AboutBristol Bay Borough is known as the "Red Salmon Capital of the World" as well as the "Gateway to Katmai National Park and Preserve." It is located in Southwestern Alaska at the head of Kvichak (KWEE-jak) Bay, an arm of the larger Bristol Bay.
Bristol Bay Borough was incorporated as the state's first borough in 1962. The borough functions as the official governing body for Naknek, South Naknek, and King Salmon and provides a variety of important services. The borough offices are located in Naknek.
The main feature of the borough's setting is the Naknek River and the cliffs bordering Kvichak Bay. At Naknek and South Naknek, where the cliffs are at their highest and the river is at its widest, the combination of the broad tidal river and the brown cliffs with their crowning greenery, present a truly striking picture. Looking across the river from one community to the other, the towns appear dwarfed by the cliffs on which they are situated.
Naknek - Naknek is located on the north bank of the Naknek River. In 1890, the first cannery opened on the Naknek River. By 1900, there were approximately 12 canneries in Bristol Bay. The Homestead Act enabled canneries to acquire land for their plants and also make land available to other institutions and individuals. The parcel owned by the Russian Orthodox Church on the north side of the Naknek 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 U.S. post office was established in 1907. Naknek has developed over the years as a major Alaska fishery center and center of local government.
King Salmon - King Salmon is located on the north bank of the Naknek River, about 15 miles up river from Naknek. The two communities are connected by the Alaska Peninsula Highway. King Salmon is the regional transportation center, with many airline flights in and out daily.
At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. government constructed an air force base in King Salmon. The base was maintained throughout the war by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The base was closed in 1994. In 1949, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the road connecting King Salmon to Naknek. A U.S. post office was established in King Salmon the same year. Other developments that occurred around that time included the construction of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game quarters, a weather bureau office, and expansion of the FAA.South Naknek - South Naknek is located on the south bank of the Naknek River. It is a more traditional Alaskan community. It is not connected to the other communities by road, except for a few months when vehicle travel is possible via the winter trail across the frozen Naknek River.
A Native village of Qinuyana was once located on the site where it developed. Many of the villagers came to South Naknek from the villages of New and Old Savanoski. Old Savanoski is located near the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." It was abandoned after the 1912 Katmai volcanic eruption.For More Information - Call or write the King Salmon Visitor Center for a information packet on visiting the King Salmon/Naknek area.
Information & Education Program Supervisor
Alaska Peninsula & Becharof NWR