Petersburg is located on the north end of Mitkof Island, where the
Wrangell Narrows meet Frederick Sound. It lies midway between Juneau and
Ketchikan, about 120 miles from either community. It lies at
approximately 56░ 48' N Latitude, 132░ 58' W Longitude (Sec. 27, T058S,
R079E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the
Petersburg Recording District. The area encompasses 43 sq. miles of land
and 5 sq. miles of water.
Indians from Kake utilized the north end of Mitkof Island as a summer
fish camp. Some reportedly began living year-round at the site,
including John Lot. Petersburg was named after Peter Buschmann, a
Norwegian immigrant and a pioneer in the cannery business, who arrived
in the late 1890s. He built the Icy Strait Packing Company cannery, a
sawmill, and a dock by 1900. His family's homesteads grew into this
community, populated largely by people of Scandinavian origin. By 1920,
600 people lived in Petersburg year-round. During this time, fresh
salmon and halibut were packed in glacier ice for shipment. Alaska's
first shrimp processor, Alaska Glacier Seafoods, was founded in 1916. A
cold storage plant was built in 1926. The cannery has operated
continuously, and is now known as Petersburg Fisheries, a subsidiary of
Icicle Seafoods, Inc. Across the narrows is the town of Kupreanof, which
was once busy with fur farms, a boat repair yard and a sawmill.
Petersburg has developed into one of Alaska's major fishing communities.