Cold Bay, Alaska
Aerial view of Cold Bay taken during the early 21st century.
Cold Bay Airport's runways are visible.
Location in Alaska
|Coordinates: 55°12′33″N 162°42′51″W|
|• Mayor||Dailey Schaack|
|• State senator||Lyman Hoffman (D-C)|
|• State rep.||Bryce Edgmon (I)|
|• Total||68.06 sq mi (176.26 km2)|
|• Land||53.41 sq mi (138.34 km2)|
|• Water||14.64 sq mi (37.92 km2)|
|Elevation||138 ft (42 m)|
|• Density||2.56/sq mi (0.99/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-8 (AKDT)|
|Area code||907 (local prefix: 532)|
|GNIS feature ID||1418448|
There is evidence of prehistoric occupation by Aleuts and later Russian encampments. Cold Bay's significance to American history began with the Japanese invasion of the Aleutians in World War II. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. ordered the creation of Fort Randall, an airbase on the shores of Cold Bay, in 1942 as a part of a general expansion of American assets in the Aleutians. It (along with Otter Point) served as a base for the 11th Air Force to provide protection to the only deep water port in the Aleutians at the time, Dutch Harbor.
This protection was necessary when during Yamamoto's Midway Campaign a diversionary attack was launched against Dutch Harbor. The initial attack was repulsed by the surprise presence of P-40s stationed here. A second larger attack with its own fighter escort the next day caused minor damage. Later, with the victory in the Pacific, the forces grew to 20,000 troops. The quonset huts used to house this massive encampment still stand around the community. It also was a base of operations for the US Navy with the seaplane tender USS Casco (AVP-12) among the ships based in Cold Bay.
In the spring and summer of 1945, Cold Bay was the site of the largest and most ambitious transfer program of World War II, Project Hula, in which the United States transferred dozens of ships and craft to the Soviet Union and trained Soviet personnel in their operation in anticipation of the Soviet Union entering the war against Japan.
In later decades, control of the airfield passed to civil authorities, who maintained it as a useful refueling and emergency landing location for great circle flights from the west coast of the United States to East Asia. A Distant Early Warning Line station established nearby was eventually decommissioned.
During the 1980s, deregulation of the airline industry under President Ronald Reagan caused many of the compelling interests supporting the need for the community to evaporate. Today, Cold Bay is still occasionally used for emergency or precautionary landings of commercial flights, and is also a hub for traffic from Anchorage and Seattle to the small communities around it.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 70.9 square miles (184 km2), of which, 54.4 square miles (141 km2) of it is land and 16.6 square miles (43 km2) of it (23.34%) is water.
Cold Bay has an either an ocean-moderated subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfc) if the 0 °C isotherm is used, or a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfc) if the −3 °C (26.6 °F) isotherm is used, both of those climate being typical of southwest Alaska, though the summers are almost cool enough to qualify as a tundra (Köppen climate classification: ET). Cold Bay is considered the cloudiest place in the United States, with an average of 304 days of heavy overcast (covering over 3/4 of the sky).
|Climate data for Cold Bay, Alaska (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1942–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||59
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||43.0
|Average high °F (°C)||32.9
|Average low °F (°C)||23.6
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||5.9
|Record low °F (°C)||−13
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.16
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||14.1
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch)||21.2||19.2||19.5||19.0||17.9||18.1||18.4||21.3||22.5||24.6||24.0||23.6||249.3|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch)||14.6||13.0||14.2||11.0||3.1||0.1||0||0||0.1||3.9||11.5||14.1||85.6|
|Average relative humidity (%)||84.3||83.5||82.8||82.5||83.5||86.3||88.3||89.5||86.4||82.8||83.5||86.3||85.0|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1961–1990)|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
Cold Bay first appeared on the 1890 U.S. Census as the unincorporated area of "Thin Point", which included Thin Point & Cold Bay (including two canneries and Cold Bay Salting Station). It reported 231 residents, of which 110 were White, 106 were Asian, ten were Creole (Mixed Russian & Native), three were Native and two were Other. It would not appear again until 1960, when it reported as the unincorporated village of Cold Bay. It was made a census-designated place (CDP) in 1980 and incorporated in 1982.
