1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sitka

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SITKA (formerly New Archangel), a city and historically the most notable settlement of Alaska, on the W. coast of Baranof Island, in Sitka Sound, in lat. 57° 03′ N. and long. 135° 19′ W. (from Greenwich), and about 100 m. S.S.W. of Juneau. Pop. (1890) 1193 (300 white and 893 natives); (1900) 1396. It is served by steamer from Seattle, Washington; there is cable connexion with the United States, and a six-day mail service from Pacific ports, via Juneau. The city is prettily situated on an island-studded and mountain-locked harbour, with a background of forest and snow-capped mountain cones; an extinct volcano, Mt Edgecumbe (3467 ft.), on Kruzof Island, is a conspicuous landmark in the bay. Sitka's mean annual temperature is 2° higher than that of Ottawa, and its climate is more equable. The mean annual temperature is about 43° F.; the monthly means range from 33° (January) to 56° (August), and the extreme recorded temperature from -4° to 87° F. Two-thirds of the days of the year are cloudy; on about 208 days in the year it rains or snows; the normal rainfall is 88.1 in., the extreme recorded rainfall (in 1886) is 140.26 in. The city includes an American settlement and an adjoining Indian village. In addition to U.S. government buildings (marine hospital and barracks, agricultural experiment station, wireless telegraph station and magnetic observatory), there are two public schools (one for whites and one for Thlinkets), the Sheldon Jackson (ethnological) Museum, which is connected with the Presbyterian Industrial Training School, a parochial school of the Orthodox Greek (Russian) Church, a Russian-Greek Church, built in 1816, and St Peter's-by-the-Sea, a Protestant Episcopal mission, built in 1899. Sitka is the see of a Greek Catholic and of a Protestant Episcopal bishop. In its early history it was the leading trading post of Alaska. After the discoveries of gold in the last decade of the 19th century it wholly lost its commercial primacy, but business improved after the discovery of gold in 1905 on Chicagoff Island, about 50 m. distant. There is a very slight lumber industry; salmon fisheries are of greater importance. In the surrounding region there are gold and silver mines.

Old Sitka or Fort Archangel Gabriel, about 6 m. from the present town, was founded in May 1799. The fort was overwhelmed by the Thlinkets in 1802, but was recaptured by the Russians in September 1804. The settlement was removed at this time by Alexander Baranof to the present site. Thereafter until 1867 it was the chief port and (succeeding Kodiak) the seat of government of Russian America; it is still the headquarters of the Assistant Orthodox Greek bishop of the United States. The formal transfer of Alaska from Russian to American possession took place at Sitka on the 18th of October 1867. During the next ten years Alaska was governed by the department of war, and Sitka was an army post. It was the seat of government of Alaska until 1906, when Juneau became the capital.