Murder Cove/Tyee/Surprise Harbor

Sperm Whale at Tyee Whale Plant
Baleen whale hauled out at the Murder Cove plant on Admiralty Island
(Case and Draper Collection ASL-P39-0505, Alaska State Library--click to enlarge from source)

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The Tyee Whaling Company established the first whaling station in Alaska at Murder Cove, Admiralty Island, in 1907, and operated until 1913. At the time, the southeast Alaska inside waters were viewed as "unexploited waters". The company had the first American-built steam-powered whale chaser, the 97-foot "Tyee Junior", whose equipment included a harpoon gun on the bow. Whales caught were boiled into oil or ground into fertilizer. A declining catch and the sinking of the company's gas-powered schooner by a wounded whale ended the operation.

(Huge plant must have been built on speculation!) BC and Pacific NW were expanding whaling operations at this time also....why????

PIT archaeology expedition at Murder Cove in 1999

Webb (1988) wrote that:

As early as 1909 the catch had fallen well below expectation, even though the firm seems to have employed a flotilla of small vessels made over as chaser boats. A barge called the Diamondhead may have served as a floating factory. But the station was far away from the large whales.

In May of 1910, one of the firm's whaling vessels, the Lizzie S. Sorensen, was sunk by a large whale.1939 Shore whaling along Alaska's shores ended (all companies).

Conversion to Herring Reduction Plant (Rounsefell lists this one as "Surprise Harbor", which is actually next door....somewhat uncertain).

Southeast Whaling Photo Gallery...

Other whaling plants in SE Alaska converted to herring:

Murder Cove Photo Links:

Text sources: --tyee cannery closed in the 1940s


Back to: History of Southeast Alaska Herring Fisheries

Link to: References

Caution: These pages contain preliminary research results, and are presented here only to further collaborative research and analysis. The information presented has not been fully analyzed or verified for correctness. Please consult the original literature citations for authentic interpretations or contact the author regarding applications of any analysis presented on these pages.

For more information, contact Fritz Funk: fritzat     |     Last modified: Apr 12, 2008 at 21:14:42

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