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For other islands named after the Prince of Wales, see Prince of Wales Island.
Prince of Wales Island

Prince of Wales Island is one of the islands of the Alexander Archipelagomarker in the Alaska Panhandlemarker. It is the 4th largest island in the United States (after Hawaiimarker, Kodiak Islandmarker, and Puerto Rico) and the 97th largest island in the world.

Geography and ecology

The island is 135 miles (215 km) long, 45 miles (72 km) wide and has an area of 2,577 sq mi (6,675 km²), about 1/10 the size of Ireland and slightly larger than the State of Delawaremarker. Approximately 6000 people live on the island. Craig is the largest community, founded as a saltery in the early 1900s, it has a population of 2000. 750 people live in Klawock, a long-established village that grew with the fishing industry. Hollis was a boom and bust mining town from 1900 to about 1915, abandoned, it was reestablished as a logging camp in the 50's, and now has a population of 100.

Mountain peaks, all but the tallest of which were buried by Plesticene glaciation, reach over 3000 feet. Fjords, steep-sided mountains, and dense forests characterize the island. Extensive tracts of limestone include karst features such as El Capitan Pit, at 598.3 feet the deepest vertical shaft in the United States.

Moist, maritime conditions dominate the weather.

The Tongass National Forestmarker covers most of the island. Within the forest and on the island are the Karta River Wilderness and the South Prince of Wales Wilderness. The Prince of Wales flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus griseifrons) is found nowhere else.[79826].

The island is in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Areamarker.


POW is the homeland of the Kaigani Haida people.In 1741, Alexi Chirikov, commanding a ship on Vitus Bering's second voyage of exploration out of Kamchatka, made the first European landfall on the northern west coast of North American - near Prince of Wales Island. Juan de Fuca reached as far north as the Strait of Georgia in 1592, and other Spaniards later sailed as far north as Oregon, but not till 1775 did a Spanish expedition reach Prince of Wales Island and claim it for Spain. A British expedition in 1778, under Captain James Cook, accurately mapped much of the the coast of Alaska, including Prince of Wales Island. Comte de La Perouse led a French expedition to the area in 1786.Mining of gold, copper, and other metals on the island began in the late 1800s. Gold production came from underground lode mines exploiting: gold-bearing quartz veins in metamorphic rocks (such as the Gold Standard, Sea Level, Dawson, Golden Fleece, and Goldstream mines); skarns (at the Jumbo and Kassan Peninsula copper-gold mines); zoned mafic-ultramafic plutons, as at the Salt Chuck silver-gold-copper-PGE mine; and VMS deposits such as Niblack. Uranium was mined at Bokan Mountain in the 1950s and 1970's.



Logging has historically been a mainstay of the collective Prince of Wales economy, however, recently there has been a decline in the industry leaving only a few small-scale sawmills operating. In 1975, Herbert Zieske, Chuck Zieske, and Alan Stein and the Point Baker Association hired Dick Folta of Haines to sue the US Forest Service to prevent logging on the northern portion of the island.

In December 1975, Judge von der Heydt issued a ruling enjoining clearcutting. In March 1976, Congress responded to the suit by passing the National Forest Management Act which removed the injunction. Subsequently half of the marketable timber was cut on the north end of the island.

As of 2009, Senators Murkowski (R AK) and Begich (D AK) have announced their intent to introduce a bill to privatize the Northern end of Prince of Wales Island. see


Recently, tourism, including sport fishing has gained a strong place in Prince of Wales' economy. Tourism has also increased in part due to the easier accessibility to Prince of Wales Island by the new Inter-Island Ferry Authority.


Commercial fishing provides the foundation of the economy for numerous towns on the island including Craig, Klawock, Hydaburg, Port Protection, and Point Baker. During the summer, trollers and seiners both fish for all five species of Pacific salmon. Longliners bring up halibut and black cod. Dungeness crab and shrimp seasons are open off and on throughout the year. During the winter there are dive fisheries for geoducks, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins.


Since Prince of Wales Island is almost entirely made up of federal National Forest land, the two ranger districts (Craig and Thorne Bay) on the island provide employment for a number of residents.


Mineral exploration continues at many projects on POW. The only producing uranium mine in the entire State of Alaska is located on POW, the Ross-Adams mine in Kendrick Bay. Current remediation projects have been reported in local media, and continued exploration of Rare Earth Metals continue in the region.



A road system, much of it originally created by the logging industry, spans much of the island and an increasing amount of it is become paved. Only a number of communities on the northern tip of the island are without road access to other Prince of Wales communities.


A few companies provide scheduled barge service from Pacific coast ports to South-Eastern Alaska ports, including those on Prince of Wales island (primarily Craigmarker).

Public Ferry

Alaska Marine Highway System
Historically, the Alaska Marine Highway intermittently served the port of Hollismarker,until the Inter-Island Ferry Authority began regular scheduled service.

Inter-Island Ferry Authority
After little AMHS service, the communities of Prince of Wales Island banded together to create their own ferry service, the Inter-Island Ferry Authority which has two Prince of Wales Island-dedicated vessels in its fleet, currently with year-round daily service between Hollismarker and Ketchikanmarker. In summer there is Monday, Friday and Saturday service between Coffman Covemarker, Wrangellmarker and Petersburgmarker (via Wrangell); and indirect service via connections with the Alaska Marine Highway to many Alaskan ports, Prince Rupert, British Columbiamarker, and Bellingham, Washingtonmarker.


Klawock Airportmarker is the only airport on Prince of Wales island.Three commercial airlines in Ketchikanmarker provide scheduled service to Prince of Wales island.Air taxi or chartered flights are also available from them and other airlines.

Seaplane Bases
FAA IATA ICAO Seaplane Base
KCC Coffman Covemarker
CGA Craigmarker
HYL Hollismarker
HYG PAHY Hydaburgmarker
KXA Kasaan
AQC PAQC Klawockmarker
KPB Point Bakermarker
19P Port Protectionmarker
KTB Thorne Baymarker
KWF Waterfallmarker

Scheduled Airlines
Airline Hub(s) Prince of Wales island Airports
Pacific Airways, Inc Ketchikanmarker Craigmarker, Hollismarker, Klawockmarker, Thorne Baymarker
Promech Air Ketchikanmarker Craigmarker, Hollismarker, Klawockmarker
Taquan Air Ketchikanmarker Coffman Covemarker, Craigmarker, Edna Bay, Hollismarker, Hydaburgmarker, Naukati Bay, Point Bakermarker, Port Protectionmarker, Thorne Baymarker, Whale Pass


Notable ex-Residents


General references

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