Funter Bay History – Cannery Ruins

Again I must mention that most of these buildings (including the tumbledown ones) are privately owned. Locals are watchful and not enthusiastic about trespassing. Please respect private property.

Following are some of my photos of the remains of Funter Bay cannery buildings in the 1990s and 2000s. I sometimes refer to Funter as a ghost town, and the remains certainly have that feel. The cannery was actually large enough to earn a designation as a small town, albeit a company town with mostly seasonal population.

I’ll start out with the overview map of the property, as surveyed in 1964 (large file!):Cannery Detail 1964

Most maps call the cannery “Funter”, as this was the location of the post office through much of the 20th century. I find it odd that the inset location map on the above survey has the name “Funter” moved away from the cannery and towards the area between Nimrod and Second Creeks. There even appears to be a small square marked (which could just be a compression artifact). That spot would be “Shorty’s Cabin” (which I’ll detail in another post). It would be strange to show the location of the town being the smallest building in the bay, unless it’s some kind of surveyor’s joke!

Onward to the photos!

Below is the remains of one of the large two-story bunkhouses at the cannery. This one was the Filipino house shown on the map.
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A building on the West side of the property. I’m not actually sure what this was originally used for, but it seems to have been lived in at one point (there was a stove and a supply of firewood) and it had become a storage warehouse later on:
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Inside the warehouse building is a random collection of “stuff”. Barrels, old fishing gear, etc (no, American Pickers fans, there’s nothing *really* old left…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…Except for the wallpaper, which is old newspapers!
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These old papers coat the walls and ceiling of this building. The dates are around 1919, and publications include Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post.  The wallpapering was probably done to help keep out drafts, and maybe to make the interior look more interesting?
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Some of the small houses shown on the map behind the bunkhouses. These were probably for married workers who did not stay in the bunkhouses:0a-cabin1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA0a-cannery1 0a-cannery2

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These quonset huts were not original to the cannery, but were put up during WWII by the US Army to house evacuated Pribolof islanders. The quonset huts were of poor quality and have deteriorated faster than the original buildings. 0a-cannery3OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The remains of some slightly larger houses farther East. I believe these may have been the “Native Cabins” shown on the 1962 map (these could either be from the WWII Aleut internment, or earlier housing for Tlingit employees).
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A house that has collapsed flat, leaving a table exposed and showing part of the stovepipe:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This appears to be a chicken coop and fenced pen at one of the houses. Perhaps one of the managers or their family kept chickens? I would be dubious of the survival rate; between the weasels, otters, mink, marten, and all varieties of raptor, chickens would be a tasty snack for much of the local wildlife. We raised ducks when I was younger, and even with the ocean to flee to, they still got picked off frequently by local predators. There are also reports that someone raised fox, mink, or rabbits at the cannery in the 1950s.

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A more intact building, not marked on the map: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one seems to have been larger once, or possibly moved and/or rebuilt from a larger structure. One wall is cut away and re-boarded, and the roof sticks out over a missing piece of building:
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As you can see from the amount of decay and collapse, nature quickly reclaims artificial structures in Southeast Alaska. The high humidity and salinity, heavy  wet snow, and punishing winds will all chip away at a building. Spruce trees drop tons of cones and needles, which soon form a layer of soil on roofs where more plants can grow.  Second-growth trees like Alders grow quickly, with limbs and roots pushing at walls and foundations. Eventually the roof is gone or the walls are breached, and once water gets inside, it’s a quick progression into a pile of moldy wood. Eventually there’s just mound of moss and small plants in the bare outline of a building, with maybe an area of younger trees showing where a clearing once was.

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One Response to Funter Bay History – Cannery Ruins

  1. […] zoomed in on the main cannery property and labeled some of the structures below. (The 1960s survey map was helpful with […]

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