Three Saints Bay, Kodiak Island

Three Saints Bay was the first substantial Russian settlement in Alaska, established on Kodiak Island in 1784 and abandoned several decades later. The colony was founded by Gregory Shelikhov, and named after one of his ships. Two years later, Shelikhov sailed back to Siberia, leaving a crew behind to manage the settlement.

In 1788, a tsunami destroyed the settlement. The community was rebuilt and visited in 1790 by Captain Gavriil Sarychev. There were about 50 Russians and their wives living in 5 houses. The station included a barracks, a building to house hostages, a carpenter shop, a cooperage, a bath house, a school, and two vessels. Cabbages and potatoes were being grown and there were two cows and twelve goats. The settlement served as a base for recruiting local natives, often through coercion, to work as otter hunters, trappers, and laborers.

Two more earthquakes struck and in 1791. Shortly afterwards Alexander Baranov arrived to take charge of the colony, and immediately recognized the need to move the community. The problems with Three Saints Bay included the severe subsidence that had occurred during the earthquake of 1788, insufficient space to expand the colony, and a lack of timber for building construction. By 1793, Baranov was constructing a new colony on the northeast coast of Kodiak Island called "Saint Pauls", now known as Kodiak. The station at Three Saints Bay was then called the “old harbor”, or "Staruigavan" in Russian. Sometime between 1793 and the mid-1800’s the station was moved north to the present-day village location of Old Harbor. Read more here and here. Download the latest version and open the CoastView app to explore more of Three Saints Bay here: