Our History

Over 800 years of fishing and adventure!

Tlingit Indian History (800+ years!)

The history of our lodge site has always been noted for exceptional fishing. Our fishing grounds were originally discovered by the Tlingit Indians when they traveled from Canada to what is now called Southeast Alaska and constructed their first village only minutes from our lodge. Once they had time to venture through the region, they discovered and built another village site where our lodge is currently located. The Tlingit name ``Killisnoo`` means ``Shelter from the wind``. The Tlingits chose Killisnoo Island due to the exceptional weather, calm waters of Chatham Strait and the superb fishing on the saltwater as well as the freshwater.

Hutsnuwu Raven leaders in ceremonial garb, at potlatch given to Wolf-Eagle clans, Angoon 1901. Left to right: Youth wearing an abalone-incrusted ``bear's ears`` head-dress and a Chilkat blanket. Mrs. Chief Mitlakettle in black, as a mourner. Chief Mitlakettle of Basket Bay and two unidentified younger men. A huge thanks to the Sobeloff Picture Collection!

Alaska Northwest Trading Company (mid 1800's to 1920's)

The Trading Company, which was later renamed Alaska Fish Oil and Guano, was a trading stop for the whaling fleet that operated in the Bering Sea. Alaska Fish Oil and Guano began rendering oil from herring (our bait fish) and salmon which were locally caught and used in foods, medicine and for lubricants. The by-product, which was ground herring and other fish, was sold as fertilizer and was used in California and Hawaii for pineapple and sugar cane and other crops.

The founders of Whaler's Cove Lodge had viewed a vessel passenger's journal from the late 1800's which states that the crew of the schooner fished in the exact spot for halibut as we do today. The historical log book also refers to the wealth of herring found around the area. This holds true today; the abundance of herring supports our immense resource of all five Pacific Northwest Salmon (King, Coho, Sockeye, Chum and Pink), Halibut, Black Cod and over twenty species of Rockfish including Ling Cod and Red Snapper.

In 1886, Alaska Northwest Trading Company founded the town of Killisnoo on the abandoned Tlingit village site on (then called) Kenasnow Island. The site was chosen due to the prosperous fishery and the calm harbor. The town of Killisnoo was destroyed by fire in 1928. The fish plant was saved, but the homes of the work force were lost. This amazing story was recounted by an equally amazing individual (Dr. Walter Sobeloff) who was born and raised in the town of Killisnoo. Before his passing he was our guest and told the story as he was witness to the loss of the town (as a child).

Whaler's Cove Lodge Founders (1950's through early 2000's)

Whaler's Cove, Inc. was originally founded as a partnership between Carl (Jake) and Marguerite (Peg) Jacobson and Richard (Dick) Powers and Stella Powers in 1977. The concept and actual construction began in 1970 as an informal partnership between Jacobson and Powers. The formalization of Whaler's Cove, Inc. began with the first written partnership agreement and the formation of a Subchapter S corporation 8 years later. The lodge site is part of US Survey #5; one of the first patented properties in Alaska (1882). It was previously an Indian Village and after the Alaska Purchase, a trade manufacturing site. The lodge location was once, also, the town site of Killisnoo; a herring rendering and fish processing plant and one of the largest towns in Alaska at the turn of the century. A fire in 1928 and ``The Great Depression`` put the rendering plant out of business in the early 1930's. The Jacobsons purchased the abandoned property from the caretaker in 1952.

In 1970, the principals of Whaler's Cove, Inc. started construction by clearing the site of dilapidated Killisnoo buildings and dock remains. They purchased a portable sawmill, cut beach logs into building materials and framed the original lodge and 3 cabins. The development proceeded slowly until 1975 when Powers resigned his Forest Service job (area manager in Yakutat, Alaska) and moved to Angoon. He purchased the general store, Angoon Trading Company, from the Jacobsons and accelerated the growth of Whaler's Cove Lodge. The first summer season of guests was in 1983.

Whaler's Cove Lodge...Today

Today, Whaler's Cove Lodge is truly an authentic and enduring Alaskan Legacy Lodge in an absolutely beautiful part of this world! In 2020 we celebrated our 39th season! We believe and implement customer intimacy from the very first phone call to the Founder's Club appreciation program. We welcome you to come and relax.

Call Jay to Book Your Alaskan Adventure at Whaler’s Cove Lodge!