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Aleutian World War II National Historic Area

Aleutian World War II National Historic Area - BEST Places to Picnic

Ounalashka Corporation
P.O. Box 149
Unalaska, AK 99685
- or -
Alaska Affiliated Areas
240 West 5th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501

Visitor Information (907) 581-1276
Visitor Center (907) 581-9944

WELCOME to the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area

Perched on Mount Ballyhoo in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the concrete remains of the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area speak silently of a time of war. This magical place was the stage for two American tragedies: here, servicemen fought both the Japanese and the extreme weather, as hundreds of native Unangan people were interned a thousand miles away, longing to return to their island homes.

The Aleutian Campaign

For fifteen arduous months, American forces in the Aleutians suffered through Arctic gales, bitter cold, and painful isolation as they fought to eject the Japanese from Attu and Kiska islands. The Aleutian Campaign claimed thousands of lives and culminated in one of the deadliest battles in the Pacific.

Unangan (Aleut) Evacuation and Internment

In a tragic and shameful episode, the U.S. government forcibly removed nearly 900 Unangan (Aleut) people from their homes in the Aleutian and Pribilof islands in 1942. These innocent civilians were taken to Southeast Alaska and placed in internment camps, where they spent the next three years in squalid and appalling conditions.

Birthplace of Winds, Cradle of Storms: The Aleutian Islands

On the map, the Aleutian archipelago appears as a series of stepping stones stretching from Alaska to Siberia. At the northern edge of the Ring of Fire, these volcanic islands rise steeply from the waters of the North Pacific and the Bering Sea. The richness of the flora and fauna is unparalleled. Learn more about this remarkable corner of the world here.

The park is located on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Island Chain, 800 miles west of Anchorage, the nearest large urban center. It can be reached by air through commercial and charter flights from Anchorage.

The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area encompasses the historic footprint of the U.S. Army base Fort Schwatka. Located on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Island Chain of Alaska, the fort was one of four coastal defense posts built to protect Dutch Harbor (the back door to the United States) during World War II, the fort is also highest coastal battery ever constructed in the United States.

The Aleutian World War II Visitor Center is located at the Unalaska airport, within walking distance of both the cruise ship dock and the Grand Aleutian Hotel. It is owned and operated by the Ounalashka Corporation and affiliated to the National Park Service.

The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area follows the historic footprint of the U.S. Army Fort Schwatka located at Ulakta Head on Mount Ballyhoo. The fort is one of four coastal defense posts built in 1942 and 1943 to protect the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base. 

The army built over a hundred buildings at Fort Schwatka. At 897 feet above sea level, the installations on Mount Ballyhoo were the highest coastal defenses built in the United States. The fort was named for Lt. Frederick Schwatka, who conducted several military surveys of Alaska, including Unalaska, in the 1880s. 

Engineers designed the concrete observation posts and command stations to withstand earthquakes and 100 mile-per-hour winds. The fort overlooks Dutch Harbor and was key to its protection. Although today, many of the bunkers and wooden structures of Fort Schwatka have collapsed, the gun mounts and lookouts are among the most intact in the country.

Visitors to the area may explore the remaining structures and ruins, and sense the scope of the War effort mounted in the Aleutians to protect the United States from the Japanese invasion.

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