1st Class City
in the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (pell' ih kun)
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Geography and Climate
- Pelican is located on the northwest coast of Chichagof Island on Lisianski Inlet. It lies 80 miles north of Sitka and 70 miles west of Juneau. Pelican is located 10 miles down Lisianski Inlet from its mouth at Cross Sound. Most of the community is built on pilings over the tidelands. Sunnyside and Phonograph are two residential areas on either side of Pelican with close ties to the community.
- Pelican has a maritime climate characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 51 to 62 °F; winter temperatures range from 21 to 39 °F. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -3 to 84 °F. Annual precipitation averages 127 inches, with 120 inches of snow. During winter months, fog, high winds, and high seas can limit access.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Pelican, about 100 miles west of Juneau, began as a commercial fishing town. A cold storage plant was the first development at this site in 1938 when a fish buyer from Sitka, Kalle (Charley) Raataikainen, began buying fish in this area. He chose this protected inlet as an ideal cold storage site and named the place after his fish-packing vessel "The Pelican." Two of his fish-buying scows were used as a cookhouse, mess hall, bunkhouse, and warehouse, and the community of Pelican grew around this operation. A store, office, sawmill, post office, and sauna had been erected by 1939. A school and cannery were developed in the 1940s, and the city was formed in 1943. At its peak, the cold storage plant processed over 5 million pounds of salmon and halibut annually. The commercial fishing fleet was made up mostly of family boats. Many of the local residents commercial fished, and some still fish today. The cold storage plant closed in 2009 and has not reopened. Shortly after it closed, the City of Pelican purchased the fish plant, fuel dock and accompanying properties from Kake Tribal Corporation. In recent years, a few locally owned sport charter operations have opened.
- Pelican, Alaska, was a thriving fishing community until the 1990s, when the industry took a dramatic turn leading to closure of the fish processing plant in 2009. However, fishing is still a vital part of Pelican's culture. There is a healthy run of King Salmon and Coho in the waters near Pelican. Halibut fishing is likewise good, as it is for other saltwater game fish. The town's motto is "Closest to the Fish." Most people in Pelican rely on subsistence resources as an important part of their lifestyle. The community has increased activity in the visitor industry and from recreational boaters. There is a seasonal population influx of commercial fishermen and seasonal residents. Recently there has been discussion about building a fish hatchery within the City boundaries, and a streamside incubation project is underway at Pelican Creek. The City recently installed two new 20 ton commercial ice machines at the fish house. A 3 year contract has been signed with a private entity to operate the ice machines, sell ice, and buy fish across the dock at the fish house. The State of Alaska recently completed the construction of a new ferry terminal.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Sewer, Refuse Collection, Landfill/Incinerator, Health Clinic, Volunteer Fire/EMS, Harbor/Dock, Library, Community Hall, School, Coastal Management, Pelican Fuel Dock
- Pelican is dependent on float planes and the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry for travel. Daily scheduled air taxi services are available from Juneau. Facilities include a small boat harbor with a seaplane dock and state ferry terminal. The ferry provides two monthly departures to Juneau during summer months and one monthly departure during winter. According to a survey conducted by the AFSC in 2011, water taxi service is also available to Pelican. Barge service is available only on an as-needed basis. During winter months, fog, high winds, and high seas can limit access to the community. No paved roads are present in Pelican, and a boardwalk serves as the town's main thoroughfare due to the lack of flat land.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District
- Incorporation Type
- 1st Class City