Dutch Harbour, Unalaska, AK
Dutch Harbor, Alaska
The Aleutians are a chain of more than 300 small volcanic islands extending in an arc from the Kamchatka Peninsula towards Alaska. The islands became the stepping stones of history that attracted Russian explorers to Alaska in the 18th century. Along the treeless, windswept islands, one can see onion-domed churches mixed in with rusted Quonset huts, weed-covered bunkers and shell casings; reminders of the bitter campaigns fought here between American and Japanese forces during World War II.
Together with the city of Unalaska, Dutch Harbor, located at Unalaska Island at the end of the Aleutian chain, is a bustling community with about 4,000 residents. Dutch Harbor, the official name of the city's port, is frequently applied to the portion of Unalaska town situated on Amaknak Island. It is connected by bridge to the rest of the community on Unalaska Island.
Unalaska's economy is based on commercial fishing, fish processing, fleet services and transportation. Because of its direct location on shipping routes between the West Coast and Pacific Rim nations, Dutch Harbor is the hub for the shipment of cargo between Pacific Rim trading partners.
Among the first Christian missionaries to arrive in the Aleutian Islands was a party of Russian Orthodox monks and priests in 1793. Eventually, main settlements took place on Unalaska Island, which also was the seat of the Russian American Company's headquarters for the sea otter fur trade.
After the American purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867, new developments opened in 1883, including a Methodist mission and orphanage, and Unalaska's first public school. The U.S. Congress extended U.S. citizenship to all natives in 1924, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs built a hospital in Unalaska in 1933.
As one of America's busiest commercial fishing ports, almost 90% of Unalaska's workforce is economically dependent on the fishing industry. Cargo vessels calling at Dutch Harbor for supplies and other marine and logistical services account for additional revenue.
Please note: As a tourist destination, Dutch Harbor offers very limited infrastructure. Transportation is in short supply, and consists mainly of school buses.
The ship is scheduled to dock at the City Pier, located approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) from the city centre. Taxis generally have to be called to the port; be sure to establish the fare with the driver before leaving the pier area.
The town's galleries offer fine quality crafts that reflect Dutch Harbor's ties with the native people of the Russian Far East. Most shops are closed Sunday morning, and re-open after 1:00 p.m. The local currency is the U.S. Dollar.
A variety of restaurants feature seafood and international fare that includes Mexican, Korean and Japanese dishes. Some fast food chains are also represented.
The Henry Swanson House
On West Broadway, between Second and Third Streets, is the former home of one of the community's most popular citizens. Henry Swanson, who died in 1990, was a fox farmer, fisherman, navigator and community leader for many years. Later in life, he became a noted storyteller. His home now contains visitor information, books, maps, souvenirs, and a variety of gift items.
University of Alaska Aleutian/Pribilof Rural Centre
Unalaska is home to the largest recorded find of the fossils of desmostylid, a hippo-like mammal that lived some 8 million years ago.
The Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Ascension
This edifice, built between 1894 and 1896, has been a Unalaskan landmark for more than 100 years, and is Alaska's largest cruciform-style Russian Orthodox Church. The admission fee charged goes toward church restoration projects. The church is open for visits after 1:00 p.m.
Museum of the Aleutians
A visit to the museum will provide insight into the arguable fact that Alaska's history began in the Aleutians. From artefacts found in local archaeological digs to wartime memorabilia, exhibits showcase the area's history. The museum opens at 1:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Unalaska's Memorial Park
The park was established as a memorial to those who lost their lives during World War II, the Aleut people who suffered during internment and the Bering Sea Patrol mariners that preceded the Coast Guard.
Walking through the cemetery offers a glimpse into history as identified by the numerous markers of people from around the world who found their last resting-place here.
This viewpoint offers spectacular vistas of the surrounding area.
Jesse Lee Home
Established in the late-1800s, the home is a Methodist historical site.
Due to the limited number of suitable vehicles, private arrangements are not possible in this port.