Web posted Wednesday, May 8, 2002

photo: people

 
Fourth of July is one of many drawing cards to Seldovia every summer.

Seldovia (Home of 307 friendly people and a few old crabs)


Before the Sterling Highway was built, Seldovia was the social and economic heart of lower Cook Inlet and one of Alaska's busiest seaports. Many of the state's pioneers took their first steps in Alaska along its wandering, half-mile boardwalk, past the bustling canneries. Boats carrying mail and supplies to the sleepy farming community of Homer were little noticed in the wild city of Seldovia.

Now, thanks in part to the 1964 earthquake, the roles are reversed and Seldovia is a quiet fishing village. Nestled among the craggy mountains on the south side of Kachemak Bay and isolated from the road system, Seldovia is in some ways a holdover from earlier times. Residents rely on their natural surroundings for livelihood and the pace of life is easier than in today's mechanized cities.

The town is scaled to the pedestrian and oriented to the water. The houses are old and the setting spectacular. Seldovia is the best of what Alaska was. Yet for the visitor, Seldovia is more than a quaint atmosphere. Fishing, clamming, berry picking and hiking are a few steps away from any street in this secluded, charming town. For more information, visit www.seldovia.com. For walking maps or additional information, contact the chamber at seldovia@xyz.net, or (907) 234-7525.

How to get there

Numerous charter vessels and water taxis serve Seldovia, as does the Alaska ferry Tustumena. For those with their own boat, there is always space in the Seldovia harbor for transient tie-ups. Air taxi operators also will fly you to the 1,845-foot gravel runway at the city airport, which has tie-downs for private airplanes. Seldovia has lodging, bed-and-breakfast establishments, as well as tour companies and taxi service.

What to do

A visitor information center is located in Synergy Artworks, across the street from the small boat harbor. A walking map is available at many of the unique gift shops and businesses in the area. Visitors can enjoy pottery, jewelry, books, paintings, prints, leather goods, craft items, T-shirts and more at these stores while gathering information about the community. There is also a town directory sign next to the ramp at the small boat harbor. Artifacts can be seen in two of the gift stores, and there is a museum on Anderson Way.

The Fourth of July is the biggest day of the year for Seldovia, which swells as hundreds of visitors flock to the city-wide party. Activities include a parade downtown, canoe jousting and log rolling, egg toss, foot race, games and food booths. It's an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration. Call 234-7612 for up-to-date information on the activities.

Exploring Seldovia on foot is the best way to discover the city's charm. Standing in the center of town, you are in the area rebuilt after the Good Friday earthquake of 1964. The quake dropped the whole town more than three feet. Historic houses perch on the rocks and on pilings above the water.

The Russian Orthodox Church is another Seldovia landmark. It stands on a small promontory in the center of town. Built in 1891, the church was restored in 1981 and is still in use today.

Outside Beach is a favorite place for beachcombing and cookouts, and you stand a good chance of seeing eagles, otters and sea birds. Follow Anderson Way (Jakolof Bay Road) out of town to the fork at Mile 1 and turn left. A walk along the beach will bring you to an archway that is the entrance to the RV and Wilderness Park. Wander up the trail and glance over the cliff to the water below. The view is breathtaking.

Be sure to experience the Otterbahn Hiking Trail, built in 1990 by Seldovia school students. The 1.2-mile trail begins at the school and winds through woods, alder thickets and meadow before reaching a tidal lagoon. A new boardwalk spans the lagoon and brings hikers to the ocean. A short beach walk at low tide connects the trail to the Outside Beach.

Along Main Street and elsewhere, look for the 12 signs that make up Seldovia's self-guided outdoor museum. These beautifully crafted, informative signs point out interesting facts about Seldovia's chronological and natural history.

Camping

For information about Seldovia Wilderness Park, check at the Seldovia city office, 234-7643. Recreational vehicle parking along Main Street is restricted. Check at the harbormaster's office or city office for information on where to park. Public restrooms are behind the harbormaster's office and at Outside Beach. Pay telephones are next to the harbor office and the Seldovia city office. Showers are available at Harbor Laundromat, across from the harbormaster.

Fishing

Fishing is the reason Seldovia exists, and the principal summer pasttime. Catch king salmon in Seldovia Bay from late May to mid-July. From the beaches you can catch pink salmon, Dolly Varden and flounder. Chum salmon run up Seldovia Slough, and silvers show up in August. Try the Outside Beach or the coves toward the head of Seldovia Bay for salmon. You can also get a halibut or salmon charter out of Seldovia. Fishing licenses and tackle can be purchased at several Seldovia businesses.

Other activities

The road that runs from town to Jakolof Bay makes a good ride on a mountain bike -- but a long day in the saddle. Berries are ubiquitous around Seldovia, and include fat salmonberries, blueberries and raspberries. Late July to mid-September is the time for berry picking, but be sure you have permission of the land owner before starting in.

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