Seine nets stacked on the dock of the Larsen Bay Cannery, which turned 100 years old this year. NOAA photo
summer marked 100 years of operation for the Larsen Bay
cannery. KMXT's Brianna Gibbs has
this history of the century old fish processing plant.
In 1911, the
Alaska Packers Association moved its prominent cannery operations from the village of Karluk
to the sheltered inlet at Larsen
Bay. According the book
"Salmon from Kodiak," written by Patricia Roppel, (ruh-pel) published by the
Alaska Historical Commission, the move was due to the lack of a harbor in
Karluk and the frequent shipwrecks in the shallow and rocky waters. Many
workers and owners have come and gone in Larsen
Bay since then, but 100 years later
the cannery continues to operate on a small spit between Uyak and Larsen Bay.
Christensen is almost as old as the cannery. At 91 years old she still lives in
Larsen Bay and remembers what it was like to
work at the cannery in the late 1930s.
-- (LB Cannery 100 1: :12sec "There was a bunch of ... trailing
lived in Karluk at the time but would travel to Larsen Bay
in the summers to work.
-- (LB Cannery 100 2: :39 sec "We used to have to teach ... one pound cans.")
In the early decades of the
cannery, ships from San Francisco
would bring dozens of immigrants to work during the busy summer months.
-- (LB Cannery 100 3: :45 sec "Oh they had a building ... growing up.")
Christensen and her husband moved to Larsen
Bay permanently as
caretakers of the cannery during the winter months. Her husband was the watchman
for the cannery and the post master for the village. She ran the small store
next to the cannery. They held these roles for over a decade and Christensen
said she's seen a lot of changes since then.
-- (LB Cannery 100 4: :22 sec "Yea there's a lot of changes ... Packers.")
The beach gangs were groups of
fishermen that would run long seine nets from the shore.
Alan Beardsley and his family owned
a set net site in the bay during the 1980s. Beardsley eventually went on to own
the cannery during the 80s and 90s.
-- (LB Cannery 100 5: :31sec "What happened is
... of a new company.")
The company was called Kodiak
Salmon Packers and Beardsley owned it for about 20 years. He said some of his
fondest memories are from Larsen
-- (LB Cannery 100 6: :44 sec "Well
grows ... pockets weren't deep.")
like Christensen, said the cannery has seen some changes.
-- (LB Cannery 100 7: :39 sec "When we took over ... fish as their swimming by.")
Seafoods continues to operate the current cannery. As fish processing
operations in Larsen
Bay begin a second
century, Beardsley said it is most definitely the place to bring your fish if
you are a west side fishermen.
-- (LB Cannery 100 8: :43sec "It's in the right spot
... to spend a summer.")
hasn't been to the village in about four years but said his brother continues
to operate a family set net site in the bay.