the focus of the new Kasaan Totem Park, established during the 1930s. Many of the totems left from the old village site were moved to the park in 1938. Kavilco, Inc., the local village corporation, purchased the old cannery buildings and property in 1974, and in 1980 removed the cannery buildings. Remnants of the historical Karta River village and petroglyphs lie north of the city, and the Old Tom Creek village and fort lie south of the city.

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