Unalaska Travel Guide, Alaska
Unalaska is Alaska's oldest town, once a tiny Native village, but the changes and development it underwent in the last 3 decades made it become the nation's largest fishing port. The riches of the ocean habitat namely crab and bottom fish have drawn people to Unalaska.
At the beginning there were some fishermen that took advantage of the fact that they can get rich quickly by catching and selling the crabs, but then the market crashed and bottom fishing took over. It proved to be a more profitable business and the economy developed around it. Fish plants were built and many ships began unloading there. Together with this expansion there was an increasing need of working hand so the people moving here increased the city’s population. Most of them pack their things and head back home when the processing plants close for the season, but some of them made Unalaska their home after they have fallen in love with it.
The native people of Unalaska choose it as their home maybe for the same reason adding the fact that they saw the advantage of having a port in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately for them the Russians saw it too and started their invasion many Aleuts being killed and taken slaves.
Russian domination lasted until 1940 when the U.S. Navy took over Dutch Harbor to defend against Japanese attack. The Aleuts had to suffer again as many of them died because of improper housing. The remaining natives own most of the land around town but there is still a mild invasion by the National Park Service that presents the World War II historic sites on Native-owned land.
There are about a few attractions in the city and among them is the Museum of the Aleutians located in Dutch Harbor exhibiting the region's history and best World War II artifacts. Walk around town if you want to see some of the World War II remains outdoors. The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area preserves some evidence of the war and the U.S. Army Fort Schwatka hosts buildings from that period and lookouts of all the nation's coastal defenses. They offer a wonderful view of the ships returning. Some military ruins are still in use, for example there’s the submarine dry dock that today fixes fishing boats. Don’t miss the historic site visitor center, it’s worth a stop.
Besides the military ruins there’s even a more interesting historic site to be visited. It is the Holy Ascension Cathedral with interesting onion-shape domes dating 1896. It has gone through serious restoration and now hosts a significant collection of 697 icons, artifacts, and artworks still in use by the Aleut congregation.
Some of us that have seen Alaska only on TV have a fixed idea about what they can find there: snow, storms and very low temperatures, little to see and do. But if you want to see what it is really like you have to be there. Of course you can get some unpleasant weather, but after you see the locals barely noticing it and going on about their business as if nothing happened you will see things from a different prospective.
You will see Unalaska with different eyes and you will discover that it is a wonderful place and even if it has no parks there are beautiful wildflowers that compensate for them. The port also offers interesting sightseeing opportunities and you can watch the large vessels docked and the activity that goes around them. Everything there is to be seen in the city can be covered in a day, but then you can go on to explore the nearby area that offers endless outdoor activities from bird-watching to fishing.
So come and visit beautiful Dutch Harbor, Unalaska and see for yourself what you have missed so far!
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