Originally inhabited by Alutiiq natives for over 7000 years, Kodiak was settled in the 1700s by Russian immigrants and became the capital of Russian Alaska. Harvesting of the area's sea otter pelts led to the near extinction of the animal in the following century and led to wars with and enslavement of the natives for over 150 years.
Kodiak was part of the Alaskan purchase by the United States in 1867, and became a commercial fishing centre. Commercial fishing and now tourism are the mainstays of the Kodiak economy.
Looking down on the town, you can see that it is quite small and has a population of only around 6000 today. We walked over the procreant bridge you can see, in order to get to the marine museum.
With the Volendam safely moored in the port area, we walked the short distance into town. First problem was that American Banks appear unable to grasp that international tourists require to change money. These cowboys in Wells Fargo Bank told us they could only change Euros into Dollars if we had an account there! It is a problem that regularly crops up in the US, one wonders whether the bankers of the US understand that there are currencies much more valuable than the dollar out there in the real world.
After Wells Fargo, we wandered on into town, and visited the town museum and the Baranov museum
Baranov Museum is a history museum, with interpretive emphasis on southwest Alaska’s Russian era (1741-1867) and early American era (1867-1912). The Museum is located within the National Historic Landmark building known as the Russian American Magazine or the Erskine House.
We then walked across the large bridge to the marine museum and back into town
The most fascinating of the buildings that we came across was the Russian Orthodox Church, which has been part of Kodiak life since the Russians ruled here. The Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church is the third to be built on this site in Kodiak. The original church, built in 1796 burned down. A church built between 1843 and 1867 was destroyed by fire in 1943. The current church was erected in 1945. A single extended church tower at the front is capped with the traditional Orthodox onion dome, painted blue. A second onion dome and supporting hexagonal tower surmount the medium gable transept roof. The church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
There appeared to have been some fairly vicious infighting in the clergy of the Orthodox Church. As far as I could gather the priest to whom I was talking in these photos was disenfranchised of his parish for a period, and later re-instated and the bishop who removed him was in turn removed. I tried to read it all up on the web, but could not really make sense of the internecine twists of the tale.
Walking on we passed the police station, and had a chat to the trooper who came out to go on patrol. The populace of Kodiak were certainly a friendly bunch.
Kodiak is an island, and mainland Alaska is off in the distance. Everything has to come by air or boat, so you would only choose to live here if you liked the isolation, and the long dark days of winter.
Commercial fishing is still part of the economy at Kodiak, and we sailed out past fishing craft unloading their catches. And headed for Homer, another frontier town in Alaska.
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