Thorne Bay

“Be a community that provides high paying jobs that retain families.”
The bay was named after Frank Manley Thorn, superintendent of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey from 1885 through 1889. The name was misspelled when published. The first major settlement was built around the logging operation of Wes Davidson. Thorne Bay developed as a result of a long-term timber sales contract between the U.S. Forest Service and the Ketchikan Pulp Company. In 1960 a floating logging camp was built in Thorne Bay. In 1962 Ketchikan Pulp moved its main logging camp from Hollis to Thorne Bay. A shop, barge terminal, log sort yard, and camp were built to replace facilities at Hollis. Roads were then constructed to connect Thorne Bay with Hollis, Craig, and Klawock. During this time, it was considered the largest logging camp in North America. Thorne Bay evolved from a company-owned logging camp to an incorporated city in 1982, partly due to the land selection program provided for in the Alaska Statehood Act.
Today employment is still primarily in small sawmills and U.S. Forest Service, with some commercial fishing, tourism and local government employment. Thorne Bay is one of the log transfer sites on the Island. To supplement incomes, residents fish and trap. Deer, salmon, halibut, shrimp and crab are popular food sources

Location & Climate

Thorne Bay is 47 air miles northwest of Ketchikan on the east coast of Prince of Wales Island. On the island road system, it lies 60 miles from Hollis and 36 miles east of the Klawock Junction. It lies at approximately 55.687780 North Latitude and -132.522220 West Longitude.  (Sec. 12, T071S, R084E, Copper River Meridian.)   Thorne Bay is located in the Ketchikan Recording District.  The area encompasses 25.5 sq. miles of land and 4.8 sq. miles of water.  Prince of Wales Island is dominated by a cool, moist, maritime climate. Summer temperatures range from 49 to 63 °F and winter temperatures from 32 to 42 °F. Average annual precipitation is 120 inches, with 40 inches of snow. *State of AK, DOT AMHS.

2010 Population

471 (US Census)


2nd Class City incorporated in 1982. The City currently employs 13 staff members. Regular elections are held every 1st Tuesday in October. City Council meets every 1st and 3rd Tuesdays. The current city sales tax is 6%.

Electric Utility

Alaska Power Company (Private). Power source: hydro with diesel back-up. Kilowatt capacity: 2,025. In November of 2010 the small commercial rate for 1,500kWh/month was $0.1320.with a monthly fee of $12.93 (JEDC Asset Mapping Report)

Water & Sewer Utilities

Water Lake, north of Thorne Bay, supplies water, which is treated and stored in a tank before piped distribution. The gravity sewage system includes secondary treatment before discharge into the Bay. Approximately 75% of households are connected to the piped systems and are fully plumbed. Residents on the south side of the community use rain catchment, streams or springs.

Solid Waste

The City provides refuse collection services, a regional baler, a recycling facility and landfill, and participates in annual hazardous waste disposal events.

Transportation Facilities

A breakwater, dock, small boat harbor and grid, boat launch and State-owned seaplane base are available. The State Highway provides access to most other Prince of Wales communities. A runway and ferry terminal is available on Prince of Wales Island.

Transportation Services

Accessible via float/sea plane and small water craft. Access to the State/City Highway provides service to IFA ferry terminal in Hollis and most of the other communities on the Island.


Thorne Bay School is in the Southeast Island Schools District K-12. Enrollment in the 2010-11 school year was 67. Student-teacher ratio: 6.9:1.

Health Care

Thorne Bay Health Center is operated by SEARHC. Thorne Bay Volunteer Rescue Squad/EMS. Community Health Aid Program CHAP site. Emergency service is provided by volunteers.

Other Community Buildings

City Public Safety Facility, Bay Chalet, School Gym, School Library, City Library.

Community Economic Development Projects

A list of Economic Development Projects was not submitted for the 2011 year.