George Island, Cross Sound

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George Island, Cross Sound

by | May 31, 2019

George Island is about 1 mile (1.6 km) long and the largest of the George Islands located on the south side of Cross Sound at the mouth of Port Althorp, about 36 miles (58 km) northwest of Hoonah, Alaska. The island was named by William Healey Dall of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1880.

George Island is the site of Southeast Alaska’s only remaining intact World War II era cannon. The cannon is technically a six-inch fifty caliber steel gun, weighing 18 tons, and was fired only four times for target practice between 1942 and 1944. Although Southeast Alaska never saw action during the war, the area did prepare against the possibility of an invasion. Four large guns were located in Southeast with three near Sitka, and one on isolated George Island. This gun emplacement was meant to help defend the northern entrance to the Inside Passage, the U.S. Army airfield at Gustavus, and the logistical base at Excursion Inlet. The service personnel who manned the gun were based at Port Althorp, a nearby cannery that was appropriated by the military as a base for the duration of the war.

The gun battery on George Island was one of many military facilities built during the 1940s along the Alaska coast from Ketchikan to the Aleutian Islands. Many of these facilities were simply abandoned after the war and the gun on George Island remained. In 2010, the U.S. Forest Service recognized the historic significance of the old military facility and reconstructed the graveled roadway leading from a beach landing in Granite Cove to the gun emplacement and a metal storage Quonset hut. Small cruise ships now bring visitors to the island to hike the trail. Read more here and here. Explore more of George Island here:

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