Baranof Island
Baranof Island, also sometimes called Baranov Island, Shee or Sitka Island, is an island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 in the northern Alexander Archipelago
Alexander Archipelago
The Alexander Archipelago is a long archipelago, or group of islands, of North America off the southeastern coast of Alaska. It contains about 1,100 islands, which are the tops of the submerged coastal mountains that rise steeply from the Pacific Ocean. Deep channels and fjords separate the...

 in the Alaska Panhandle
Alaska Panhandle
Southeast Alaska, sometimes referred to as the Alaska Panhandle, is the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Alaska, which lies west of the northern half of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The majority of Southeast Alaska's area is part of the Tongass National Forest, the United...

, in Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. The name Baranof was given in 1805 by Imperial Russian Navy captain U. F. Lisianski
Yuri Lisyansky
Yuri Fyodorovich Lisyansky was an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy and explorer of Ukrainian origin....

 to honor Alexander Andreyevich Baranov. It was called Sheet’-ká X'áat'l (often expressed simply as "Shee") by the native Tlingit people. It is the smallest of the ABC islands of Alaska
ABC Islands (Alaska)
The ABC Islands is the colloquial name for the Alaskan islands of Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof in the northern part of the Alexander Archipelago. The islands are known for their wilderness and wildlife, which include a clade of brown bear that is more closely related to polar bears than to...



The island has a land area of 1,607 square miles (4,162 square kilometers), which is slightly smaller than the State of Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

. It measures 105 miles (169 kilometers) by 30 miles (48 kilometers) at its longest point and perpendicular widest point, respectively. It has a shoreline of 617 miles. Baranof Island hosts the highest mountain in the Alexander Archipelago, and is the eighth largest island in Alaska, the tenth largest island in the United States, and the 137th largest island in the world. Its center is near 57°0′N 135°0′W. Most of the island lies within the limits of Tongass National Forest
Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres . Most of its area is part of the temperate rain forest WWF ecoregion, itself part of the larger Pacific temperate rain forest WWF ecoregion, and is remote enough to be home...

. A large part has been officially designated
National Wilderness Preservation System
The National Wilderness Preservation System of the United States protects federally managed land areas designated for preservation in their natural condition. It was established by the Wilderness Act upon the signature of President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964...

 as the South Baranof Wilderness.


The population of the island was 8,532 at the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...


Almost the entire area of the island is part of the City and Borough of Sitka
Sitka City and Borough, Alaska
The City and Borough of Sitka, originally called New Archangel under Russian Rule, is a unified city-borough located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean , in the U.S...

 (Sitka also extends northward onto Chichagof Island
Chichagof Island
Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At long and wide, it has a land area of , making it the fifth largest island in the United States and the 109th largest island in the world. It's coastline measures 742 miles. There was a 2000...

); the only part of Baranof that is not in Sitka is a tiny sliver of land (9.75 km²) at the extreme southeast corner, which is in the Petersburg Census Area, and includes the town of Port Alexander
Port Alexander, Alaska
Port Alexander is a city at the southeastern corner of Baranof Island in Petersburg Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 81.-Geography:Port Alexander is located at ....

. This section had a 2000 census population of 81 persons. The towns of Baranof Warm Springs, Port Armstrong, and Port Walter
Port Walter
Port Walter is located on the southeastern side of Baranof Island in Sitka City and Borough, Alaska. It is made up of two parts: Little Port Walter and Big Port Walter....

 are also located on the eastern side of the island. Goddard, a now-abandoned settlement about 16 miles south of Sitka, features a few private homes and hot springs with two public bathhouses. There are also three year-round salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

A hatchery is a facility where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions, especially those of fish or poultry. It may be used for ex-situ conservation purposes, i.e. to breed rare or endangered species under controlled conditions; alternatively, it may be for economic reasons A hatchery is a...

, one located just north of Port Alexander at Port Armstrong, another located just north of Baranof Warm Springs at Hidden Falls, the other just south of Sitka near Medvejie Lake
Medvejie Lake
Medvejie Lake is a long, narrow, snow-fed lake on Baranof Island just south of Sitka, Alaska in the Alaskan Panhandle, which drains into Silver Bay, southeast of Sitka, on west coast of Baranof Island, Alexander Archipelago.- Etymology :...

