In 1795, the British explorer Capt. George Vancouver, recorded his entry into the cove which is now called Port Alexander. He was looking for Natives to trade with, but found only a deserted village. The site was named in 1849 by Capt. M.D. Tebenkov, Governor of the Russian American colonies.
In 1913, salmon trollers discovered the rich fishing grounds of the South Chatham Strait area, and fishermen began using the area as their seasonal base. Two floating processors arrived soon after. By 1916, there was a fishing supply store, a shore station owned by Northland Trading and Packing Company, and a bakery at Port Alexander. Families of fishermen began coming to the community during the summers, and many of the first arrivals lived in tents. Karl Hansen, a Norwegian immigrant, operated a fish-buying station, the Pacific Mild Cure Company. He also sold supplies and fuel, and installed a wireless station. During the 1920s and 1930s, a year-round community had evolved around the prosperous fishing fleet, and houses, stores, restaurants, a post office and a school were constructed. The summer population would swell to over 1,000 people. A soda fountain, butcher shop, dairy, dance hall and hotel were built. Beginning in 1938 fish stocks declined dramatically, and processing became uneconomical. The outbreak of World War II essentially collapsed the town's economy; Karl Hansen left Port Alexander in the late 1940s, after 20 prosperous years and 10 years of struggle, bankrupted. By 1950, 22 residents lived in the town year-round.
In the 1970s, State land disposal sales and upswings in salmon stocks enabled new families to build and settle in the community.
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