Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Historic Haines

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.  
Haines Marina
In 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.  
Downtown Haines
Haines grew 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 in 1867. 

Officers' Row
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.  
Alaska Indian Arts, Previously the Fort Hospital
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.  
Historic Photo - Ice Chute
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.  
Fire Hall
The 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.

Halsingland Hotel in Fort Seward

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