Excursion Inlet, Icy Strait

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Excursion Inlet is a bay that trends 8 miles (13 km) south from the mouth of Excursion River to Icy Strait, about 38 miles (61 km) west of Juneau, Alaska. The bay was named by Captain E.G. George, who entered the estuary in 1883 on the excursion steamer Idaho. Excursion Inlet was originally the site of a native village, and since 1891, a fish cannery is located near the mouth of the inlet.

The current facility, owned by Ocean Beauty, was constructed in 1918 and is one of the largest and most successful canneries in Alaska. It mostly processes pink and chum salmon, as well as salmon roe, halibut, and sablefish. Of the seven canneries established over the years in the Icy Strait district, only Excursion Inlet remains. It has persisted for a century, through two world wars, the Depression, through good salmon runs and poor ones, through the elimination of salmon traps and other huge changes in the structure of Alaska’s salmon fishing industry.

During the early stages of American involvement in World War II, the U.S. Army built a major barge terminal at Excursion Inlet. It was capable of handling large ocean-going cargo ships and intended to be manned by thousands of soldiers. The terminal was built to serve as a logistics base for the Army's efforts to liberate the Aleutian Islands. However, by the time the terminal was completed in late 1943, the Aleutian Campaign was effectively over and the Army opted to quietly shut it down. German prisoners of war were later brought in to dismantle the base and salvage usable materials. The docks and some of the buildings were sold to the cannery and remain standing today. The only access is by boat and small plane. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore Excursion Inlet.

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