A brief look into Edna Bay's history

Kosciusko location: latitude - 56°03'N. longitude - 133°30'W.

Kosciusko size ...: 25mi/40km long, and between 5mi/8km and 12mi/19km wide.

Edna Bay area size: 10 square miles of water and 27 square miles of land.

The information below is a comprehensive description of Edna Bay. It took some time to gather and compile all of it, and I hope that it becomes the #1 resource for Edna Bay information on the internet. If there are any other historical facts on the bay that I missed, please, inform me of them so that I can add even more to this page for everyone to see. I hope you enjoy it!

The small ocean community of Edna Bay is located in the Tongass National Forest. With lush rain forest plant life covering every inch of the island, wildlife that is just as abundant, and the most pristine blue ocean you'll ever see; every day in Edna Bay offers a beautiful new pallete of natural display. Open areas are filled with a diverse assortment of wild flowers and edible berry producing plants. The lush green old growth forests are carpeted with thriving ferns and soft green moss. With wildlife prevalent in so many places, Edna Bay offers an unsurpassed recreational experience and is a truly beautiful place to live.

The climate is moderate, with warm winters and mild summers. It tends to rain, or be overcast more in this part of the state than in other areas. Though the area isn't plagued by the typical below zero, heavily snowed, Alaskan winter. The summers are equally pleasing with temperatures rarely going above 90 degrees on the hottest of days.

The island has many naturally occurring species of animals that may be harvested. The bear, deer, and large assortment of ocean fish offer an exceptional subsistence lifestyle to those who live here, and allow them to do so in comfort. The managed logging on the island only helps to improve the land animal populations by opening up more areas for the animals to find natural food sources, and escape predators. The island also has a large population of timber wolves that keep the other large animal groups in check - other predator species include martens, mink and eagles. There is a wide array of non-predatory local bird species as well - including hummingbirds.

The community of Edna Bay was established in 1983, after the great logging expeditions of the 1950's. The name Edna Bay was originally given to the area by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1904. The land that the community currently occupies is located on the Southeastern corner of Kosciusko Island, and was initially part of a large state land disposal sale. At it's peak there were well over 100 people living here in the bay, but as logging subsided, so did the population. Edna Bay was originally established as a fishing community, not just because of the logging that was thriving here initially. Many of the original fisherman that came to the bay still reside here today. Edna Bay is in the perfect protected location with excellent access to the local fishing grounds. At one time, there was even a fish scow located in the bay which provided local fisherman with a place to sell their catch. Today, there are only about 50 people residing here year-round, but the population is once again beginning to increase.

Edna Bay in 1956 - History in the making.

Edna Bay in 1956 - The beginning of the Edna Bay community.

The island itself is on the outermost edge of the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska. Kosciusko has no access by road - access is strictly limited to boat or floatplane. Even though access to the island from the outside is restricted, access granted to residents of the island is extensive, thanks to the large inner island road system that was developed on Kosciusko during the 1950's when logging was at its peak here. Were it not for the expansive road system, travel anywhere on the island would be nearly impossible - even on foot. The forests here are full of left over logs that the logging companies saw no need for, as well as the large amount of naturally occurring blowdowns. Because of this, the forest floors in most areas of the island are a grid maze of moss coated logs.

Over the past century, Edna Bay has seen a diverse history of timber, mining and fishing operations in effect. The initial mineral and logging operations started in the 1940's during World War II - some of those operations are still prevalent here today.

Logging - the foundation of this great community.

Edna Bay in 1956 - A logging truck: the foundation of Edna Bay's history.

An interesting fact on Kosciusko's history is that the island supplied Howard Hughes with some of the spruce that was used to build the Hercules (more commonly referred to as the "Spruce Goose"). In 1942, during World War II, the government introduced a mandate that stated manufacturers were not to use materials critical to the war effort, such as steel and aluminum. Because of this mandate, Hughes was forced to construct a majority of the plane from wood. Only select parts of the Hercules actually consisted of Sitka Spruce - the majority of the plane was built using birch because of it's resistance to rot and weaknesses accustomed to other types of wood. Because the plane was named "Spruce Goose" by the media at the time, there is a common misconception that the plane was made entirely of Alaskan Sitka Spruce lumber. Though it was not needed extensively in it's production, it is a known fact that what spruce was needed in the plane's design was taken from this island and others in the area.

Sitka Spruce, among many other evergreens native to the island, is largely dispersed through all areas of Kosciusko. Some of the gigantic old growth Sitka Spruce trees, on the Southwestern edge of the island near Straw Pass, have even been speculated by the U.S. Forest Service to be the largest live standing trees in the state of Alaska.

Trees - the hallmark feature of the island of Koskiusco.

Edna Bay in 1956 - A logging truck returning with a full load.

Through the late 1970's to the early 90's, logging in the area drastically subsided, and fishing had become more prevalent. Today, Edna Bay is primarily a community driven by commercial fishing and some managed logging and timber sales. The bay has also been found as a great place for retirement. There is a state dock system, on island phone services, AT&T broadband services, a public school, post office, local store, transport services, and local lumber mills as well. There is even a Karelian Beardog breeder located in the bay. Emergency response systems include a fire truck, an emergency medical building, and multiple trained EMT's on the island.

Access to outside towns is favorable if medical assistance or other services are needed. The closest town to Edna Bay is Naukati, which is about 30-45 minutes away by water in an average performance watercraft. Once in Naukati, the closest city is Craig, another 30 minute drive on paved roads. Medical, optical and dental care are available in Craig, as well as access to other services. Ketchikan (the largest local city, population 15,000) is 90 air miles Southeast of Edna Bay, and can easily be reached by one of the regular float plane flights that come to the community multiple times per week.

People - the foundation of what was yet to come.

Edna Bay in 1956 - The foundation of Edna Bay; the start of a great future.

Though Edna Bay has most of the essential services in full operation, there are some facilities present in the bay that are not currently in use. As was stated before, the island has a large population of retirees and not very many younger aged people. There is also a log transfer site on the East side of the bay that is in the planning stages of being used again in the near future, but for now it serves as a helipad for emergency medivac response when needed.

As you have read, Edna Bay has had ups and downs over the years, but it will always offer a unique lifestyle that can not be found anywhere else. Things are shaping up - the roads in the bay are due to be refurbished and managed Forest Service logging is due to return - which is much needed. New residents have started building homes here and bringing new life to the community. The history is all fairly recent, but one thing is for sure, Edna Bay has a long and great future to look forward to!