Funter Bay History: 1920s Cannery Postcards

I recently came across a batch of postcards showing Funter Bay in the 1920s. These appear to have come from the estate of someone associated with the cannery. I was able to purchase several of these, and was generously given permission to use copies of the others here.

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It is not clear which of these were commercially-sold postcards and which were private photos printed on postcard stock. “Real Photo Post Cards“, or “RPPCs” enabled people to make a postcard from any photo. Kodak began offering pre-printed postcard stock early in the 1900s, and Federal law allowed postcards with written messages on the back in 1907. Some RPPCs were mass produced and some were unique prints by private individuals. Some of the cards in this set are labeled, dated, and/or have a photographers name, but most are unlabeled. Based on what I can identify of the people and vessels depicted, the dates range from around 1918 to the early 1920s.

The following map helps place some of these photos. This is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service records from the National Archives, showing the cannery in 1942. The general layout is much the same as it was in the 1920s, with only minor changes. The 1929 Aerial photo that I previously posted is also helpful.

1942 Cannery map

Below is a colorized version of the first photo above. This view looks out over the cannery buildings from near the Native employees’ houses. The main wharf with long packing and warehouse buildings are seen, along with the twin chimneys of the boiler house. Bunkhouses and residences are in the foreground, with the mess hall and company store near the middle.

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The next photo shows an open area behind the mess hall and bunkhouses. Boardwalks lead between buildings, with what appear to be vegetable gardens on either side. Stacks of firewood are seen along the boardwalk, with long logs split into quarters. Clothes are hung to dry on the left of the nearest boardwalk, the laundry and bath house was located just off-camera to the left. The building on the far right is probably the repair shop which still stands today, behind it is the Superintendent’s house and just to the left of it are homes for managers and guests (one of these has also been referred to as a schoolhouse).

gardens

Below is a photo of the summer housing for Tlingit cannery workers. This is sometimes referred to as a village, although other accounts state that it was not occupied year-round. These structures were later demolished to make way for saltery buildings. Several canoes and a motor launch are visible.

village

A more distant view of the “village” shows its relationship to the cannery buildings (at left):

village2

A smaller photo or print shows a boat at the cannery’s floating dock, with Mt. Robert Barron in the background. This seems to have been taken from near the bunkhouse which sat partly over the high tide line:

boat

Two more photos show the floating dock from the other direction, taken at different stages of the tide with different small boats at the dock. A sign on the approach ramp appears to read “Private Float, no gas boats allowed”. The bottom photo shows scows with rolls of netting or fencing in the front, likely fish trap materials. Some of the boats seen in prior photos are moored to pilings in the background:

float float2

The next photo shows a higher angle view of the float approach and bunkhouse, maybe from the mast of a ship. The cannery’s wooden water tank is visible in the background. The cleared area between the tank and buildings would later hold the Chinese and Filipino bunkhouses. The company store is on the left. An interesting feature is the narrow ramp extending from the rear of the store into the water. This was the cannery’s trash chute where garbage was dumped into the bay. The base of this chute was very popular for bottle hunting at low tide in later years!

store

The next photo shows the rear of one of the waterfront buildings. A scow is moored to a piling in the middle ground, with the mountain shrouded in clouds behind. This may be from 1919:

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The next image also looks out over the cannery buildings, Mt. Robert Barron is in the background:

overview

And finally, a view out over Funter Bay to the South, showing Station Island (two sections, one forested), Rat Island, and Bare Island (low rock at left). Clear Point is on the right, and Chichagof Island’s mountains are visible in the distance:

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2 Responses to Funter Bay History: 1920s Cannery Postcards

  1. Sharon Skarda says:

    Great photos Gabe…thanks!

  2. […] I recently received a few Funter Bay images from Michael and Carolyn Nore, collectors of historic Alaska postcards and photos. These show some of the Thlinket Packing Co’s operations between about 1914 and 1920. Most are prior to 1918 (based on the cards used), but some are from the same summer as the photos seen previously in this post. […]

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