The City and Borough of Yakutat (/ˈjækətæt/, YAK-ə-tat) (Tlingit: Yaakwdáat) is a borough in the U.S. state of Alaska and was the name of a former city within it. The name is Tlingit, Yaakwdáat ("the place where canoes rest") but it originally derives from an Eyak name diyaʼqudaʼt and was influenced by the Tlingit word yaakw ("canoe, boat"). The borough covers an area about six times the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island, making it one of the largest counties (or county equivalents) in the United States.
The original settlers in the Yakutat area are believed to have been Eyak-speaking people from the Copper River area. Tlingits migrated into the area and assimilated the Eyaks before the arrival of Europeans in Alaska. Yakutat was only one of a number of Tlingit and mixed Tlingit-Eyak settlements in the region, although all the others have been depopulated or abandoned.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, English, French, Spanish and Russian explorers came to the region. The Shelikhov-Golikov Company, precursor of the Russian-American Company, built a fort in Yakutat in 1795 to facilitate trade in sea otter pelts. It was known as New Russia, Yakutat Colony, or Slavorossiya. When the Russians cut off access to the fisheries nearby, a Tlingit war party attacked and destroyed the fort.
A cannery, another sawmill, a store and a railroad were constructed from 1903 by the Stimson Lumber Company. Many people moved to the current site of Yakutat to be closer to the Stimson cannery, which operated through 1970. During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) stationed a large aviation garrison near Yakutat and built a paved runway. The troops were withdrawn after the war but the runway is still in use as Yakutat Airport, which offers scheduled airline service.
Fishing is currently the largest economic activity in Yakutat.
Yakutat Tlingit Tribe (YTT) received a Language Preservation Grant from the Administration for Native Americans in 2004. With this, they have reinvigorated their efforts to teach the Tlingit language to middle-aged and young people. YTT received another ANA grant in 2007 and is expanding its role in the schools. All the YTT Tlingit language revitalization work focuses on using communicative approaches to second language teaching, such as TPR and ASLA.
While working at a local cannery from 1912 to 1941, Seiki Kayamori extensively photographed Yakutat and its area. A large set of prints of his work is held by Yakutat City Hall.
John N. Cobb, founder of the University of Washington College of Fisheries, was a photographer in his own right.
He specialized in the documentation of fisheries in the United States, especially those in Alaska and the Pacific Coast.
Among the photographs included in this digital collection are images of salmon, halibut and cod fisheries along the West Coast, whaling activities in Alaska, clamming and oystering industries in Washington, and images reflecting the first 6 or 7 years of the University of Washington College of Fisheries.
Also included are photos of cities and landscapes from Cobb's travels.
Locomotive of the Yakutat and Southern Railway Co. in Yakutat, September 1, 1907 by John M. Cobb
Yakutat Birds: There are over 200 species listed on eBird
Yakutat Fish: Pacific Salmon, Chinook, Coho, Chum, and Pink Salmon. Trout: Char, Cutthroat and Rainbow.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 9,463 square miles (24,510 km2), of which 7,649 square miles (19,810 km2) is land and 1,813 square miles (4,700 km2) is water. The 2010 census also defines a smaller census-designated place named Yakutat which has a total area of 104.1 square miles (269.6 km2), of which 100.5 square miles (260.3 km2) is land and 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) is water.
Yakutat borders the Gulf of Alaska to the west, Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska to the northwest, Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, Alaska to the southeast, Stikine Region, British Columbia to the northeast-east and Yukon Territory to the north.
One unique feature in the Borough is Hubbard Glacier, North America's largest tide-water glacier. In 1986 and 2002, the glacier blocked the entrance to Russell Fiord. The resulting Russell Lake rose 83 and 61 feet, until the glacial dam failed. If Russell Lake rises to 135 feet, the water will spill over a pass and flow into the Situk River. This will have a major impact on a world-class fishery. Yakutat will not be impacted unless the glacier advances to the townsite, which could take a thousand years. The vegetation in the area indicates that water was flowing over the pass until about 1860.
Yakutat has a subarctic climate (Dfc) but with characteristics such as high precipitation, absence of frozen soil and temperate rainforest vegetation of the subpolar oceanic climate zone of the Pacific Coast. It rivals Ketchikan as the wettest "city" in the United States, with an annual precipitation (1981−2010 normals) of 155 inches (3.94 m), which falls on 240 days of the year, including 150 inches (381 cm) of snow, almost all of it falling from November through April, that occurs on 64 days annually. (However, with an annual precipitation of 197.8 inches (5.02 m), the city of Whittier receives significantly more annual precipitation than both Yakutat and Ketchikan, which makes it the wettest city in Alaska and the United States, and Yakutat and Ketchikan the second- and third-wettest cities in Alaska, respectively.) September and October represent, on average, the year's primary "rainy season," with an average of over 20 inches of precipitation both months. On average, the year's driest period is late April through July, though no month qualifies as a true "dry season." The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 28.1 °F (−2.2 °C) in January to 54.4 °F (12.4 °C) in July. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −24 °F (−31 °C) on December 30, 1964 up to 88 °F (31 °C) on August 15, 2004, though there are typically 4.9 days of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows and only 4 days of 70 °F (21 °C)+ highs annually. Unlike in South Central Alaska, a day with a subzero (°F) high has never been recorded.