Mon, July 29, 2013

Alaska’s Endangered Canneries

By Anjuli Grantham

Diamond X Cannery on the Ugashik River in Bristol Bay.
This photo was taken in 1994. The cannery is now totally destroyed.
Image courtesy Bob King.

Recently, the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Alaskan canneries as endangered historic properties. The NTHP listed Kake Cannery as one of the organization’s 11 Most Endangered properties in the nation, and the AAHP listed both Kake Cannery and Alaska’s historic canneries in general on the list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Properties in Alaska. Clearly there is growing recognition that canneries are historically significant and worthy of our preservation and interpretation efforts.

Kake Cannery is a National Historic Landmark and only one of two canneries listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Alaska. Constructed between 1912 and 1940, the multiethnic labor force ate meals in the mess halls, meandered along the board walks, got too few hours of sleep in the segregated bunk houses, and processed tens of thousands of cans of salmon that were brought in by independent fishermen and from cannery-owned fish traps.

Today, the Kake Cannery is teetering on rotting pilings. It is one of dozens of historic canneries across Alaska that is on the verge of collapse. The Alaska Historical Society is dedicated to advocating for the preservation and documentation of canneries like the one in Kake. Please stay posted to learn more about cannery preservation and documentation efforts, both here and at 49 History’s sister blog, Alaska’s Historic Canneries.
“Alaska’s Historic Canneries”