The History of Quinhagak

Quinhagak is on the Kanektok River on the east shore of Kuskokwim Bay, less than a mile from the Bering Sea coast. It lie 71 miles southwest of Bethel. It lies at approximately 59 45' N Latitude, 161 54' W Longitude (Sec. 17, T005S, R074W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Bethel Recording District. The area encompasses 5 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

The Yup'ik name is Kuinerraq, meaning "new river channel." Quinhagak is a long-established village whose origin has been dated to 1,000 A.D. It was the first village on the lower Kuskokwim to have sustained contact with whites. Gavril Sarichev reported the village on a map in 1826. After the purchase of Alaska in 1867, the Alaska Commercial Co. sent annual supply ships to Quinhagak with goods for Kuskokwim River trading posts. Supplies were lightered to shore from the ship, and stored in a building on Warehouse Creek. A Moravian Mission was built in 1893. There were many non-Natives in the village at that time; most waiting for boats to go upriver. In 1904 a mission store opened, followed by a post office in 1905 and a school in 1909.

Between 1906 and 1909, over 2,000 reindeer were brought in to the Quinhagak area. They were managed for a time by the Native-owned Kuskokwim Reindeer Company, but the herd had scattered by the 1950s. In 1915 the Kuskokwim River was charted, so goods were barged directly upriver to Bethel. In 1928, the first electric plant opened; the first mail plane arrived in 1934.


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