Haines Alaska

Haines in Winter
Haines Alaska
59.14N – 135.26W

Haines is located on a narrow peninsula extending into Lynn Canal, between the Chilkoot and Chilkat Inlets, 80 air miles northwest of Juneau. It is just south of the Canadian border at British Columbia, 775 road miles from Anchorage.  The population is approximately 2000.


Historically, the Haines area was called “Dtehshuh” by the Chilkat Indians, meaning “end of the trail.” It was a trading post for both the Chilkat and Interior Indians. The first non-Native to settle here was George Dickinson, an agent for the North West Trading Co., in 1880. In 1881, S. Young Hall, a Presbyterian minister, received permission from the Chilkat Indians to build the Willard mission and school. The mission was renamed Haines in 1884 in honor of Mrs. F.E. Haines, who chaired the National Committee that had raised funds for the mission’s construction. Four canneries had been constructed in the area by the turn of the century. During the Klondike gold rush in the late 1890s, it grew as a mining supply center, since the Dalton Trail from Chilkat Inlet to Whitehorse offered an easier route to the Yukon for prospectors. Gold was also discovered 36 miles from Haines in 1899 at the Porcupine District. The first permanent U.S. military installation was constructed south of Haines in 1904, Fort William H. Seward. In 1922, the fort was renamed Chilkoot Barracks. Until World War II, it was the only U.S. Army post in Alaska. It was deactivated in 1946 and sold as surplus property to a group of veterans who established it as Port Chilkoot. In 1970, Port Chilkoot merged with Haines into one municipality. In 1972, the post was designated a national historic site and the name, Fort William Steward, was restored. Haines is also known for its famous strawberries; the Alaskan hybrid “Burbank,” developed by Charles Anway, was a prize winner in Seattle in 1909. The annual strawberry festival developed into the Southeast Alaska State Fair, which draws thousands of visitors each year. The last of the early canneries closed in 1972 due to declining fish stocks. Expansion of the timber industry in the early 1970s fueled growth. The sawmills closed in 1976. Tourism is now an important source of income in the community.

There are two Chilkat Indian Villages in the area, the Chilkoot, in Haines, and the Chilkat, in Klukwan. Haines is home to the world’s largest congregation of bald eagles, who feed from the hot spring-fed rivers. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Reserve, located 18 miles from Haines, is a major attraction in Southeast Alaska.

Forestry, commercial fishing, tourism, and transportation are the primary employers. Tourism businesses, crafts, and the traffic Haines draws as a result of its road connection to the State Ferry have become increasingly important.  The Borough School District, retail trade, business and transportation services, fishing and forestry provide the majority of employment in the Borough. 143 borough residents hold commercial fishing permits. Subsistence activities are important to the area’s Natives.

Haines is a major trans-shipment point because of its ice-free, deep water port and dock, and year-round road access to Canada and Interior Alaska on the Haines and Alaska Highways. It is a northern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) System, a cruise ship port-of-call, and a hub for transportation to and from southeast Alaska. Haines has a State-owned 4,600′ airport runway, with daily scheduled flights to Juneau by small aircraft. There is also a State-owned seaplane base, two small boat harbors with a total of 190 moorage slips, a State Ferry terminal, and a cruise ship dock.

When the Russians first came to the Chilkat Valley, it was populated by the Chilkat Indians. During the gold rush, it grew as a mining supply center. Gold was also discovered in this area. The Borough was incorporated in 1968.

Transportation: Haines is a major trans-shipment point because of its ice-free, deep-water port and dock, and year-round road access to Canada and Interior Alaska. It is a northern terminus of the Alaska State Ferry System, and a hub for transportation to and from southeast Alaska. Haines has a 4,600′ airport runway.

Communities located within the Borough include: Covenant Life, Haines, Lutak, and Mosquito Lake.


Leave a reply