Thorne Bay is on the eastern shore of Prince of Wales Island. It rests on gentle hills overlooking its namesake bay, where Alaska Natives hunted and fished for centuries.
Ketchikan Pulp Co. brought their floating logging camp to shore here from Hollis in 1961, when timber was still the leading sector of the island’s economy. The “new economy” boasts a number of visitor services, as indicated by the icons shown here. K through 12 schools provide education while a U.S. Forest Service ranger district office and the field office for Southeast Road Builders provide employment for families in the area. Thorne Bay is linked to the rest of the Island by the state Scenic Byways. Thorne Bay can also be accessed via several floatplane services and private boats.
Visitors entering on the main road find a unique welcome sign plaza housed in “The Claw”—the world’s largest log-handling grapple. Thorne Bay was home for the world’s largest logging camps in the 1960s. In 1982, a State of Alaska land sale program gave residents the opportunity to incorporate their city. Fishing, beachcombing, clamming and hiking are close by in the bay and up the Thorne River. Thorne Bay is also the access point for the popular USFS-maintained Eagles Nest Campground as well as the Balls Lake and Sandy Beach picnic areas. An archeologically significant 5,360-year-old spruce root basket—”The Thorne River Basket”—was found in the estuary of the Thorne River in 1998 and is preserved in the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.
Naukati Bay on the northwestern shore of Prince of Wales Island began as a logging camp and remains an unincorporated community. Historically, Alaska Natives camped here and called the bay Naukatee. It is the gateway to Sea Otter Sound, which is rich in marine life and wildlife.
Several attractions draw people to the community and services available here are indicated by the icons to the right.
A floating dock and boat launch are near the Naukati Bay Shellfish Nursery, where oyster spat (seeds) are grown and provided to a number of oyster farms in the area. Naukati Bay is the hub of the fast-growing oyster production industry on Prince of Wales Island. Commercial operations around Sea Otter Sound range from small farms, with about 100,000 oysters in floating arrays, to large facilities that keep as many as 1.5 million oysters feeding on the sound's rich nutrients. Oysters from this area are sold to Alaskan retailers, the cruise industry, lodges and restaurants and shellfish connoisseurs as far away as Hawaii.
A covered picnic area is open to the public and is a favorite gathering place for community activities. Naukati Bay’s Fourth of July celebration includes an axe throwing contest, a skunk cabbage contest and games for children, closing with a brilliant display of fireworks.
The community is on the way to many of the Forest Service’s well-maintained trails; numerous creeks and lakes are also nearby off the Scenic Byway. Accessible from the Naukati Bay area are Sarkar Lake Canoe Loop; Beaver Falls Boardwalk Trail; El Capitan Cave; and Cavern Lake trail. RV parking is available, but not other RV services.
Klawock is on the central western shore of Prince of Wales Island. Because of its location, Klawock is the “Crossroads” of the island. The paved Scenic Byways intersect here, leading south to Craig, east to Hollis and the ferry terminal and north to communities on the northern half of the Island. Many services are available in the community, as indicated by the icons. Klawock can lay claim to a pair of distinctions: the community has the largest employee-owned sawmill and only airport runway on the Island. Klawock also has a deepwater port suitable for loading large ships.
The townsite was a summer fishing camp until Tlingit chief Kloo-wah permanently moved his clan here from a village in Moira Sound. Klawock is known historically as the site of the first salmon cannery in Alaska. Klawock is a significant center of Tlingit culture, with an annual celebration of Elizabeth Peratrovich’s pioneering civil rights
work on behalf of Alaska Natives.
The totem park has 21 poles that are masterfully carved replicas of the original totem poles that stood in Tuxekan, the original winter village of the Heenya Kwaan people. In recent years, the raising of new totem poles in the traditional manner has prompted grand celebrations. A heritage center with a longhouse and a carving shed are near the edge of town. Visitors are welcome to see the carving activity and visit with the carvers when they are working.
You can feel the charming history in the beautiful town of Craig, Alaska. They have excellent walking trails. The old cannery is an "out and back" type walk that showcases historical artifacts from the Japan Tsunami and at the end is a beautiful hand carved memorial to those lost at sea. The ballpark/graveyard trail is also an "out and back" type that highlights a veterans memorial with a fascinating canopy of trees and many picture friendly sites. The enjoyable 1-mile is low impact, yet slightly challenging is pet-friendly and one you will remember. You can walk "the loop" around Hamilton for a perfect 3 mile walk about. Our Healing Heart Totem Pole is a sacred spot which thousands have visited to share its meaning. We have local artist shops and stores that will ensure you leave with a memorable gift from your trip. Many local restaurants and taverns and over 25 local B&B's and hotels to choose from, they know you will find a place that makes you feel at home.
Craig also hosts The Island Grind monthly which provides music and entertainment to all followed by a light dessert. Monthly swap meet and events are listed on craigak.com. There's not a month that goes by that doesn't have a special event. The 4th of July is a special time of year with more than 3 days of packed events. This year Craig is hosting the Island Art Extravaganza in September! They offer free site seeing trips through city hall, and you can even volunteer for a day and ride with their local EMS squad or the fight the fire you've always dreamed of!
Tlingit and Haida peoples traditionally used this area for its rich seafood resources, and still do. Craig is the most populous community on Prince of Wales Island and the leading business center.
In the early 1900s, a fish saltery was established on nearby Fish Egg Island and a salmon cannery was built in Craig. Beginning in the 1950s, Craig’s major industry was logging, but with changes in demand and less available timber for sale, the town has diversified into many other economic sectors.
Craig is the retail, service and transportation hub of the Island. Fishing, fish processing, timber operations, government and commercial services provide employment and goods for the community. Tourism and recreational opportunities also abound in Craig and surrounding areas. Among the recreational facilities are a community swimming pool, a city gym and numerous parks. A number of fishing charters and wildlife-watching options are available.