ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog Arctic & Northern Books About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth



The History of Seward, Alaska


Postcard of Seward, Alaska     Seward is situated on Resurrection Bay on the southeast coast of the Kenai Peninsula, 125 highway miles south of Anchorage. It lies at the foot of Mount Marathon, and is the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. It lies at approximately 60 07' N Latitude, 149 26' W Longitude (Sec. 10, T001S, R001W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Seward Recording District. The area encompasses 15 sq. miles of land and 7 sq. miles of water.

    Resurrection Bay was named in 1792 by Russian fur trader and explorer Alexander Baranof. While sailing from Kodiak to Yakutat, he found unexpected shelter in this bay for a storm. He named the Bay Resurrection because it was the Russian Sunday of the Resurrection. The City of Seward was named for U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, 1861-69, who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia during the Lincoln administration. In the 1890s, Capt. Frank Lowell arrived with his family. In 1903, John and Frank Ballaine and a group of settlers arrived to begin construction of a railroad. Seward became an incorporated City in 1912. The Alaska Railroad was constructed between 1915 and 1923, and Seward developed as the ocean terminus and supply center. By 1960, Seward was the largest community on the Peninsula. Tsunamis generated after the 1964 earthquake destroyed the railroad terminal and killed several residents. As an ice-free harbor, Seward has become an important supply center for Interior Alaska.


A Guide to Seward

To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online


History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development