Islands of the Alaska Inside Passage
Baranof Island, also sometimes called Baranov Island or Sitka Island, is part of the northern Alexander Archipelago of islands lying west of the Alaska Panhandle Alaska. Baranof is one of the three “ABC” (Admiralty, Baranof, Chichagof) islands of Alaska renown for their protected wilderness and wildlife including a type of brown bear which is closely related to polar bears and Sitka deer.
Baranof Island is one of the largest islands in the United States at over 1600 square miles (100 miles long and 30 miles wide). With a population of approximately 8,500 residents, there is minimal industry on the island with the City and Borough of Sitka being the center of Baranof Island’s commerce consisting of fishing, seafood processing, and tourism. The towns of Baranof Warm Springs, Port Armstrong, and Port Walter are located on the eastern side of the island. Baranof hosts three year-round salmon hatcheries, one located just north of Port Alexander at Port Armstrong, another located just north of Baranof Warm Springs at Hidden Falls, the other just south of Sitka near Medvejie Lake. are important industries on the island, which is also famous for brown bears and Sitka deer.
Baranof Island’s first settlers arrived in 1799 and included Alexandr Baranov, Chief Manager and first Governor of the Russian-American Company, for whom the Island and Archipelago are named. The Island became the headquarters for Russian fur-trading during the nineteenth century, later expanding into mining, whaling, canneries and fox farming in the twentieth century.
Admiralty Island at 90 miles long and 35 miles wide is the seventh largest island in the United States. Known to the Alaskan Native Indian tribe of the Tlingit as “Xootsnoowú” (also referred to as the Kootznoowoo Wilderness) or "Fortress of the Bears", Admiralty Island is home to the highest density of brown bears (approximately 1,600) in North America – outnumbering Admiralty's human residents nearly three to one. Angoon, a traditional Tlingit community is the only community located on the island which contains just over 600 year round residents.
The majority of the land mass of Admiralty Island is part of Admiralty Island National Monument – a federally protected Wilderness Area which also includes the Greens Creek Mine (gold, silver, zinc and lead). This area is unique in Southeast Alaska because of it’s large stands of old growth temperate rainforest which provide a haven and excellent habitat for its populations of brown bears, bald eagles, and Sitka black-tailed deer.
Named after Admiral Vasili Chichagov, a Russian Arctic explorer, Chichagof Island is 75 miles long and 50 miles at over 2,000 square miles is the fifth largest island in the United States and the 109th largest island in the world. Lying to the north of Baranof Island, the Chicagof Island is surrounded by Chatham Strait to the east, Icy Strait to the northeast, Cross Sound to the northwest, the Gulf of Alaska to the west and Peril Strait to the south.
With a population of over 1,300, Chicagof Island hosts the Alaskan communities of Hoonah, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, and Elfin Cove, all lying in the northern reaches of the island. The main commerce on Chicagof is centered around a water-based local economy consisting of guided hunting trips, fishing, and logging.
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