Petersburg

Overview

Introduction

A fishing village founded more than a century ago by Norwegian fishermen, Petersburg is about halfway between Ketchikan and Juneau at the northern tip of Mitkof Island, and is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. It's more of a working town than a tourist mecca, and Petersburg's work is fishing. More than 400 commercial and sportfishing vessels ply the waters around Mitkof Island, providing employment for most of its residents.

The Tlingit people had long used the island as a fishing camp when Norwegian adventurer Peter Buschmann stopped there in the 1890s and noted its proximity to the LeConte Glacier. With an inexhaustible supply of glacial ice and abundant fish, the island impressed Buschmann as an ideal spot to build a cannery. His instincts proved correct. With help from several hundred fellow Norwegians and the Tlingit population, he built Petersburg into one of the most prosperous fishing villages in southeast Alaska. A historical marker indicates the exact spot of Buschmann's cannery, across the street from the present-day Petersburg Fisheries on Nordic Drive.

Today, the pretty little town still has a strong Norwegian flavor: Rosemaling (a painted flower pattern) decorates buildings, the grass lawns (a rarity in Alaska) are clipped, homes are well-kept, and the streets are clean. Petersburg can be reached by air, Alaska Marine Highway ferries and small cruise ships.

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