Monday, September 15, 2008

Sitka Today

Sitka is situated on Baranof Island, on the outer coast of Alaska's panhandle, the narrow strip of land, islands, and waterway clinging to the western edge of Canada's British Columbia.

The city rests in the heart of North America's only temperate rain forest, the Tongass, and is about 800 air miles north of Seattle, Washington.

The modern city of Sitka has roughly the same footprint as its ancient Tlingit precursor. The wild country of the Tongass National Forest hems Sitka on three sides; the Pacific Ocean on the fourth.

A ten minute walk from downtown will put you on the fringe of true wilderness.

 Sitka is a tourist port but is devoid of the shoreside malls that spoil other coastal cities.

                                        It is a small working town--

                                   -that strongly clings to it's vast historic heritage.

Cannons with original Russian stampings still guard Sitka on top of Castle Hill. On this site on Oct. 18, 1876, a ceremony was held as Russia transferred Alaska to the United States. This is also the site where in 1959 the first 49 star flag was raised in Alaska.

The Sitka Lutheran Church was founded in 1840 as the first Lutheran church on the west coast of North America. The original building was built in 1843 and lasted until 1888 when it was in disrepair and torn down. Fire damaged the church in 1993 and it was rebuilt to it's present condition. Historical artifacts are in use and displayed.

The original 1840's pulpit, communion rail and kneeler, bibles and prayer books are here. The Russian-U.S. transfer agreement of 1867 specifically deeded this site to members of the Lutheran church for their use forever.

The Kessler organ was the first pipe organ on the west coast of North America. It was made in Estonia, Russia in 1844 and is still in use today.

The Alaska Raptor Center is a complete veterinary-staffed hospital for the care of injured birds of prey, mostly eagles, hawks and owls.

The majority of these birds are released back into the wild. Those that don't regain this ability are placed in new homes in zoos or other sanctuaries.

The Tlingit Community Center where clan-sanctioned dances are performed.

                                     A Tlingit family still lives in this home.

                                               A ceremonial Tlingit canoe.

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