Crusty old Joe's

Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum

by Dave Evans

A New Summer
June 13, 2004

As I stood waiting at the airport for a ride to Fort Abercrombie last week, a feeling of real exhilaration suddenly hit me. I think I may have hooted. Quietly and modestly. The trip from the Midwest had been long, with weather-related hitches; walking out that terminal door and suddenly being surrounded by the remembered coolness, the continuous blowing billowing mist, and that backdrop of green velvet mountains barely visible through the clouds felt just right.

I entered retirement from teaching college biology this spring. I now had enough time flexibility to arrive here a couple of weeks earlier than I have in previous summers. I can hear the hermit thrushes at Fort Abercrombie practicing their descending scales. The varied thrushes are ringing their telephones. They all need to get down to the business of nest-building and brood-rearing before the season passes them by.

The birds are busy, but I'm used to that almost desperate territorial and courting activity out here in the Sitka spruce rain forest. One of the visible differences that comes from my earlier arrival is that it got me here at an unfamiliar-to me--time in the Wildflower Meadow blooming sequence. I've never been at Fort Abercrombie before the Nootka lupines are in full flower. This year they've only started; instead, I'm greeted with purples in the Meadow: the shooting stars and rose purple orchis are at the peak of their short blooming seasons.

It's good to be back among friends at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. People here have been busy since last summer, and there have been some changes, both in the Park and at the Kodiak Military History Museum. The view from Miller Point has been restored to the way it was when the coastal battery was active in the 1940s. Removal of second-growth vegetation allows the eye an uninterrupted sweep of the horizon, and the effect is a majestic one. There are also new interpretive guides to seabirds and marine mammals posted at Miller Point. The Wildflower Meadow Trail has been upgraded and is more clearly marked. Improvements continue along the Lake Gertrude Trail.

A striking new display at the Kodiak Military History Museum shows an American GI and a US Navy Aviator in full uniform and gear. The uniformed mannequins have an effective authenticity about them, especially when one realizes that all the items displayed in the exhibit were actually worn by servicemen right here in World War II Kodiak. The Museum at the Miller Point Ready Ammunition Bunker has now started its summer hours: 1-4 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Admission is $3.00, with those 12 and under admitted free.

Our upcoming season will again feature the regular Saturday Naturalist series (Saturdays, 7pm, at the Park Visitor Center). The series leads off on Saturday June 19, and will feature a wildflower walk which I'll be leading. Look for schedules of the entire series posted around town and in the Daily Mirror. Regular activities at the Park will extend from now until Labor Day weekend.

There will be other scheduled activities through the course of the summer, including military history tours, in which we do walkthroughs of World War II Fort Abercrombie. Of course, we will be continuing the popular series of tidepool excursions. This is a perfect activity for all ages, even more enjoyable when the kids are along. The children often see more than the adults do, in any case! And the tidepool creatures, like all Kodiak Islanders, are active rain or shine.

Summer of 2004 promises to be a busy and active one at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. It's the best time to take advantage of this tremendous resource that's just down Rezanof Drive.

David A. Evans, Volunteer Naturalist
Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park Updated 2004 June 23