Island Journey with the Evangel 12

Two Decades of Evangel Visits to Long Island (Alaska)

The Evangel Visits Long Island in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s

This colorized map of Long Island was created from a photo of Marianne Boko’s Camp Woody wall maps.  The red letters indicate the locations and types of some of the World War II military installations.  The info comes from the Kodiak Military History Museum site.  Long Island was then known as Fort Tidball, a part of the Army’s installation at Kodiak called Fort Greely.  The fort on the island was not completed until 1943, about the time the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska were taken back from the Japanese.  The base was put in caretaker status in 1944 as the focus of the war left Alaska and the military focus shifted closer and closer to Japan.

The early years: the Evangel takes a group of campers on a day trip to Long Island in the summer of 1959. The old weather monitoring hut on the Army dock is visible above the Evangel’s pilot house. Mab Boko photo.

Eight years later, after the Tidal Wave, the Evangel is at anchor near where the dock used to be in these photos from July of 1964 (taken by my sister Jerilynn). On this day, the campers stopped exploring long enough to help Kelly Smith (my brother) to celebrate his birthday.  The photo on the right was taken from the window of one of the barracks, looking down at a group getting ready to eat lunch.  A trip to Long Island has always meant spectacular beauty mixed with lots of old military facilities to explore.


When Camp Woody began on Woody Island in 1956, the staff had a lot of fond memories of Long Island, which had been the camping site for the previous three years.  Camp Woody immediately adopted it as a great place to visit for the day.  By the late 50’s, several seasons of campers had made trips to the island.  In the late 60’s it became a regular practice to take at least one camp (usually the high school kids) over to Long Island for a day trip once a season.  The Smith family often went there for a day or two as a vacation as well, and in the mid-1970’s, a group of five or six guys from the camp staff spent several days there camping out on the meadow near the beach, exploring and taking pictures. This is an Evangel journey, because except for the extended 1976 skiff trip, our transportation to and from the island was the Evangel, in conjunction with Camp Woody.

An “Impossible” Tour:

This article features an account of many memorable journeys, combined into an impossible single-day visit to all of the island’s major features. (That’s like saying you got to visit all the rides at Disneyland in one day! And is there any need to mention that it’s a long island?)  But for the sake of narrative, we’ll take a whirlwind tour of both ends of the island. Data on the sites’ military designations and functions come from the wonderful website of the Kodiak Military History Museum.  There are photos in this article from the 1950’s to the 70’s.  Recent photos  document the changes to the island over the years.  Unfortunately, many of the most interesting sites no longer exist or have severely degraded over the years, so the old photos are helpful in illustrating the narrative.  At each memorable spot, I will provide photos and descriptions to document the island as it was before the buildings disintegrated, and before the government did the toxic cleanup.  LINKS BELOW: Click on the Woody/ Long Island index for more about Camp Woody.  Click on the words in white to access the detailed photo scrapbooks of Long Island: Long Island Center to Burt Point, Long Island Deer Point, and Long Island Castle Bluff.

Top: The Voyager dwarfs the Evangel as they prepare to take campers to Long Island in 1975.

Right: The Evangel approaches the beach in Cook Bay, summer of 1974. This photo was the basis of a portrait that hung for years in Rev. Joyce Smith’s living room in Ouzinkie.

A Tour of Long Island (With Campers in the 1970’s)

It is late June, and the Senior High camp at Camp Woody is in full swing, with a large group of campers.  I am the dean of the camp, and my parents, Rev. and Mrs. Norman Smith, are the caretakers, as they have been for every summer since the camp opened in 1956.  The weather looks good, so we are heading to Long Island for the day.  We load up the Evangel with enough food to serve all of us lunch and dinner. We don’t want to take two trips, so we enlist the assistance of Bill Torsen, the husband of our camp cook, Beryl, the owner of the Voyager and longtime friend of camp, who will transport campers as well. The staff and campers are eager to go; this is one of the highlights of the summer for many of us. We soon leave the dock at Woody and swing wide around the rocks and kelp beds that lie off Crab Lagoon and Sawmill Beach. Our destination is Cook Bay on Long Island, a natural harbor with a deep channel once used by large vessels in the war. In fact, Long Island is like one big fort, with military paraphernalia scattered through the trees and along the cliffs from one end to the other. It is also home to hundreds of nesting bald eagles, and has been stocked with deer. Whether history lover, nature buff or in the mood for basking on the beach, all with no one to disturb you, Long Island surely has it all.

The Center (“Headquarters” Barracks Complex, South End of Cook Bay)

The south end of Cook bay is basically the geographical center of Long Island, and that is where the camps were held from 1953 to 1955.  There is a complex of several large barracks buildings (the same model as the main Camp Woody building) and a large mess hall, and all were in usable condition in the 50’s but are pretty beat up by the mid-70’s.  That end of the bay is still the best location to unload the campers, and has a fine beach for campfires. So we always anchor off from the barracks complex when we bring campers in the Evangel.  

