Halibut Cove, Ismailof Island

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Halibut Cove is a small community lining the shores of The Narrows, a protected waterway separating Ismailof Island and the mainland on the southeast shore of Kachemak Bay, Alaska. The island is actually two islands connected by a .25 mile (.36 km) long sand and gravel spit. The island was named for Captain Ismailov of the Imperial Russian Navy who explored Alaska in the 18th century.

This area was historically occupied by Dena’ina people, the early Athabaskan culture of Cook Inlet. In 1911, a herring fishery in Halibut Cove started the European settlement and a population boom. The fishery employed as many as 1,000 people during the height of the season. A town and herring salteries sprang up, and docks were built to accommodate the steamers that came to load kegs of salted fish. By 1927, pollution had destroyed the herring spawning grounds, and by 1928 the herring were gone and the boom was over. Halibut Cove became a ghost town with only a few tenacious old-timers remaining. 

In 1948, Clem Tillion bought a homestead in Halibut Cove and over many years fostered the redeveloping community. He started a regular mailboat service with the Stormbird, and a daily ferry from Homer on the Danny J. In 1984, The Saltery restaurant was opened in a building on piles overlooking The Narrows. Today the community supports thriving seasonal tourist services, as well as resident artists, oyster farmers, and a few that still fish commercially for salmon, halibut, and cod. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore Halibut Cover and Ismailof Island.

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