The Bristol Bay Borough communities of King Salmon, Naknek, and South Naknek, are located in the pristine waters of Bristol Bay, home to the largest Sockeye Salmon Fishery in the world. The yearly runs of salmon bring both sport and commercial fishermen, cannery workers, tourists and more to our towns to take advantage of all the wonders we have to offer. Our slice of Bristol Bay is home to commercial fishermen, cannery workers, tourism industry leaders, and two borough governments.
Adventuresome travelers come from all over to view the bears and check out the historical Valley of 10,000 Smokes in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Travelers arrive at the King Salmon Airport, impressive with its 8,500-foot runway. Two commercial airlines, PenAir and Ravn, currently offer daily round-trip service from Anchorage to King Salmon, and during the height of the commercial salmon season, Alaska Airlines also flies round-trip daily. Located next door to the King Salmon Airport Terminal is the King Salmon Visitor Center with its displays and exhibits, including a large relief map of the area, wildlife exhibits, and cultural displays. Lake and Peninsula Borough offices are in King Salmon, while their communities are in further remote areas of the Alaskan Peninsula. Bristol Bay Borough’s seat is in Naknek. While no longer supporting an operational cannery, South Naknek is rich in history and tradition. The Diamond NN Cannery was the last cannery in South Naknek, closing its doors in 2015, and is the star of the <NN> Cannery Project.
In the 1930s, an air navigation silo was built at the site of present-day King Salmon. At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. built an Air Force base. It was maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration throughout the war. In 1949, a post office was established, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a road to Naknek. Other government quarters, such as National Park Service, Fish & Game, and the weather bureau, were developed. The King Salmon Inn opened in 1956. The community has grown as a government, transportation, and service center for the commercial red salmon and recreational visitor industries. The AF Base was closed in 1993.
This region was first settled over 6,000 years ago by Yup'ik Eskimos and Athabascan Indians. In 1821, the original Eskimo village of "Naugeik" was noted by Capt. Lt. Vasiliev. By 1880, the village was called Kinuyak. It was later spelled Naknek by the Russian Navy. The Russians built a fort near the village and fur trappers inhabited the area for some time prior to the U.S. purchase of Alaska.
The first salmon cannery opened on the Naknek River in 1890. By 1900, there were approximately 12 canneries in Bristol Bay. The Homestead Act enabled canneries to acquire land for their plants, and also made land available to other institutions and individuals. The parcel owned by the Russian Orthodox Church on the north bank of the River was the first land recorded in Naknek. Squatters built shelters on the church property and were eventually sold lots in what became the center of Naknek. A post office was established in 1907. Naknek has developed over the years as a major fishery center.
This area was first settled over 6,000 years ago and was historically Sugpiaq Aleut territory. The Sugpiaqs traveled between Katmai and the Naknek River, pursuing seasonal food sources. South Naknek was settled permanently after the turn of the century as a result of salmon cannery development. Some villagers relocated from New and Old Savonoski, near the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." This is one of the many villages along the coast where Laplanders were brought in to herd reindeer. The herds were purchased in the 1930s by the BIA for the local Native economy and were a welcome addition to villagers' diets.
Historical info found on Explorenorth.com
King Salmon: 343
South Naknek: 55
*Census Bureau information released in December of 2017
"The Red Salmon Capital of the World".
Between King Salmon, Naknek, and South Naknek, the borough population swells to about 10,000 people during Sockeye season. Most are only here for 3 months to take advantage of the strong Bristol Bay salmon returns.