In July 1741, Vitus Bering, commanding the vessel St. Peter, made the
first recorded Russian landing in Alaska when he landed on Kayak Island
just east of Prince William Sound. Thirty seven years later, Captain
James Cook entered Prince William Sound commanding the English vessel
Resolution while on a voyage seeking the Northwest Passage. During that
brief visit, Cook gave the Sound and many of its geographic features
their present names.
In 1785, a party of 52 Russians, 11 Aleuts, and 110 Koniags set out
in skin boats from the Russian outpost at Kodiak for Prince William
Sound. They established a small post at Nuchek and began a profitable
trade with the Chugach.
The United States purchase of Russian America in 1867 opened Alaska
to American traders and military expeditions. The Alaska Commercial
Company acquired the holdings of the Russian American Company, including
the trading post at Nuchek.
The development of fisheries and the gold rush led to the establishment
of new Euro-American settlements in the Sound and the decline of Nuchek.
A Captain Sands, working for the Pacific Packing Company which was financed
by a subsidiary of the Alaska Commerical Company, constructed the first
cannery in the Sound in 1887 at Odiak. Located near the present site
of Cordova, this cannery was known as the Odiak Cannery. In 1888, Captina
OJ Humprhey of the Pacific Steam Whaling Company of San Francisco built
a competing ccannery at Odiak. As commercial fishing exploited the abundant
salmon runs in the area, Odiak became a thriving town of 200 people
in the 1890s.