Cordova is located at the southeastern end
of Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. The community was built
on Orca Inlet, at the base of Eyak Mountain. It lies 52 air miles
southeast of Valdez and 150 miles southeast of Anchorage. It lies at
approximately 60░ 33' N Latitude, 145░ 45' W Longitude (Sec. 28, T015S,
R003W, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Cordova
Recording District. The area encompasses 5 sq. miles of land and 2 sq.
miles of water.
area has historically been the home to Aleuts, with the addition of
migrating Athabascan and Tlingit natives who called themselves Eyaks.
Alaskan Natives of other descents also settled in Cordova. Orca Inlet
was originally named "Puerto Cordova" by Don Salvador Fidalgo in 1790.
One of the first producing oil fields in Alaska was discovered at
Katalla, 47 miles southeast of Cordova, in 1902. The town of Cordova was
named in 1906 by Michael Heney, builder of the Copper River and
Northwestern Railroad. Cordova became the railroad terminus and ocean
shipping port for copper ore from the Kennecott Mine up the Copper
River. The first trainload of ore was loaded onto the steamship
Northwestern, bound for a smelter in Tacoma, Washington, in April
1911. The Bonanza-Kennecott Mines operated until 1938 and yielded over
$200 million in copper, silver and gold. The Katalla oil field produced
until 1933, when it was destroyed by fire. Fishing became the economic
base in the early 1940s.