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Kodiak, Alaska

Kodiak, Alaska
View of Kodiak from Pillar Mountain.  At center, from top to bottom: the Near Island Bridge, downtown and the small boat harbor.
View of Kodiak from Pillar Mountain. At center, from top to bottom: the Near Island Bridge, downtown and the small boat harbor.
Motto: "Alaska's Emerald Isle"
Location in Alaska
Location in Alaska
Coordinates: [1]
Country United States
State Alaska
Borough Kodiak Island
Incorporated September 11, 1940[2]
 • Mayor Patricia B. "Pat" Branson[3]
 • State senator Gary Stevens (R)
 • State rep. Louise Stutes (R)
 • Total 6.8 sq mi (12.10 km2)
 • Land 5.4 sq mi (9.5 km2)
 • Water 3.5 sq mi (4.5 km2)
Elevation 49 ft (15 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 6,130 Ranked 8th
Time zone Alaska (AKST)
 • Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-9)
ZIP code 99615, 99619, 99697
Area code 907
FIPS code 02-40950
GNIS feature ID 1404875
Website City Website

Kodiak (Alutiiq: Sun'aq; Russian: Кадьяк, tr. Kadʹyak) is one of seven communities and the main city on Kodiak Island, Kodiak Island Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. All commercial transportation between the entire island and the outside world goes through this city either via ferryboat or airline. The population was 6,130 as of the 2010 census.

Originally inhabited by Alutiiq natives for over 7000 years, the city was settled in the 18th century by the subjects of the Russian crown and became the capital of Russian Alaska. Harvesting of the area's sea otter pelts led to the near extinction of the animal in the following century and led to wars with and enslavement of the natives for over 150 years. As part of the Alaska Purchase by the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a commercial fishing center which continues to this day. A lesser economic influence includes tourism, mainly by those seeking outdoor adventure trips. Salmon, halibut, the unique Kodiak bear, elk, Sitka deer (black tail), and mountain goats invite hunting tourists as well as fishermen to the Kodiak Archipelago. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game maintains an office in the city and a website to help hunters and fishermen obtain the proper permits and learn about the laws specific to the Kodiak area. The city has four public elementary schools, a middle and high school, as well as a branch of the University of Alaska. An antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain above the city historically provided communication with the outside world before fiber optic cable was run. Transportation to and from the island is provided by ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway as well as local commercial airlines.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
    • Alaska Department of Fish and Game 4.1
    • Military installations 4.2
  • Community events 5
  • Education 6
  • Media 7
  • Transportation 8
  • Health care 9
  • Energy 10
  • In popular culture 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


The Kodiak Archipelago has been home to the Alutiiq for over 7000 years. In their language, kadiak means "island". In 1763, the Russian explorer Stephan Glotov discovered the island, calling it Kad’yak (Кадьяк). He was followed by the British captain James Cook fifteen years later, who first penned "Kodiak" in his journals in 1778.

In 1792, the Shelikhov-Golikov Company chief manager Alexander Baranov moved the post at Three Saints Bay (established in 1784) to a new site in Paul's Harbor (Свято-Павловской гавани, Svyato-Pavlovskoy Gavani), which became the nucleus of modern Kodiak.[4]:7 Baranov considered Three Saints Bay a poor location because it was too indefensible. The relocated settlement was first named Pavlovskaya (Павловская).[5][6] A warehouse was built in what became one of the key posts of the Shelikhov-Golikov Company, a precursor of the Russian-American Company and a center for harvesting the area's vast population of sea otters for their prized pelts. The warehouse still stands as the Baranov Museum. Because the First Native cultures revered this animal and would never harm it, wars with and enslavement of the Aleuts occurred during this era. Eastern Orthodox missionaries settled on the island by the end of the 18th century, continuing European settlement of the island, which eventually became the capital of Russian Alaska. The Russian-American Company was established as a partnership between the two countries in the following century to continue the sea otter harvest. By the mid-19th century, the sea otter was almost extinct and 85% of the First Native population had disappeared from violence and exposure to European diseases.

When Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a center for commercial fishing, and canneries dotted the island in the early 20th century until global farm-raised salmon eliminated these businesses. New processing centers emerged and the industry continues to evolve, even today. During the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, animals such as the mountain goat, Sitka deer (black tail), rabbits, muskrats, beavers, squirrels, and others were introduced to the island and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge was created.

