Whittier, Alaska is located at the northern end of glacier-lined Passage Canal in Prince William Sound, 65 miles southeast of Anchorage. This tiny, remote community was established as a strategic military facility during World War II. Whittier’s ice-free port has served various marine activities from freight transfers of sea-train barges heading to South-central Alaska to a fishing and tourism port.
The Whittier Glacier near Whittier was named for the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1915. During World War II the United States Army constructed a port and railroad terminus near the glacier and named the port Whittier. In 1941, the U.S. Congress appropriated $5 million to construct a 2.5 mile tunnel to penetrate the mountains to connect Whittier to Anchorage. This tunnel would be one of the largest in the world, and two years and two tunnels later, the first train arrived in Whittier on June 1, 1943, forever linking this Alaskan outpost by sea and land.
By the year 2000, the tunnel began to serve both vehicles and the train. Two of the largest buildings in Alaska were also constructed in Whittier during the war, with the unique concept of housing all residents under one roof. To this day, most of the population of 185 lives in one of these tall buildings, and its tiny boat harbor remains the gateway to the pristine wonders of the beautiful Prince William Sound wilderness.
Things to do
Just across Passage Canal from Whittier is the Kittiwake Rookery, largest of its kind in the world. Fishing is a favorite pastime with salmon and halibut derbies every summer. Whittier is also a berry picker's paradise with blueberries and salmonberries growing in abundance at the edge of town. Famous are also day cruises into Prince William Sound.