Williamsport, Iliamna Bay

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Williamsport is a boat landing and community in the Chigmit Mountains, on the west shore of Iliamna Bay, at mouth of Williams Creek, Cook Inlet, Alaska. The community is located at the end of the Pile Bay-Williamsport Road, also known as the Iliamna Portage Road.

The Iliamna Portage Road is 15.5 miles (25 km) long and was originally constructed in the 1930s to allow small commercial fishing boats and other freight to travel across the Chigmit Mountains that separate Cook Inlet on the east and Iliamna Lake to the west. Iliamna Lake drains into Bristol Bay via 50 miles (80 km) of the Kvichak River. The braided channels of the Kvichak are navigable by small boats and are home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world. Commercial harvests are worth hundreds of millions (USD) annually. The portage road greatly reduces the journey between Cook Inlet and the Bristol Bay fisheries, the only other option being the 1,000 miles (1,600 km) route around the Alaska Peninsula.

The one-lane, unpaved road is owned and maintained by the state, but was originally built by the Williams family who still operate the only freight hauling business. The road is open only during the summer and about four boats can be hauled per day, depending on the tide heights in Cook Inlet. Learn more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore more of Williamsport and Iliamna Bay. 

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