As Kodiak was incorporated in 1941, the U.S. feared attack from Japanese during World War II, and turned the town into a fortress. Roads, the airport, Fort Abercrombie, and gun fortifications improved the island's infrastructure. When Alaska became a state in 1959, government assistance in housing, transportation, and education added additional benefits.[7]

In March 1964, a tectonic tsunami struck the city during the 1964 Alaska earthquake with 30-foot (9.1 m) waves that killed 15 people and caused $11 million in damages. Some areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by 30 feet (9.1 m). It wiped out the neighboring Native villages of Old Harbor and Kaguyak. The Standard Oil Company, the Alaskan King Crab Company, and much of the fishing fleet were also destroyed.[8]


Kodiak is located on the eastern shore of Kodiak Island. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.9 square miles (12.6 km2), divided into 3.5 sq mi (9.0 km2) of land and 1.4 sq mi (3.6 km2) (28.66%) of water.


The community of Kodiak lies within the subpolar oceanic climate zone (Köppen Cfc), marked by relatively long and cold winters and mild summers. Precipitation is heavy year-round, though markedly less in the summer months.
Climate data for Kodiak, Alaska
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 54
Average high °F (°C) 35.0
Daily mean °F (°C) 29.9
Average low °F (°C) 24.7
Record low °F (°C) −16
Average precipitation inches (mm) 8.17
Average snowfall inches (cm) 15.6
Average precipitation days 17 16 16 16 17 15 15 14 16 16 16 17 191
Source #1: The Weather Channel (records and precip) [9]
Source #2: Climate Zone (all else) [10]


As of the census of 2000, there are 6,334 people, 1,996 households, and 1,361 families residing in the city. The population density is 706.8/km2 (1,832.7/mi2). There are 2,255 housing units at an average density of 251.6 persons/km2 (652.5 persons/mi2). The racial makeup of the city is 46.40% White, 0.69% African American, 10.47% Native American, 31.73% Asian, 0.93% Pacific Islander, 4.36% from other races, and 5.42% from two or more races. 8.54% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 1,996 households out of which 40.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% are married couples living together, 10.3% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 31.8% are non-families. 24.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 5.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.10 and the average family size is 3.64.

In the city the population is spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 114.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 120.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $55,142, and the median income for a family is $60,484. Males have a median income of $37,074 versus $30,049 for females. The per capita income for the city is $21,522. 7.4% of the population and 3.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 8.4% are under the age of 18 and 0.0% are 65 or older.


Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Preserved Kodiak bear in Mack's Sporting Goods store

Kodiak is an important environmental asset which affects the fishing industry, particularly salmon fishing, and the island is coveted by hunters worldwide for its unique Kodiak bear and other game animals, there are strict laws governing fishing and hunting activities as well as hiking near spawning streams. Both the Department and the city maintain websites and publish brochures to help communicate these strictly enforced laws. All of the city's hotels and businesses have these materials in prominent areas for guests and licenses can be purchases in the city's main sporting goods store and online.

Military installations

The United States Navy operates a small training base near the city called Naval Special Warfare Cold Weather Detachment Kodiak which trains United States Navy SEALs in cold weather survival and advanced tactics.[14]

The United States Coast Guard has a major presence in Kodiak, Alaska.

Community events

Customers line up in front of the Orpheum Theater

The city of Kodiak is home to a number of annual events that draw locals and people from off-island. The most well-known of these is Kodiak Crab Festival. Organized by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, the event takes place over marathon, an ultra-marathon, a 9.2-mile (14.8 km) mountain run called the Pillar Mountain Run and others.


