Ninilchik Alaska Information
Accommodations on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula
Alaska's Kenai Peninsula Resource Network
 

1847-1997
Celebrating 150 years of existence
Sesquicentennial Anniversary

Current Population: 597
Incorporation Type: Unincorporated
Borough Located In: Kenai Peninsula Borough
Borough Sales Tax: 2%

A view of our Home - Ninilchik
Ninilchik Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula
 
  Location and Climate:
Ninilchik lies on the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula on the Sterling Highway, 38 miles southwest of the City of Kenai. It lies at approximately 60 03' N Latitude and 151 40' W Longitude. The area encompasses 38.2 sq. miles of land and 36.5 sq. miles of water. Winter temperatures range from 14 to 27; summer temperatures vary from 45 to 60. Average annual precipitation is 24 inches.

History, Culture and Demographics:

History time line:
1841 First buildings constructed in Ninilchik for settlers
1842 First settlers arrive at Ninilchik but leave before winter
1847 Grigorii and Mavra Kvasnikoff move family to Ninilchik
1851 Oskolkoff sons move with mother and stepfather to Ninilchik
1867 U.S. purchases Alaska from Russia
1896 Russian village school built
1901 Russian Orthodox church dedicated at current site on hill
1911 American teacher Alyce Anderson arrives, starts English school
1912 Mt. Katmai eruption brings thick layer of ash to Ninilchik
1925 first Ninilchik post office
1929 first airplane lands in Ninilchik
1949 Berman Packing Co. fish cannery begins local operation
1950 Sterling Highway completed through Ninilchik
1951 new Ninilchik School built at current site beside the highway
1959 Alaskan Statehood: local family fish traps abolished
1964 March 27 big Alaska earthquake shakes Ninilchik and other areas
1967 Sterling Highway paved through Ninilchik
1982 new post office built at current site on Kingsley Road
1990 major eruption of Mt. Redoubt brings ashes to Ninilchik
1995 Ninilchik High School girls basketball team wins State championship
1996 November: Elementary school fire

The Peninsula was historically used by Dena'ina Indians for fur-farming and fishing. In 1847, Grigorii and Mavra Kvasnikoff moved their large family from Kodiak to Ninilchik. Mr. Kvasnikoff was a Russian Orthodox missionary from the Moscow area. Mrs. Kvasnikoff was a Sugpiaq Eskimo from Kodiak. His wife, Mavra, was a "creole," the daughter of Efim Rastorguev, a Russian shipbuilder, and Agrafena Petrovna, an Aleut from Kodiak Island. All nine major old families of Ninilchik descend from Mr. and Mrs. Kvasnikoff. These families are: Kvasnikoff, Oskolkoff, Crawford, Steik, Kelly, Jackinsky, Cooper, Resoff, and Leman. Descendants of the first Kvasnikoff couple in Ninilchik now number 3,000, and live not only in Ninilchik, but also in Anchorage, Kodiak, Nanwalek (English Bay), Port Graham, Seldovia, Kenai, Cordova, Metlakatla, Seattle, and elsewhere. Their story is told in the book Agrafena's Children: the Old Families of Ninilchik, edited by Wayne Leman (first edition 1993, 150 year anniversary edition 1997). The book is found in the Ninilchik and Kenai community libraries, and has been purchased by many of Agrafena's children. By 1880, the U.S. Census found 53 "creoles" (Russian-Sugpiaqs) living in Ninilchik. The 1940's saw an increasing number of homesteaders moving to the Ninilchik area. Today the town is no longer just a rustic village, with Russian-style log homes, in the valley beside the Ninilchik River.

Many of the current Native residents are descendants of the Kvasnikoffs. A traditional Native Village is located in the community, although approximately 80% of the population are non-Natives. The village association is actively involved in local issues and is a leading advocate for the senior center. There is a strong Russian Orthodox following, and an historical Church is located in Ninilchik.

Today's Ninilchik combines the rich heritage of its original families, homesteaders, and others who have moved to our town, where we enjoy the small town pace of life, the beautiful scenery, and the freedom to be Alaskans, independent, hard-working, and enterprising. We welcome you to visit our special town. We have excellent facilities for visitors to enjoy Ninilchik with us.

