Aleutian World War II National Historic Area
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
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
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.