Petersburg Travel Guide, Alaska
With the same name as the Russian city, Petersburg is not much linked to Russian culture; in fact its founder was a Norwegian who happened to be named Peter so the town was named for its founder.
He was the one that founded a cannery around 1898 to explore the abundance of fish to be found in the area which was an ideal location for salmon and halibut fishing. Things went well for a while and many Norwegians came to work in the cannery but after only a few years the business failed due to a wrong merger. Probably this misfortune brought about Peter Buschmann’s death, he killed himself.
His personal failure did not affect the town which developed into a nice prosperous and picturesque town. The town exudes a quiet confidence, reserve, and sense of comfort not to be found in other more touristy Alaska towns and others' perceptions of their town as second-class don't matter much to Petersburg natives. They like their town just the way it is and one of the facts that made it possible to keep it this way is that the big ships can’t enter the narrow harbor. The population has done its share of protecting the city and keeping it unspoiled by tourism. So instead of many souvenir shops, huge malls and other shops and sights designed to please the tourists you will see businesses that cater to the local’s needs. They are all interesting and thriving little shops, a proof of the town’s healthy economy.
The town has kept its original purpose and charm and you won’t see many tourists, instead you will be able to see the fishermen going about their business.
Fishing roots remain the cornerstone of the local economy, but the town's economy is also based on government work so people here are doing well and that can be seen around town too, a town with beautiful white clapboard houses, with streets, boardwalks, and buildings continue over the smooth waters of Wrangell Narrows and with large boat harbors.
Visiting the town will not take more than a day and you can do it all by walking its lovely streets including the boardwalk streets of Hammer Slough, the waterfront where you will see the fishing fleet at action, the Eagle's Roost Park – a nice place to sit on the grass and watch the waterfront- and the boardwalk over muskeg swamp.
Among the most notable attractions is the Sons of Norway Hall center where you can marvel at a large model Viking ship and the Tonka Seafoods the place where you can have the fish that you caught processed, but if you weren’t too lucky they also have a shop and mail-order operation.
For those keen on history there is the Clausen Memorial Museum, tracing the town’s history, with exhibits including a model fish trap, old nautical equipment and fishing gear. The visitors and the community are involved the museum’s activity including gathering information, so visitors will be pleasantly surprised by the institution and feel that they can be part of the town’s history.
At the Fishermen's Memorial Park you will see plaques under a bronze statue with names of those lost at sea.
The outdoors are just as unspoiled ass the town and exploring it you will feel like you are among the few who had the opportunity to walk this land. The trails and mountain-biking routes take you to wonderful spots.
The Wildlife watching is without a question at its best, the eagles are everywhere, in the tops of the trees, near the canneries and anywhere along the water; humpback whale-watching is just as easy and accessible.
Even if it is not as touristy as the other Alaska towns, Petersburg offers what the others can’t: the authenticity and calm of a pleasant fishing town.
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