Cold Bay is a highly transient community, lacking the generational attachment characteristic of the surrounding native villages. Residents, drawn to the area largely by the Wildlife Refuge, Weather Service, or air traffic jobs, rarely stay more than a year in Cold Bay.
At the 2000 census, there were 88 people, 36 households and 18 families residing in the city. The population density was 1.6 per square mile (0.6/km²). There were 98 housing units at an average density of 1.8 per square mile (0.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72% White, 3% Black or African American, 17% Native American, 5% Asian, 2% Pacific Islander, and 1% from two or more races. 2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 36 households of which 33% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44% were married couples living together, 3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50% were non-families. 36% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was two and the average family size was three.
Age distribution was 24% under the age of 18, 9% from 18 to 24, 40% from 25 to 44, 27% from 45 to 64. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 184 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 205 males.
The median household income was $55,750, and the median family income was $64,375. Males had a median income of $36,250 versus $38,333 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,037. There were no families and 27% of the population living below the poverty line, including no one under eighteen or over 64.
Cold Bay has one store, the Bearfoot Inn Alaska, formerly known as the World-famous Weathered Inn. It supplies groceries, clothing and small trinkets to the residents of Cold Bay and other communities within the Aleutians East Borough, although many residents order groceries and supplies from suppliers in Anchorage and Seattle. The Bearfoot Inn also offers lodging with its 8-room hotel and 6-room bunk house. Within the main building there is the Bearfoot Inn Bar which is open 3 to 6 days a week depending on the season. Bearfoot Inn is within walking distance of the airport.
The Cold Bay Lodge is the only restaurant in town. The lodge can accommodate up to about 40 people (38 beds), offers wireless Internet access, holds a liquor license, is less than a mile from the airport and offers trinkets and snacks.
A major community event is the Silver Salmon Derby, a fishing contest that takes place every fall. Participants vie in both adult and child categories for cash prizes for the largest fish. A raft race and "Polar Bear Jump" are also held. The Derby concludes with a banquet and door prize giveaway at the town community hall.
Parks and recreation
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
The 498,000-acre (2,020 km2) Izembek refuge was established in 1960. It encompasses several large lagoons, including the 30-mile (48 km) Izembek Lagoon, which serve as a food source and shelter for a large migratory bird population.
Approximately 130,000 Pacific black brant, 62,000 emperor geese, 50,000 Taverner's Canada geese, 300,000 ducks, and 80,000 shore birds stop over in the Izembek area during migration and as many as 50,000 Steller's eiders find winter grounds there.
Cold Bay was incorporated as a city in January 1982. Cold Bay is classified by the state government as a second-class city. As such, it is governed by a seven-member city council, which elects the city's mayor from among its membership. The current mayor is Dailey Schaack. The city clerk is Angela Simpson.
The following individuals have served as the mayor of Cold Bay since its incorporation:
Cold Bay School
The Cold Bay School was the community's public grade school, operated by the Aleutians East Borough School District (AEBSD), until its closure in May 2015. AEBSD's school board voted to close Cold Bay School following the conclusion of the 2014–2015 school year due to a decline in enrollment, which led to the loss of state funding. The school employed one teacher and served between four and nine students in its last years. The loss of the school caused an exodus of the remaining school-aged children until, by 2015, only one was left.
Circa 1978 the school, then a part of the Aleutian Region School District, had two teachers, and 37 students. In the 1980s, the school typically enrolled around 30 students. In 1985 it reached peak enrollment, with 50 students and four teachers. Despite its remote location, the school was involved in state and national activities, such as hosting the military's "Operation Arctic Care" outreach health program in 2002, and by briefly becoming involved with reporting for CNN Student Bureau that same year.
The Alaska Marine Highway travels between Cold Bay and Kodiak twice a month between May and October, and cargo ships visit the city monthly from Seattle, Washington. Currently, the city only has a dock and a seaplane base, but the city hopes to develop a breakwater, boat harbor and boat launch.
Cold Bay is serviced by Cold Bay Airport, holding the fifth-largest runway in Alaska, and a second, smaller one. Regional flights occur six times a week.
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