1965 to 1974: Ouzinkie Rebuilt!

Daily Life in Ouzinkie 1965 to 1974 (a Photo Album)

PART ONE: A Village Rebuilds

Introduction: The Decade after the Destruction

After the destruction caused by the tsunamis of March 27, 1964, Ouzinkie rebuilt and started over. Of course nothing was quite the same, but it was an exciting time, nonetheless. Then began a process of change that continues to the present day. I was in grade school during the mid-to-late 60s, and I also took up photography during that time, so I have a ton of photos to use to chronicle the major events and milestones. I was in the village frequently thereafter until the mid-1970s, taking pictures almost daily! This is a photo album with commentary, arranged by topic, so skip ahead to what interests you. Other articles contain more photos of kids than this one (see the article on the activities at "The Mission"), but you never know what you might find here. The black and white photos are mostly mine, probably developed in the little darkroom in the Mission's basement. The color photos come from Rev. Norman Smith (my Dad), or from Travis K. North, who worked with my folks for five years at Camp Woody.

Ouzinkie Gets Rebuilt!

This beautiful Travis North photo from 1969 shows Ouzinkie rebuilt, with a new dock and four cannery buildings that survived the tidal wave still in use. The store (tallest building) and warehouse (to its right and behind the trees) still remain today.

Some Canneries

Try as it might, Ouzinkie had a hard time keeping a cannery in operation after the Tidal Wave. A barge called the AmPac was the first cannery, followed by the Akutan processing ship, followed by the Ouzinkie Seafoods Inc. cannery across the bay. The world-famous Kalakala from Puget Sound also spent some time tied up to the OSI dock as a cannery. But since the burning of the OSI cannery in the mid-70s, no successful attempts at putting a cannery in the village have been made. These photos chronicle the saga of the canneries.

A pile driver lays the pilings for the AmPac barge in one of the first photos I processed in my darkroom.

The AmPac arrives.

Jerry plays outside the AmPac. (The processor lasted only one summer before being moved elsewhere).

The Ouzinkie Seafoods cannery is being built (1966)...

...while across the bay, The Akutan begins operation at the Kadiak dock

OSI cannery's first freighter arrival picks up processed seafood, winter of 1966-67

Ouzinkie Seafoods cannery from near where the boat harbor is today (Travis North photo, 1969)

The remains of the OSI cannery, and the end of a dream for local residents.

Two Tractors

It was a big deal in Ouzinkie (at least to us kids) when Johnny Panamarioff and Norm Smith brought small tractors to the village to help haul freight and oil. We could pretend that Ouzinkie had cars and roads like Kodiak. All of that would change soon enough, but these were the first powered vehicles to roam the village.

Johnny Pan's tractor and a work crew spread gravel on the trail below the Mission in one of the first photos I ever developed.

Rev. Norman Smith and Kelly hauling freight in 1965 with the ancient Gibson garden tractor.

Places Around Town

I found so many things to take pictures of. This is the Eric Bulmer house, which survived the tidal wave, with the church hill behind it. This photo appeared in Yule Chaffin's Koniag to King Crab along with the title "This picture was taken by young Timmy Smith of Ouzinkie."

If you're bored with taking pictures in the daytime, try nighttime. This is the same scene by moonlight, which took a time exposure of about fifteen minutes!

Sometimes a freighter or tanker provided some bright lights, making for nice night shots.

I liked to climb trees just for the heck of it, and take pictures of whatever I could see from there. Here's a photo of the corner of the Mission taken from a tree in the back yard. You can see a little bit of Floyd's roof and the shoreline of Cat Island, too! A couple of kids on their way back from Otherside also got in the picture.

This computer-combined shot was from two photos I took in 1967 while at the top of the "Fat Tree" just down the trail from the Mission. The new downtown had no buildings out on the dock, but a two-story store building (the light colored roof in the photo) and an adjacent warehouse, which became the new center of town after they were built in 1965. Several salvaged cannery buildings (the oil shed and the cannery office, visible in the center of the photo) were also put to use. To the right, across the bay, the Western Pioneer is again at the dock at Ouzinkie Seafoods.

Before the roads were put in, Ouzinkie was a village of boardwalks. This computer composite of two photos from Travis North (you can see the blur of the combined photos in the middle of the old community center) shows the boardwalks going up through the swamps toward the Chernikoffs' and Katelnikoffs' houses. The post office building now stands where the community center is in this photo, and the boardwalks have been replaced by roads.

Meeting the Plane

(See also my online article entitled Goose Stories, with more great photos and input from several of the Goose pilots!)

One of my favorite things to do was to meet the mail plane. Dad took these great shots of the Kodiak Airways Goose N87U taxiing in...

...And turning around on the "Sandy Beach" below the Church Hill.The Goose has an unusual turquoise and white color scheme instead of the customary Kodiak Airways red and white. By 1969 (the following picture) N87U was painted in the customary Kodiak Airways white and red.

After the Goose taxied up and turned around, the passengers would get out, the mail bags would be exchanged, and the kids would enjoy watching Ouzinkie at its busiest. This rare photo is from the Travis North collection.

Same plane, different day... Here is old N87U (the plane in Kodiak Airways colors in the photo display at the Smithsonian in Wahington DC) leaving the Sandy Beach and diving into some pretty heavy chop. That must have been a bouncy takeoff. Meanwhile, village kids loved to run through the backwash!

Here, the tide was too high for the plane to taxi up onto the beach, so a skiff picked up the mail. The pilot would wait until he turned around before starting the port engine, to help the skiffs avoid the spray. This is N1583V, Kodiak Airways' first Goose, purchased from Catalina Airways in 1956.

Sometimes there was a lot of traffic for Ouzinkie! A Goose and a Cessna cross paths in the bay.

A group of kids greet a Widgeon as I leave in a Goose. Ouzinkie International Airport!

Weather and Whatnot

A freak storm on Thanksgiving Day, 1967, sent spray all the way over Cat Island...

...and swamped the GPC 21 (which lived to sail another day).

This was a surprise snowstorm on May 1, 1968. The Mission is hiding behind the heavily-laden boughs of the "Fat Tree" (Taken just down the hill from Tim Panamarioff's place while a dog looked on!)

The bad weather forced a Coast Guard evacuation when a sick patient had to get to treatment. (1968)

A Home Village to Be Proud Of

The people of Ouzinkie are great folks who have been through a lot. Folks of my generation (born in the 1950s) spent their young years in a town that had changed little since before World War II. We saw the entire downtown destroyed, saw canneries come and go, and finally, have experienced roads, city water and sewer, a new school, 24-hour power, phones and satellite TVs, and even a new boat harbor. In all of this, the village has managed to become a more pleasant and friendly place than ever before. Residents of Ouzinkie should be proud of the town they have made for themselves. And I am proud to have grown up there!

The author, Timothy Smith, at Otherside Beach in 1974 (colorized).

Written by Timothy Smith, web author. See the About Me page for more information. Always feel free to send me comments, suggestions or corrected information about this article or any of the articles on this site. (Write to: Tanignak@aol.com) This article and website is 2005 Timothy L. Smith, Tanignak Productions, 14282 Tuolumne Court, Fontana, California, 92336 (909) 428 3472. Images unless otherwise listed are from the collection of Rev. Norman L. Smith or the Timothy L. Smith collection. This material may be used for non-commercial purposes, with attribution. Please email me with any specific requests. You are welcome to link to this site.

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