Early residents homesteaded in the area around the turn of the century, when it was known as West Petersburg. The first business in Kupreanof was a small sawmill started in 1911 by the Knudsen brothers. In its early years, the mill produced barrels for the salted fish that were shipped out of Petersburg. The Yukon Fur Farm began raising foxes in the early 1920s but shortly shifted to mink. It became the first mink farm in Alaska. During the 1920s, over 100 people resided in West Petersburg. In addition to the sawmill and commercial fishing operations, residents had a small store, a gaff hook factory, and several mink ranches. During the 1930s and 40s, a small ship repair facility, an outboard motor shop, commercial logging, a clam cannery, and a barrel-maker were operating. Although the Knudsen Mill and the Yukon Fur Farm continued into the 1960s, the economics of living on the island became more difficult. The population fell from 60 in 1950 to 26 in 1960. The population has since remained stable. Kupreanof was named after the island when it incorporated as a second-class city in 1975.
Today Kupreanof is a small, closely-knit non-Native community. All of the homes are built on the waterfront; there are no roads. Residents use skiffs to travel to Petersburg for schooling, goods and services.The majority of the working residents are self-employed. Some commute by boat to jobs in Petersburg. Subsistence and recreational uses of resources around Kupreanof supplement household incomes; deer, salmon, halibut, shrimp and crab are favorites. The City has no full-time staff, few services, and no public utilities. Kupreanof residents share an unusually well-defined lifestyle and community. It is a community where residents live in a rural low density setting, pay minimal taxes, receive few urban services, have minimal impact on their environment, and limited entrance from the outside world. Residents want to protect their environment from any changes which might infringe on existing lifestyles.
Location & Climate
Kupreanof is located on the northeast shore of Kupreanof Island, across the Wrangell Narrows from Petersburg and Mitkof Island. It lies about 120 miles south of Juneau and 120 miles north of Ketchikan. It lies at approximately 56.814440 North Latitude and -132.980560 West Longitude. (Sec. 29, T058S, R079E, Copper River Meridian.) Kupreanof is located in the Petersburg Recording District. The area encompasses 4.0 sq. miles of land and 2.1 sq. miles of water. Kupreanof is located in the maritime climate zone. Summer temperatures range 40 to 56 °F, and winter temperatures range from 27 to 43 °F. Precipitation averages 105 inches per year, with 93 inches of snow. *State of AK, DOT AMHS.
27 (US Census)
2nd Class City incorporated in 1975. Regular elections are held every 1st Tuesday in October. City Council meets the 2nd Sunday in winter months and the 2nd Wednesday in summer months. There is currently no city sales tax.
Individual diesel generators.
Water & Sewer Utilities
There are no public utilities in Kupreanof and no central electric. Residents pipe water from nearby creeks; individual septic tanks or pit privies are used for sewage disposal.
Household refuse is composted, recycled, burned and buried.
There are no community transportation facilities; small water craft are privately owned.
Accessible only by small boat. City relies on the City of Petersburg for access to air service and State-owned and operated Alaska Marine Highway System.
There is not a school located in the City of Kupreanof. Students transport independently to nearby Petersburg City Schools District.
Residents rely on services from Petersburg Medical Center in Petersburg. The medical center is accessible via skiff.
List of Projects
Development is exclusively residential. New houses are owner-built or custom-built. Housing is not contractor-financed.