Murder Cove to Baranof Warm Springs. July 11, 2013
24 July 2013 | posted at Craig
Photo: Murder Cove, Admiralty Island
When I was writing Glacier, Bears and Totems, I wanted to visit Murder Cove on the south tip of Admiralty Island,. I thought the cove’s history would yield some interesting stories, but it was always too far out of our way or we didn’t have time to stop.
The name Murder Cove comes from an incident that took place shortly after the U.S. bought Alaska. A Kake Indian shot and killed two white men there in recompense for the loss of his brother, killed by the military in Sitka. His action set the military on a rampage of destroying Kake villages. Then, in 1901, the cove was the site of an industrial whaling center and later a major fish processing plant was located there. And finally, much of the book the Cheechakoes by Wayne Short took place there.
This year we would be going right by Murder Cove on our way from Kake to Baranof Warm Springs on the west side of Chatham Strait so I saw the opportunity to finally get there.
It was a windless sunny day and we easily found our way through the rocks outside the cove. As we motored up to the head of the cove, flies started buzzing the cockpit. Steve grabbed a fly swatter and started swatting but more kept coming.
I expected either old cannery ruins -- or nothing at all -- in the cove so I was surprised to see what looked like a resort hotel complete with balconies. But as we got close, I could see the windows were blank and the building appeared to be not quite level. A number of small buildings sat nearby in various stages of deterioration. A blue house was the only building that appeared in good shape. Through the binoculars I could see a woman standing at the window looking back at me.
Steve was swatting flies and trying to figure out where to anchor. Suddenly he put the engine in reverse and the rudder hard over; the water depth had gone from too deep to too shallow in a few feet.
“I can’t read the chart plotter; there are too many flies!”
I looked around at the abandoned hotel and the miscellaneous buildings. It didn’t look very attractive. And if there were any vestiges of the old cannery there, they were well hidden. There was a story here all right, but I decided I didn’t need to know it.
“Let’s just leave,” I told Steve. “There’s time to get to Warm Springs tonight.”
“Yes!” said Steve as he turned Osprey around and headed out. “If there’s not room on the dock, we can anchor out.”
Two hours later, we were there. We even got to sail part way. And there was plenty of room at the dock -- and time to visit the bath house that night. No stories there, but no flies either.