In a clear day, from Ninilchik Village you can see the mountain range on the other side of Cook Inlet, including Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna. The photo was taken in Clam Gulch, about 10 miles north of Ninilchik. It's a little foggy, but you can see Mt. Redoubt of perfect volcano shape.
Ninilchik - "Peaceful Settlement By a River"
Ninilchik is a small town of about 800 people on the Sterling Highway between Kenai and Homer. The word "Ninilchik" may mean "a lodge by the river" or "porcupine creek" in the Dena'ina language, but some say it means "peaceful settlement by a river" now. The name Ninilchik is used today, however, to refer to the original village as well as the community that has grown up around it, which extends north, east, and south from the river along the Sterling Highway from mile markers 134 to 138. Residents of Ninilchik sometimes refer to the original village as Ninilchik Village.
"Dena'ina and Russian Heritage"
Ninilchik has an interesting history, including both Russian and Alaska Native heritage. The original inhabitants were Dena'ina Indians. The area was also settled by a Russian Orthodox missionary and his family in 1847, i.e., Grigorii Kvasnikov (Anglicized to Kvasnikoff), his Russian-Alutiiq wife Mavra (daughter of Agrafena of Afognak), and their children. The descendants of Grigorii and Mavra are chronicled in the book "Agrafena's Children."
The 1880, United States Census listed 53 "Creoles" living in Ninilchik in nine extended families. All nine founding families of Ninilchik are descendants of the Kvasnikoffs and Dena'ina natives. In 1896, a school was built. In 1901, the Russian Orthodox Church was redesigned and constructed at its current site. Today Ninilchik is one of the largest settlements of Russians in Alaska.
"Attractions and Busy Times"
The Ninilchik River is just 21 miles long but is popular for its salmon fishing. The mud flats formed by it are known for their razor clams. Halibut can also be caught in Cook Inlet close to Ninilchik. The town is really busy three times a year. First, on Memorial Day weekend when the king salmon season opens and anglers pack the river banks. Secondly, in early July during the Ninilchik Rodeo, and thirdly, during the "Biggest Little Fair in Alaska" on the third weekend in August. I was there on 4 and 7 Aug 07, so I missed the Fair.
It's amazing to walk into a place where history is recorded in the buildings as well as people. Established in the 1820's, Ninilchik is the oldest community on Kenai Peninsula. Today many of the village's log houses are still occupied by descendents of the original Russian colonists who came with the Russian American Company. Even after Alaska was purchased by U.S., they kept their tradition generations after.