The Port of Petersburg lies on the northeastern shores of Mitkof Island in southeast Alaska where the Wrangell Narrows joins Frederick Sound. It is about 187 nautical miles (146 kilometers or 91 miles by air) east-southeast of the Port of Sitka and about 56 nautical miles (62 kilometers or 39 miles by air) southeast of the Port of Kake. Mitkof Island has no bridges, so the Port of Petersburg is accessible only by sea and by air.
The Port of Petersburg welcomes some private yachts and small cruise ships during the summer. It is also a stop on the Alaska Marine Highway's Inside Passage. The Port of Petersburg's James A. Johnson Airport receives daily flights that go on to Seattle and Anchorage after stops in Juneau and Wrangell.
The mainstay of the local Port of Petersburg economy is commercial fishing, with several producers harvesting more than a $1 million of seafood every year. The Port of Petersburg Vessel Owners Association works to ensure that the Petersburg fleet harvests seafood in a sustainable way.
For at least two thousand years, Tlingit fishers and hunters have sought seafood and game from the Port of Petersburg area. When the tide is low, remnants of ancient fish traps and petroglyphs can still be found near the town. The Port of Petersburg is home to a federally-recognized tribe, and more than 10% of the city's population is Alaska Natives.
When Peter Buschmann from Norway arrived at the future site of the Port of Petersburg in 1890, he recognized that the LeConte Glacier could provide ice for packing fish. He built a cannery for the Icy Strait Packing Company, a dock, and a sawmill. Buschmann family members continued to arrive, establishing homesteads and a largely Scandinavian demographic for the Port of Petersburg. By 1920, the Port of Petersburg was a year-round home for about 600 people.
The town of Petersburg was officially incorporated in 1910. In 1916, Alaska Glacier Seafoods, the State's first shrimp processor, was founded. Today, it still operates as a subsidiary of Icicle Seafoods Inc. called Petersburg Fisheries. The Port of Petersburg is well-established as one of Alaska's chief fishing communities.
Today, over three thousand people make the Port of Petersburg their year-round home. In the summer, the population grows as cannery workers, fishermen, and deckhands come for work. The Port of Petersburg also attracts almost 40 thousand tourists every year.
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