During the April 1990 U.S. Census, there were 330 total housing units, and 44% of these were vacant. 146 jobs were estimated to be in the community. The official unemployment rate at that time was 24.4%. 60% of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $31,518, and 9.7% of residents were living below the poverty level.

10,198 foot high Mt. Redoubt can be seen in the west, 40 miles across Cook Inlet.
This sign, posted at a pullout on the road to the Ninilchik Spit, greets visitors in Russian, the original language of the village, and English:

The sign reads,

"Privet (Greetings). My name is Ninilchik Village. I was settled around the turn of the 19th century by creoles, Russians, Aleuts, and Indians. The names of my earlier children were Kvasnikoff, Oskolkoff, Kompkoff, and Astrogin. They were retired hunters and trappers that wanted to find a homeland of their own. Some of their great grandchildren still reside here to this day. My Russian Orthodox Church, on the hill, was built in the early 20th century. My river, and Cook Inlet are best known for their fish. My beaches are known for their clams. I ask that you please respect my people, their heritage, their culture, their property, and my river and beaches. Spasebo (Thank you)."

[Note: since the sign was posted, we now know even more precisely, from recently translated Russian documents, when the village was founded.]
There is a State-owned airstrip. The major local industries are commercial and sport fishing, tourism, and timber harvesting.
Ninilchik Harbor

Annual events:

Kenai Peninsula Fair ("Biggest Little Fair in Alaska") , Ninilchik, third week of August, phone (907) 567-3670
The Ninilchik Halibut Derby
The Ninilchik King Salmon Derby

Churches:

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church is the most photographed building in Ninilchik. Its services began in 1846 with the arrival of lay missionary Grigorii Kvasnikoff. This present building was designed by local architect Aleksei Oskolkoff and dedicated in 1901.

Other area Churches include:
Calvary Baptist Church, P.O. Box 39509, Ninilchik, AK 99639, (907) 567-3971, Pastor Ron Blough

St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, Box 39290, Ninilchik, AK 99639, (907) 567-3490

St. Peter the Fisherman United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 39153, Ninilchik, AK 99639, (907) 567-3443

In late summer beautiful fireweed surrounds the church. Two priests have come from the old families of Ninilchik, Father Michael Oskolkoff, now deceased, and Archpriest Father Simeon Oskolkoff who serves a number of Alaskan parishes, including Eklutna and Nanwalek.

Fishing:
Ninilchik has always been rich in nearby seafood: razor clams, salmon, halibut, and some river trout. Today fish are harvested in Ninilchik by families who depend upon commercial salmon fishing for their livelihood. Here father and son, Wayne and James Leman, reel nets into their boat, preparing for the next day's work at their set net sites:

James shows two of the sockeye
(red) salmon he helped catch:

The commercial fishery is shared with the increasing sports fishing industry. A number of local businesses provide tour guide services to assist the sport fisherman who wishes to catch a prize King Salmon or delicious Halibut.


Local information and facilities:

Ninilchik Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 39164
Ninilchik, AK 99639
(907) 567-3518

Ninilchik Community Library 567-3333
Ninilchik Community Clinic 567-3970

Ninilchik Fair Association
Ninilchik, AK 99639
(907) 567-3670

Ninilchik Traditional Council
P.O. Box 39070
Ninilchik, AK 99639 (907) 567-3313

Ninilchik Native Association, Inc.,
800 E. Dimond Blvd., Suite 3-490,
Anchorage, AK 99515-2044 (907) 344-8654 or (888) 279-9211


Books About Ninilchik:

Homesteader's Handbook ( Ninilchik PTA), 1952, 1992 (local recipes)
Ninilchik Plantlore: An Ethnobotany of the Ninilchik Dena'ina, Aleut, and Russian Peoples, by Priscilla N. Russell, 1991 (Ninilchik Traditional Council)
Agrafena's Children: the Old Families of Ninilchik, Alaska, edited by Wayne Leman, 1993, 1997
Inlet Outlet: Poetry from Ninilchik, Alaska, by Wayne Leman.


 
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