Wrangell is named after Baron Ferdinand von Wrangell of the Russian American Company, who was charged with extending Russia’s fur trade into Southeast Alaska. To that end, he ordered a fort to be established in 1833, on Wrangell Island near the mouth of the Stikine River. The Stikine Tlingit Indians, who were scattered in villages nearby, moved closer to take advantage of fur trading opportunities. In 1839, the fort passed into the hands of the British Hudson’s Bay Company. With the purchase of Alaska in 1867, the need was urgent to enforce the United States’ presence in its recently acquired territory. An American fort was built, which the US Army occupied during a series of gold rushes, ending with the Klondike Rush in 1898. Wrangell began to grow beyond its boom-and-bust origins during the 20th century, becoming a thriving hub for lumber, fishing, and mining, as well as the newly minted tourist industry.
About the Author
The Wrangell Museum and the personal collection of Mike and Carolyn Nore contribute a rich and varied selection of photographs documenting this robust Alaskan town ruled by four flags. Bonnie Demerjian is a longtime Alaskan and the author of two books on Southeast Alaska: Roll On! Discovering the Wild Stikine River and Anan: Stream of Living Water.