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Ninilchik  

The strong Russian influence is predominant in Ninilchik

Shortly before his death in 1725, Czar Peter the Great ordered Captain-Commander Vitus Bering, a Danish navigator in the service of Russia, to find out whether Siberia was joined to North America.  He reached the Bering Strait in 1728, but because of heavy fog, he failed to sight North America.  Bering set out again for America in 1741 in two ships.  Bering's ship wrecked in the Komandorskiye Islands, but the other ship eventually returned to Russia with artifacts, plant specimens and animal pelts — most notably those of the sea otter, one of the finest fur-bearing sea  mammals.

  From 1743 on, Russian fur traders sent hunters into the coastal interior to trap and establish settlements.  Unregulated exploitation of the fur resources by rival British, Spanish and French led to a serious depletion of accessible fur areas, and the killing and enslavement of the peaceful Aleut natives.  This lead to the chartering of the Russian American Company in 1799.  Under the rule of it's first manager, Alexander Baranov, there was a period of about 20 years of order - and extensive systematic exploitation of fur resources.  As time went on, a significant drain was put on the Russian homeland with the cost of administering the Alaska territory.  The U.S. purchase of the Alaska territory from Russia in 1867, along with the disappearance of the sea otter and fur trade, brought about the end of the Russian period — only lasting about 125 years.  The greatest impact of this period was the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, which continues today.

Nininchik, a sleepy coastal village, is a fisherman's paradise, and also a fine stop for photographers alike.  The 1800 Russian Orthodox church and cemetery is quite picturesque, displayed against the backdrop of the majestic mountains.

 

 

Alaska In Numbers

 

• The first white man known to have visited was a Dane, Vitus Bering, in 1728, shortly after that Russians came

 

• Alaska has the northernmost, westernmost and easternmost points in the USA

 

• Alaska is only three miles from Russia

 

• Barrow, America's northernmost city, has 84 straight days during which the sun never sets; in Winter, it has 67 straight days when the sun never rises

 

• The USA paid 2 cents per acre to buy Alaska from Russia in 1867.  The purchase was regarded as a folly - until gold was discovered.

 

• The Malaspina Glacier is larger in area than Rhode Island

 

• Some 90% of all American bald eagles (about 40,000) live in Alaska

 

• Alaska has more than 1400 miles of ferry routes, known as "marine highways"

 

• Alaska has more planes and pilots per capita than any other US state

 

• The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, held every February, is the world's longest and richest dog-sledding event.

 

• Anchorage is almost equidistant between New York and Tokyo

 

• Sitka was once the largest city on the west coast of North America

 

• Turnagain Arm, in the Cook Inlet near Anchorage, had a tide that can approach 39 feet - the second greatest in North America

 

•The Trans Alaska Pipeline pumps 1.9 million barrels of oil a day from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez

 

• About 40% of Alaska consists of federally protected wildlife refuges and national forests, parks and preserves

 

A Russian sign still hangs on this old building

 

A fellow in the local store in Ninilchik hand-ties flies — a lost art, even among the most avid of fisherman

 

 

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