The Huna Tlingit are the original inhabitants of Glacier Bay, where they lived for thousands of years. During the peak of the Little Ice Age, glacial advance forced the people to relocate from their homeland to present-day Hoonah. Translated, it means “where the north wind doesn’t blow”.
Fur traders arrived on Hoonah’s shores in the 1880’s. Schools, churches, and stores soon followed.
In 1912, the Hoonah Packing Company built the first cannery in the area which today is Icy Strait Point. Ownership traded hands several times before the Icy Strait Salmon Company purchased the property in 1932. Since its inception, the cannery has played a key role in the community. Hoonah residents were employed there and when a fire destroyed the town on June 14, 1944, many residents made the cannery their home while the city was rebuilt.
While the cannery ceased to produce salmon in 1953, the cannery was used by the renowned Hoonah fishing fleet as a maintenance and storage facility until the late 1990’s.
In the mid 1990’s the Huna Totem Corporation bought the cannery and created what you see today.
Currently, 85% of the staff at ISP are local Tlingit from Hoonah.
Icy Strait Point was originally built as a Salmon Cannery and has been an important part of the community for many years serving many functions. Below is a timeline explaining the many incarnations of these historic buildings.
1912 – Hoonah Packing Company Cannery opens. The Hoonah packing Company was built a mile and a half north of town, establishing a cornerstone for the local economy. Operating as a salmon cannery, ownership was transferred several times and by 1934 had become the Icy Strait Salmon Company.
1914 – Hoonah Packing Company cans an amazing 2,367,072 cans of Salmon.
1917 – The Hoonah Cannery puts up (at that time) the largest pack ever by any cannery in Alaska—152,505 cases. Each case contained 48 one pound cans of salmon.
1923 – The Hoonah Cannery was shuttered and remained so until purchased by the independently owned Icy Strait Salmon Company.
1933 – Hoonah Packing Company ownership transferred to Pacific American Fisheries.
1934 – The Pacific American Fisheries transferred ownership to Peter J Andrae and, finally, to Icy Strait Salmon Company. The new owners installed new, high-speed canning machinery and began canning operations once again.
1938 – The Icy Strait Salmon Company paid 97 cannery workers a total of $12,157.09, an average of $123.33 each. Some 185 fishermen were paid $34,513.17, an average of $186.56 each.
1940 – The National Park Service’s Frank Been visited Hoonah during the canning season. He reported that about 150 men were working on 19 seine boats owned by Hoonah men. About 60 people from Hoonah were working at the cannery. Minimum wage was 65 cents per hour.
1943 – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reported that the most successful seine boat in three Juneau fisheries regulatory districts was the Clarice, which caught 72,000 fish. The crew share was $1085.00. The Clarice was operated by William Johnson of Hoonah, who fished for the Icy Strait Salmon Company.
1944 – The City of Hoonah burned on June 14h. Many of Hoonah’s residents made the Icy Strait Salmon Cannery their home until Hoonah was rebuilt.
1953 – Last year that Icy Strait Salmon Company operated as a full-fledged canning operation. From this point until 1999, the property functioned as a maintenance and support facility for the seine boat fishing fleet.
1954 – Fish caught by the Icy Strait Canning Company fleet were transported by Icy Strait Salmon Co. fish tenders to Pelican, Alaska and canned by the Pelican Packing Company.
1956 – Ownership transferred from Icy Strait Salmon Company to a partnership composed of the Pelican Packing Company, Pelican Cold Storage and the Alaska Transportation Company.
1959 – Purchased by the Alaska Transportation Company.
1962 – Excursion Inlet Packing Co. (XIP) purchased Pelican Packing Co.’s cannery equipment as well as the mortgages of the Hoonah seine boat fleet. The purchase of the seine fleet mortgages guaranteed that Hoonah fishermen would sell their production to XIP, at least until their mortgages were paid off.
1996 – Cannery purchased by the current owners Huna Totem Corporation and leased back to Ward’s Cove Packing Co. for a period of three years.
1999 – Last year the cannery served as a maintenance and support facility for the seine boat fishing fleet.
2001 – On July 8th, the groundbreaking ceremony for Icy Strait Point—America’s only private cruise ship destination—was held.
2004 – May 23rd—Celebrity Mercury makes the inaugural call at Icy Strait Point!
2007 – May 14th—the world’s largest zipline—the ZipRider—opens at Icy Strait Point.
2016 – Grand opening of Icy Strait Point’s cruise ship dock and Adventure Center!