|Fort William H. Seward, Haines|
We arrived at Haines in the late afternoon and were greeted by Line Handlers in Uniform at the marina! Uniformed line handlers are common on the East Coast but unheard of on the West Coast and certainly not in Alaska. Boaters in these parts are lucky if they receive help with their lines not to mention marina personnel showing up in matching wear. Haines must be an exception because this is the first time we have experienced such a nice welcome in the Pacific Northwest.
addition to the friendly gesture, the marina is well maintained and the town is
very scenic. Located at the end of Lynn
Canal, Haines is situated on the Chilkat Peninsula between the Lutak and
Chilkat Inlets surrounded by mountains – the Coast Range to the east and
the Chilkat Range to the west. The
Tlingit’s first occupied the area between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and called
the area Dteshuh, meaning “end of the trail.”
Europeans began exploring the area in the late 1700’s and by the
mid-1800’s, the Hudson Bay Company began construction on a fort that was razed
by Chilkat Natives in 1852.
as a mining supply center during the Klondike Gold Rush; and in 1892, Jack
Dalton established a toll road on the Tlingit trade route to the Interior,
improving the trail.
During the border dispute between the U.S. and Canada, the Army
commissioned a fort in 1898 to provide a U.S. military presence. The Fort was named in honor William H. Seward
after the Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia
Fort William H. Seward was
garrisoned in 1903 and helped support Haines economy for many years. During WWII, the barracks became an induction
and rest camp for military personnel.
The Fort was laid out in the typical fashion with officers’ quarters
along a ridge, the parade grounds in the center, and the barracks below.
Injured or ill soldiers
were treated at the hospital which now serves as the Alaska Indian Arts
where visitors can purchase carvings and watch demonstrations.
Behind Officers’ Row was an ice pond. Before refrigeration large blocks of ice
were cut from the pond and slid down a chute to mule-drawn sleds or
trucks. The blocks were packed in sawdust and kept frozen year round.
Fort’s Fire Hall, recently refurbished, housed two hose carts, a
chemical cart, and a 1904 LaFrance soda pumper.
Although no major fires broke out at the time, small fires did erupt
periodically in the wood heated buildings.
Wood was later replaced by coal and then oil by 1939. Fort William H. Seward was decommissioned in
1947 and subsequently purchased by a group of war veterans with the intent of
creating small business enterprises within a cooperative. The cooperative failed but businesses sprang
up. Today the buildings are privately
owned and contain shops, galleries, accommodations, and restaurants.
|Alaska Indian Arts, Previously the Fort Hospital|
|Historic Photo - Ice Chute|
|Halsingland Hotel in Fort Seward|