The Kodiak Island Borough School District operates four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school within city limits. The city is home to Kodiak College, a satellite campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Within the public school district, there are eight rural schools. Kodiak Bears sports have a long tradition dating back into the 1960s, when Joe Floyd was successful in coordinating high school athletics as well as intramural sports. He was a coach for several sports, as well as an athletic director for several years. There have been a total of nine ASAA affiliated State Championships in the variety of 2 Boys Track, 1 Girls X-Country, 1 Girls Basketball, 1 Boys Basketball, 1 Boys Baseball, and most recently, a string of three consecutive titles in Boys Cross Country (2006–08). The boys cross country team was led by 3-time state individual champion Trevor Dunbar, who now runs for the University of Oregon. Kristy Klinnert was the Alaska State Cross-Country Running Champion from 1983-1987. She set and still holds the State record in the 3200. For two years in a row, she won the State Championship in the mile and 3200. In 1986, Kristi was named the Alaska Sports Person of the Year.

Kodiak is also home to Saint Herman's Orthodox Theological Seminary, a theological school founded in 1972 under the auspices of the Orthodox Church in America. Students from villages all over southern and southwestern Alaska study at St. Herman's in order to become readers or clergy in the Orthodox Church.


  • KUBD-LP (TV Channel 11), the local CBS and ION affiliate
  • KMXT-LP (TV Channel 9), AlaskaOne
  • KMXT (100.1 FM) the community public radio station
  • KRXX (101.1 FM) commercial radio station
  • KVOK (560 AM and 98.7 FM) country radio station and home of Kodiak Bears athletics
  • Kodiak Daily Mirror (Monday through Friday newspaper)
  • KBKO (FM) (88.3 FM) Sacred Heart Radio


The ferryboat M/V Tustamena is part of the Alaska Marine Highway. It can carry 210 passengers and serves Kodiak, Homer, Whittier and the Aleutians as far as Dutch Harbor.
A Floatplane dropping off guests at a remote wilderness lodge on Raspberry Island (Alaska), part of the Kodiak archipelago. All guests to these lodges begin their journey in the city of Kodiak.

Kodiak Airport attracts both local and regional airlines, air taxis, and charter floatplanes and helicopters which provide transportation to residents and tourists on and off the island. The Alaska Marine Highway provides further transportation via two ferries: the M/V Tustumena and M/V Kennicott. These ships can carry a capacity of 211 and 748 passengers, respectively, and include routes between Kodiak, Homer and Whittier, Alaska. The ferry system no longer takes passengers to Seward. Floatplane and bushplane companies regularly take tourists to remote areas and wilderness lodges both on the various islands of the Kodiak Archipelago and the Katmai coast for bear viewing, hunting and hikes. The city business community also has a fleet of privately owned taxis as well as kayaks, mountain bikes and ATVs for rent.

Health care

Kodiak is primarily served by Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, the only true hospital medical center on Kodiak Island. Individuals located in the smaller surrounding communities are often airlifted into the hospital via helicopter, bush plane, or air ambulance due to remoteness and nonexistent or poor road connections. The city of Kodiak and these smaller communities are also served by volunteer EMT workers and local clinics.


Most electrical energy for the city is provided from the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Generating Station owned by the Kodiak Electrical Association. Substantial amounts of energy are also provided by wind turbines and by diesel generators. There are six 1.5 MW wind turbines that supply up to 1.5 MW each and have a blade length of 38.5 meters and overall height of 118.5 meters.

In popular culture

Kodiak and its USCG base have a center role in the movie The Guardian starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, some scenes were shot there and in the USCG base.

Darby Stanchfield, one of the stars of ABC's hit television series Scandal, was born and raised in Kodiak.

In 2012, rapper Pitbull was involved in an advertising campaign with Walmart, in which the Walmart store that gets the most Facebook "likes" from June 18 to July 15, 2012 would have Pitbull visit and put on a show there. An orchestrated internet campaign urged people to vote for the most remote location imaginable, Kodiak, resulting in a sizable lead for that store.[15] Walmart confirmed that Kodiak won.[16] Pitbull visited on July 30 where he received a key to the city from mayor Branson and then made an appearance before a crowd of hundreds at the Coast Guard base.[17]

The Weather Channel docu-series Coast Guard Alaska follows the lives of Coast Guard members stationed in Kodiak.[18]


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  4. ^ Khlebnikov, K.T., 1973, Baranov, Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America, Kingston: The Limestone Press, ISBN 0919642500
  5. ^
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kodiak
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  12. ^ Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 4.
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External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Official website
  • Kodiak Official Guidebook, Kodiak Chamber of Commerce
  • Kodiak, Alaska at DMOZ
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