. The latter is accessible by private road from Sitka. All of these communities, except for Port Alexander and Port Armstrong, are under the jurisdiction of the City and Borough of Sitka, of which, Sitka serves as the borough seat.

Fishing, seafood processing, and tourism are important industries on the island, which is also famous for brown bear
Brown Bear
The brown bear is a large bear distributed across much of northern Eurasia and North America. It can weigh from and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear, rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.There are several recognized...

s and Sitka deer
Sitka Deer
The Sitka deer or Sitka black-tailed deer , is a subspecies of mule deer , and similar to another subspecies the black-tailed deer . Their name originates from Sitka, Alaska. Weighing in on average between , Sitka deer are characteristically smaller than other types of black-tailed deer...


Social and economic history

The first European settlement on island was established in 1799 by Alexandr Baranov
Alexandr Baranov
Alexander Andreyevich Baranov , sometimes spelled Aleksander or Alexandr and Baranof, was born in 1746 in Kargopol, in St. Petersburg Governorate of the Russian Empire....

, Chief Manager and first Governor of the Russian-American Company
Russian-American Company
The Russian-American Company was a state-sponsored chartered company formed largely on the basis of the so-called Shelekhov-Golikov Company of Grigory Shelekhov and Ivan Larionovich Golikov The Russian-American Company (officially: Under His Imperial Majesty's Highest Protection (patronage)...

, for whom the island and Archipelago are named. Baranov Island was the center of Russian activity in North America during the period from 1804–1867 and was the headquarters of the Russian fur-trading interest.

Around 1900, Baranof Island was subject to many small-scale mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 ventures, especially centered around Sitka and on the north side of the island around Rodman Bay. Canneries, whaling stations, and fox farms were established on Baranof Island and smaller islands around it, though most had been abandoned by the beginning of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The remains of these outposts are still evident, though most exist in a dilapidated condition.

In February 1924 the Alaska Territorial Game Commission hired Charlie Raatakainen to transplant mainland goats
Mountain goat
The Mountain Goat , also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. Despite its vernacular name, it is not a member of Capra, the genus of true goats...

 from near Juneau to Bear Mountain. Raatakainen hired a group of Finns aboard his boat the Pelican to complete the job, though one of the group died in the process.

The 1939 Slattery Report
Slattery Report
The Slattery Report, officially titled "The Problem of Alaskan Development,” was produced by the United States Department of the Interior under Secretary Harold L. Ickes in 1939–40. It was named after Undersecretary of the Interior Harry A. Slattery...

 on Alaskan development identified the island as one of the areas where new settlements would be established through immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

. This plan was never implemented.

Fictional accounts

Louis L'Amour
Louis L'Amour
Louis Dearborn L'Amour was an American author. His books consisted primarily of Western fiction novels , however he also wrote historical fiction , science fiction , nonfiction , as well as poetry and short-story collections. Many of his stories were made into movies...

's novel "Sitka" describes conflict between the Russian fur trading empire and Yankee settlers.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a 2007 novel by American author Michael Chabon. The novel is a detective story set in an alternative history version of the present day, based on the premise that during World War II, a temporary settlement for Jewish refugees was established in Sitka, Alaska, in...

is a 2007 alternate-history novel by Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon born May 24, 1963) is an American author and "one of the most celebrated writers of his generation", according to The Virginia Quarterly Review....

 about a Jewish Yiddish-speaking territory in Sitka, including most of Baranov Island. The novel proceeds from the counter-factual premise that the Slattery Report had actually been implemented.

Local Author John Straley
John Straley
John Straley is a poet and author of detective fiction. He currently resides in Sitka, Alaska.-Biography:John Straley was born in Redwood City, California. He grew up in the Seattle area and attended high school in New York City. Straley trained, with encouragement from his parents, to be a...

has written a number of mystery novels set on and around Baranof Island.

External links

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