Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 81 – Aug. 5, 2010 Kenai, Nikiski & Captain Cook State Park

At last a break in the weather, so we toured Kenai, Nikiski and Captain Cook State Park.

Kenai is one of the older permanent settlements in Alaska. The area was first occupied by the Kachemak people from 1000 B.C., until they were displaced by the Dena'ina Athabaskan people around 1000 A.D.

Before the arrival of the Russians, Kenai was a called Shk'ituk't, which means "where we slide down." When Russian fur traders first arrived in 1741, about 1,000 Dena'ina lived in the village. The traders called the people "Kenaitze," or "Kenai people."

In 1791, a Russian trading post, Fort St. Nicholas, was constructed in the middle of the village for the purposes of fur and fish trading. It was the second permanent Russian settlement in Alaska.

Hostilities surfaced between the natives and settlers in 1797 when what is dubbed the battle of Kenai, an incident in which the Dena'ina attacked Fort St. Nicholas, resulting in over one hundred deaths from all involved parties. Later, in 1838, the introduction of smallpox killed one half of the Dena'ina population.

In 1869, after the Alaska Purchase the United States Army established a post called Fort Kenay. It was soon abandoned.

In 1888 a prospector named Alexander King discovered gold on the Kenai Peninsula. The amount of gold was small compared to the later gold finds in the Klondike, Nome and Fairbanks.

The Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church and a chapel were built inIMG_0592 the 1894 to minister to the growing Orthodox congregation. It is the oldest Orthodox Church in Alaska. For the Kenaitze Indians, it was the major institution for the assimilation into the western culture when the Russian fur traders first came to the area. The church also served as the first school in the area and as a judicial center acting as arbiter between the Russian-American Fur Trading Company and the Natives.



The establishment of shipping companies in the early 1900s broadened Kenai into a port city. Canning companies were established and helped fuel the commercial fishing boom that was the primary activity through the 1920s. In 1937, construction of the Kenai Airport began.

In 1940, homesteads were opened in the area. The first dirt road from Anchorage was constructed in 1951; pavement would not arrive until 1956 with the construction of the Kenai Spur highway.

The city of Kenai is named after the local Dena'ina (Tanaina) word 'ken' or 'kena', which means 'flat, meadow, open area with few trees, according to the Dena'ina Topical Dictionary by James Kari, Ph.D., published in 2007. This describes the area along the mouth and portion of the Kenai River near the City of Kenai.

We passed through Nikiski on our way to Captain Cook State Park. Nikiski has several major oil owned refineries and related petroleum product plants to process the Cook Inlet oil wells.

Captain Cook State Recreation Area is named for Captain James Cook, the famous English mariner, who in 1778 explored what is now known as Cook Inlet. At that time the area was occupied by Taniana Indians who harvested seasonal runs of salmon and other wild foods.

We had hope it would be a nice place on Cook Inlet for the RV but the campsites are too small for anything but small campers and tents.

It is a very scenic area through and we did see a large cow moose and her calf. No luck through in getting their picture. They disappear into the thick woods before one can even get the camera out.

IMG_0585 Stormy Lake – Captain Cook State Park

Yes, the lake’s name is Stormy Lake.

IMG_0588 Stormy Lake


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