Natural-colour image of Dutch Harbor
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Dutch Harbor is a harbor located off of Amaknak Island in Unalaska, Alaska. It was the location of the Battle of Dutch Harbor in June 1942, and was one of the few locations in American territory to be bombed by the Japanese during World War II.
Dutch Harbor is now the home of an important fishing industry.
Russian to American
Druzhinin, the commander of the Russian ship Zakharii I Elisaveta, is credited for discovering the deep-water harbor now known as Dutch Harbor.
Dutch Harbor is located within the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, more precisely on Amaknak Island in the Fox Islands. A mile long spit extending from the southwest of Amaknak Island makes Dutch Harbor a natural port, protecting ships from the waves and currents of the Bering Sea, although winds off the Bering Sea have tossed shipments from decks of ships. Dutch Harbor is close to some of the richest fishing in the world, and it is ice-free.
The native people are known as the Aleut. When the Russians arrived, they exploited the Aleut by taxing them in fur pelts. The Aleut accepted the Russian Orthodox Church because it offered them support and educated their children.
The Russian-American Company operated from 1799 through mid-1800. It used Dutch Harbor in the transport of goods, mainly seal and sea otter fur. In 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the United States. Fur was the main export in Alaska after the United States took control. Hutchinson, Kohl, & Company of San Francisco took over the assets of the Russian America Company in 1867, but it sold out in 1868 to the Alaska Commercial Company. A decline in the sea otter population slowed trade in 1895.
World War II
During the war, Dutch Harbor was used as a home for refugees evacuated from the Aleutian Islands. U.S. Army troops and civilian workers alike spent time at "Blackies", the only bar in the area. This establishment had cheap beer and 50-cent shots of whiskey, but no stools or chairs as they "splintered too easily in event of a fight". Other entertainment included a brothel named "Pleasure Island", but this was closed in 1941 and replaced by part of the submarine base. The 500-man mess hall doubled as a theater. The tickets for military were 15 cents and 35 cents for civilian workers.
In early 1942, intelligence officers of the U.S. Navy predicted that there would be a Japanese attack in the North Pacific area, and naval codebreakers warned Dutch Harbor of the impending attack. On June 3, 1942, at 5:45 a.m., 20 Japanese planes bombed the radio station and the petroleum storage tanks. By May 1943, a peak of 10,151 sailors and 9,976 soldiers were stationed at the base.
In 1947, the last units of the U.S. Navy left Dutch Harbor and the base was decommissioned. In 1952, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stored 232 surplus buildings on 448 acres of land of the Fort Mears Military Reservation. During the mid-1980s, the U.S. Army bulldozed and burned the old World War II barracks on Amaknak Island. The U. S. Navy scraped an air base on the rock.
As the economy and population grows, the town of Unalaska is having trouble meeting the needs of citizens and travelers. Infrastructure such as water plant treatment, landfills, doctors, and police are pushed to the limit. Unalaska is expanding to meet the needs of its citizens, employees and travelers. The Elbow Room is ranked by Playboy magazine as the "roughest bar in the U.S." Kloosterboer’s facility was opened in 2010 and provides processing, storage and logistics to the fishing industry.
Dutch Harbor is ranked as a top fishing port with more than a billion dollars transferred each year. Huge harvests of pollock and cod in the Bering Sea are part of this total. The Bering Sea has a continental shelf that is one of the world’s largest, and supports a rich ecosystem.
- Unalaska - History of Unalaska
- Unalaska - About Unalaska
- Campbell, L. J., & Alaska Geographic Society. (1991). Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Geographic Society.
- [Touza, A. (1994). Towns in transition -- dutch harbor: Playing catch-up. Alaska Business Monthly, 10(10), 50-50. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/233095499?accountid=10353]
- [Kloosterboer dutch harbor; kloosterboer forecasts busy 2010 for expanded dutch harbor port facility. (2009). Leisure & Travel Week, , 31. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/201731337?accountid=10353]
- Media related to Dutch Harbor at Wikimedia Commons