Kenai, Alaska, with a population of approximately 7,000, is located on the scenic Kenai Peninsula, home of the world-famous Kenai River — not to mention the nearby Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. It’s one of the world’s premier destinations for commercial and sportfishing and has a thriving economy due to its popularity as a tourist destination (as well as oil and gas explorations happening in the region). Originally, Kenai was home to the Dena’ina Athabascan people for thousands of years before it became a Russian settlement in the 1700s. When the Russians arrived, they traded fur and fish and established the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church. The iconic domes prevalent atop Russian orthodox churches can still be seen in cities and towns across the state. Following the U.S. purchase of Alaska in 1867, commercial fishing remained a driving factor of the economy through the early 1900s. Homesteading gained popularity in Kenai in the 1940s and opened the door for additional economic development.
Take a walk with us down memory lane with some historic images of Kenai and see what this modern Alaska town looked like in its not-too-distant past.