I recently received an oblique aerial photo from August of 1929, showing the Funter Bay cannery. This is part of a set of Navy survey photos of Alaska. A few other photos from this survey are online, and I hope to find more in archival collections.
At the time this was taken, the cannery was owned by Sunny Point Packing, and would operate for several more years before ending the main canning operation.
A few things are notable in the photo. The China Bunkhouse is only a foundation to the right of the Filipino Bunkhouse. Both “Oriental Bunkhouses” reportedly burned in 1929, so the Filipino Bunkhouse seen above is probably newly-rebuilt, with the China Bunkhouse in the process of rebuilding. Another notable feature is the long wharf and dolphins extending from the left side of the point. I had not been aware of this wharf’s existence before seeing the photo. My best guess is it was a fuel delivery wharf serving the bulk oil tank on the point. It would make sense to keep the oil handling facility separate from the fish handling dock. Yet another interesting feature are the two radio masts to the left and behind the Superintendent’s house. These would have supported a dipole wire antenna similar to the type shown here. I am not sure what kind of radio was in use at the time, the 1920s saw the beginning of “High Frequency) (3-30mhz) and voice technology, supplementing low frequency and morse code stations. Some photos and information on a cannery radio operator from Yakutat from around the same time period can be found here. The antenna masts were likely multi-step poles made by lashing logs together, in the same manner as a wooden ship’s mast. This allowed them to reach higher than the surrounding trees.
I’ve zoomed in on the main cannery property and labeled some of the structures below. (The 1960s survey map was helpful with this).
And for comparison, I’ve also included an aerial photo from a similar angle, taken in 2008. This is from a modern Alaska-wide aerial surveying project called Alaska Shorezone, a GIS mapping and aerial imagery project covering most of the coast (most photos in that set were taken at low tide, the 1929 image shows a higher tide).
The red house is a modern private residence, located approximately where the power plant stood. The green-roofed house is approximately where the mess hall stood. The only visible remains of the cannery in this photo are the floating dock and approach ramp (which have been updated and had sections replaced since 1929). The regrowth of spruce trees has obscured most of the formerly cleared land at the site.
I am very grateful to Mark Riley, Remote Sensing Coordinator for the Forest Service’s Alaska region, for tracking this down for me! I also received assistance from Shawn Younger, president of the WWII Archives Foundation, with another such photo. I may write about that one later.