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AREA FACTS
Interesting facts and information about the lodge, it's location and history.
Location & ACCESS

Yakutat, Alaska is located halfway between Juneau and Cordova at the north end of the southeast “panhandle” of Alaska. Yakutat is easily accessed with twice daily flights by Alaska Airline 737 jet. Arrive before lunchtime by taking flight #61 out of Seattle Tacoma Airport or route through Anchorage with flight #66 to land in the early evening which often allows for coordinating connecting flights from further away. Gain precious time for sightseeing or fishing by arriving on the morning plane and departing on the evening plane.
 

Lodge staff can pick you up & transport you to the lodge. However most guests choose to rent a vehicle in order to take full advantage of all the area has to offer. Rental vehicles are rented by the day & may be added to your lodge as package making payment easier at check out. Leonard’s Landing Lodge is just 6 miles from the airport. It shares a scenic bay with the Yakutat boat harbor where fish & sightseeing charters moor.

 
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LODGE History

Leonard’s Landing Lodge was purchased in 1997 by a group of sports fishermen most of whom had a long history of staying at the lodge. The lodge site was originally a marine repair station and had the only marine “ways” railway to pull boats out of the bay in order to work on them in hundreds of miles. The previous owner of the lodge began creating lodging space until there was two waterfront duplex buildings, a small cabin, a warehouse building with two apartments on the top floor, a structure housing three rental units, plus a large building with several guest rooms that was leased to a local seafood processor as a bunkhouse.

After the original “Leonard” died, his grandchildren operated the lodge, adding a waterfront restaurant in 1995. When his granddaughter who managed the lodge wanted to move and raise a family, the property was purchased by the current ownership. At that time the bunkhouse was transformed into a hotel with office, gift shop, and lobby.

Sadly, the restaurant building caught fire & burned to the ground on Labor Day of 2007, taking with it the two apartment rentals that were above it & the main walk-in freezer. By August of 2008, three new waterfront cabins were ready for occupancy in place of the original structure. The property is constantly being upgraded in order to assure the best guest experience. The older waterfront duplex units have been completely remodeled, upgrades in the main lodge have created a comfortable, functional facility for lodge room guests, and in 2017 upgrades to the Halibut building, housing the 3 larger units, will be complete.  Upgrades to the sport fish processing facility include additional walk-in freezer space, high quality vacuum packing equipment & existing freezers have new refrigeration systems.

AREA HISTORY

The village name of Yakutat was derived from the Eyak word Yat-tat, meaning the lagoon behind the breakers or “where the canoes rest.”  Yakutat has a diverse cultural history. It is believed that because of its location, Yakutat grew as an important trade and travel post and was eventually settled by the Eyak from the Copper River area, Tlingits from the South East, and the Athabascans from the Northern Interior who were united through trade, war, potlatches and marriage. Many spoke three or four languages and could trace their origins to different homelands. The local language today is known as the Yakutat Tlingit dialect.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, English, French, Spanish and Russian explorers visited the region. The Russian-American Company built a fort in Yakutat in the 1790’s and for years exploited the local Tlingit native people, plundering their salmon, restricting their travel, and even abducting their children. The Tlingit finally responded in 1804 by attacking the fort and burning it to the ground, causing the Russians to flee the area.

After the civil war in March of 1867, Secretary of State William Seward signed an agreement with Russia to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million dollars. In 1889 the Swedish Free Mission Church had opened a school and sawmill in the Yakutat area. The Stimson Lumber Company built a cannery, sawmill, store and a railroad for fish access early in 1903.

The 12-mile fish train was unique. The Yakutat & Southern was the only railroad in the U.S. built to carry raw fish and the only one to run on a tide schedule. One of the three fish pickup points could not be reached by the fishing boats except during high tide. Each time the train ran it towed 3 to 6 cars each carrying up to 10,000 sockeye or 7,000 coho salmon. The train was retired in 1949 and now sits on display at a park entering town.
During World War II there was a fear that Yakutat would become a Japanese staging area had their battles in the Aleutian Chain been successful. To counter this threat, the United States built a major paved airfield in Yakutat in 1941 and moved in nearly 10,000 troops to protect it.  This airfield remains in use today as the commercial Yakutat airport. The huge flight hangers on the field still remain and one is being modified and houses the Situk River Fly Shop and other businesses.
Major armament fortifications were also built along the shoreline bluffs on the sea side and on the northwestern shores facing the mouth of Yakutat Bay.  Remains of these fortifications still exist and a park was built among them at Cannon Beach some six miles from town. Most of the troops were housed and supplied on the tip of the peninsula facing the bay. For access, a bridge was built across the salt-water Ankau River which connects to several fairly large salt water inland lakes. Salt water rushes both directions under this bridge during the rising and lowering of the tides. 
Logging--- Logging operations were initiated in 1952 and lasted for about 30 years. The slow growth rate of the local spruce trees did not allow for the logging to be sustainable. New growth timber, shore-line log dumps and other facilities are still evident today. 
For more information about Yakutat, call the lodge at 907-784-3006 and order “The Place in Alaska Called Yakutat” on DVD for $13 & plus $5 shipping/handling. Thank you to Ted Heikell, writer, producer, and moderator of the DVD for historical information about Yakutat.
kell, writer, producer, and moderator of the DVD for historical information about Yakutat.

 

 

 

               Above photo courtesy of Cliff & Nancy Hollenbeck
 
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