Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Days 78 & 79 – Kasilof Beach & River

Day 78 was spent doing laundry, housekeeping and minor electrical repairs. The sun did come out in the afternoon.

Today, day 79, we had hoped to take a drive along the beach to Cook Inlet but as you might have guess, we woke to rain and low clouds. By lunch, there was a break in the clouds so we decided to explore the Kasilof area.

The Russian leader of the Lebedef-Lastochkin Company, Kolomin, built a stockade at the location of Kasilof in 1786. It was called Saint George, probably after the name of one of the ships of the company. An agricultural settlement of Dena'ina grew around the stockade. The area came to be called Kasilof after the Kasilof River in the 1800s.

The Kasilof River is a river on the western Kenai Peninsula begins at Tustumena Lake and flows northwest to Cook Inlet near Kasilof. The upper section of the river is very swift. Due to the silty nature of the glacial runoff that comprises most of the river it is idea for salmon fish wheels as the salmon cannot see the fish wheel as they swim upstream to spawn.

The first fish wheel was probably invented in China. They have been used in countries all over the world including China, Japan, France, and the United States. Fish wheels were being used to catch fish in North Carolina as early as 1829. This technology was in use in the Columbia River drainage by 1879. Gold stampeders brought the technology to Alaska in the late 1800's where it quickly caught on along Interior river systems.

Fish wheels consist of two large baskets that turn on an axle. They are rotated by the river current and scoop up passing fish as they turn. Captured fish slide down a chute into a holding box that is emptied several times a day.


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