Castle Hill
Baranof Castle State Historic Site
United States
AK 99835

The history of Sitka.

The Kiksadi Clan of the Tlingit Indians had lived in and around Sitka centuries before the Russians or Americans ever set foot on the island's rocky shores. Choosing the seaward side of the island they named Shee, the Tlingits called their settlement Shee Atika, meaning "people on the outside of Shee". The name Sitka is merely a contraction.

The Tlingits thrived undisturbed on their island paradise until 1799, when the Russians arrived. It wasn't long before Alexander Baranof, Manager of the Russian-American Company, established a fort a few miles North of the present day Sitka. The Tlingits grew immediately hostile, understanding that submission to the Russians meant allegiance to the Tzar and slave labor to the fur trade company. Their suspicions turned to violence, when the Tlingits finally attacked the Russian outpost in 1802, killing nearly all of the Russians and their Aleut slaves.

Two years later Baranof retaliated. For six days, the island Natives fought gallantly, but were out-gunned and exited silently into the night. The Russians renamed the settlement New Archangel. Russian Orthodox Church clergy soon took up residency and fortress-like structures systematically replaced clan houses atop a shore side hill, a site later known as Castle Hill.

The fur-trade flourished and the Russian-American Company became the most profitable fur trader in the world. By mid-century, however, over hunting had diminished the number of sea otters, and thus the Russian interest in the new world. In 1867, the Russians sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million with a transfer ceremony that took place in Sitka on October 18 of that year.

Castle Hill is a rock outcrop, about 60 feet (18 m) in height. It is also known as the Baranof Castle State Historic Site. It occupies a prominent position on the edge of Sitka Harbour, although it is now set back from the sea by several hundred feet due to fill added around its southern and western faces in 1968. The most likely provenance for the Russian Cannon on Castle Hill is that it was salvaged from the wreck of the Neva. The battleship Neva left Russia for the Alaska territory in August, 1812, and sank off Sitka on January 9, 1813, during a storm near Cape Edgecumbe. Thirty-nine seamen drowned. Twenty-eight others made it to shore alive, according to Orriene Denslow, curator of the Isabel Miller Museum and member of the Sitka Historical Society. When Alaska was admitted as the 49th U.S. state in 1959, Castle Hill was the location where the first 49-star U.S. flag in Alaska was raised, though the ceremony was unofficial and secret. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1966. In 1965 a stone parapet was constructed on the hill, and interpretive plaques were added to a display of six cannons and a flagpole. The property is now administered as part of the Alaska state park system.

Website: Click Here


Click to discover this grotto


Access on Foot, Part of a larger tourism attraction


Coastal, Park or Garden


Located outside the United Kingdom


Crimean Cannon Location, past or present

(C)Copyright The Spas Research Fellowship. To contact the SRF, email: srf@thespas.co.uk or mail to: Tower House, Tower Road, Tadworth, Surrey. KT20 5QY. UK