During our fishing excursions, we get to see some of the beautiful towns along the Alaskan coastline. Most of these cities have great things to explore, but I don’t always have a chance to stop and admire the cities. This month, I spent some time in my home, Sitka, Alaska and I decided that while I was there, I should explore some of the wonders of this town I call home.
In spite of its modest population of about 9,000 people, it is the largest city-borough in the United States, in terms of land area. This land is made up of beautiful coastlines, mountains and valleys, and a great town. One of the reasons Sitka is so interesting to me is that it was settled by three different people groups at different times in history, and the heritage of each group of settlers has helped to make the town so unique. Plus, Sitka was where the United States formally purchased Alaska from Russia. Sitka was first settled by the Tlingit people tens of thousands of years ago. In more recent history, 1799 to be exact, Russians settled it, and named it New Arkhangelsk (“New Archangel”) after a city in Russia, and the Archangel Michael. When the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 (for only $7.2 million!) the city took on its current identity. Sitka even served as the capital of the Alaskan Territory until 1906, and every October 18, it is home to the Alaskan Day festival that commemorates the Alaskan purchase.
Because of the rich history or Sitka, it has some very diverse architecture. My favorite building in town is Saint Michael’s Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox cathedral. Even though the original cathedral burned down in the 1960s, it was rebuilt in the Russian style as a nod to its heritage.
Walking along the streets of Sitka, I encountered a statue tribute to another part of Alaska’s rich history: gold. Gold was discovered in Sitka around the same time it was discovered in California, and it was this gold, along with fish canning, that helped the town establish Sitka as a thriving town. The statue, a prospector, captured the essence of adventure and the excitement about the potential for success.
After a long day of walking the streets of Sitka and the exploring the trails of Sitka National Historical Park, I settled in for dinner and drinks at a pub with a view out over Crescent Bay. In the distance, beyond the boats, I could see several tiny islands that make up the Alexander Archipelago.
I love the fishing off of Sitka, and sharing the catch with you, I always treasure the opportunities I get to take advantage of the mild summer weather and take in Alaska’s beauty. I’ll give you an update on Sitka after this year’s Alaskan Day Festival.
Until the next adventure,