After a journey more than twice as long as the trip from Woody to Kodiak, the Evangel and the Voyager reach the island. Voyager drops anchor at the south end of Cook Bay. With a much more shallow draft, the Evangel can come right up to the beach, where all the supplies are quickly transferred to the skiff and brought to shore. The Voyager’s skiff has also arrived, and soon all of us are gathering on the wide lawn between the crumbling barracks. We have a quick lunch and then I instruct the campers when to return for supper  I also outline the day’s possible activities, and warn everyone to go out in groups of twos or threes because some of the old military structures can be hazardous if you don’t know what you’re doing.  A large group of campers head off with Larry Le Doux and me, because we are Long Island junkies, and love being tour guides.

Left photo: Campers walk along the remains of a foundation with an old barracks in the background. For many years, the island was scrounged for lumber (like half of this building) or simply vandalized. Right photo: the building in the foreground has been burned, leaving the remains of its furnace and chimneys behind.

A secret of Long Island, now removed in the toxic cleanup undertaken in later years: in 1975 Larry Le Doux and Kelly Smith inspect the huge underground fuel dump located near the main barracks area. has maps detailing how many gallons of fuel each tank could hold.

Exploring the North End of Long Island

We take off hiking as soon as lunch digestion permits.  No need to worry about daylight; it’s summer in Alaska, and we’ll have good sunshine until late evening. The road to the north end is long gone, a victim of the subsidence which accompanied the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964.  So we make our way over the rocky beach until we reach the old machine shop area.  The building is barely standing, but the painted outline of where the tools once hung is still visible on one wall, and the huge garage doors still hang precariously.

The old machine shop stands amid logs swept in by the Tidal Wave in this 1975 photo.  Only a concrete slab remains today.  Here the Army road divides to go to Castle Bluff (left) and Deer Point (right). The logs are all a side effect of the 1964 Tidal Wave.

Here is where the old road divides: the road to the left goes off through deep forest toward the Castle Bluff installation, and the road to the right will circle up the cliff to the Deer Point complex. We opt for the Castle Bluff road first, always a crowd pleaser. I have brought a flashlight this time.  That end of the island is pretty boring (or downright dangerous) without one. For a while there’s nothing but a small generator shed off to the right, and lots of trees.  The road has a fine, fur-like coating of green grass growing through the gravel bed, and it’s like walking on a carpet through the forest. We turn a bend and suddenly are surrounded by Quonset huts, with storage buildings and a long, collapsed mess hall.  There must have been room for hundreds of soldiers in all those huts. After examining the kitchen end of the mess hall, with its huge chopping block still visible under the collapsed roof, we take a quick turn to the right.  Roads to the right and left reveal more Quonset huts, and one which housed the restroom and shower facilities still has some toilet paper on the roll next to the commode.  But our goal is further up the road.

Lots of Quonset huts! Left: in 1968, my sister Robin stands outside a building that still had toilet paper for the commodes and still had sinks that could work. Right: a small group of huts  and “skid shacks”above the machine shop is typical of installations all across the island.

The Radar Tower at Castle Bluff:

Suddenly, through the trees ahead of us peeks the unmistakable outline of a metal tower. It is the main radar tower of Fort Tidball, with its huge antenna still perched precariously on its wooden roof. Climbing the tower is a no-brainer; it simply must be done every year. Most of us (the brave ones) brave the long metal ladder and crawl out on the catwalk far above. The view of the north end of Long Island is spectacular. It is traditional to take photos of all the new visitors as they cling to the railing high above the forest floor. The elevator shaft, minus most of its equipment, is a gaping hole in the metal grate of a floor, so everyone steps carefully around the edges. Someone tries shaking the tower, and it obliges nicely, but it’s been through a 9.2 quake without losing a bolt, and we’re not likely to disturb it. We call triumphantly to all the campers who didn’t brave the climb, snap a few verifying photos and then head back down.

The Castle Bluff radar tower can be found by taking a right turn about halfway from the machine shop to the gun emplacement. This 1973 photo shows its full height.  It is now mostly obscured by the spruce forest that has grown up around it.

Two photos from 1975: Debbie Sullens nears the top of the long ladder, and the tower (with Kelly Smith looking down) still shows a visible radar antenna.

Larry takes us to a secret Quonset hut just to the south of the tower, hidden in the trees. That hut has specially decorated Masonite walls (posted in the “Castle Bluff” link above). I get Oscar, the Smith family’s dog and Camp Woody mascot, to pose, with appropriate tongue hanging out, before moving on. A short walk through moss-covered forest beyond the tower in the opposite direction, we head for Castle Bluff, but not before we see first-hand some of the damage that the Great Quake did to the island. Trees along the cliff side are tilted at crazy angles, and a three-foot deep fissure separates the cliff from the rest of the point. An ordinary lookout tower, which had been built out of huge timbers, is nearby, perched at a crazy angle, its aging timbers shattered by the force of the quake.  

Two photos from 1973: Earthquake damage to the Castle Bluff section of Long Island was severe. Left: Note the cracked land along the bluff and the tilted trees. Right:The great 1964 quake knocked down the lookout tower, which had wooden timbers, unlike the radar tower.

The Coastal Battery at Castle Bluff:

But the biggest prize of our sightseeing is still to come: the huge, two story gun emplacement of Castle Bluff, with its enormous iron gun housings. The six-inch guns, never fired in anger, were dynamited in the “Aleutian Clean-up” of the early 1950’s, but the housings, four inch thick shells of solid iron, merely rolled to one side. Everybody poses looking out the gun holes, and a few of us climb up to the top of the bunker, where the view is spectacular. I remember the flashlight, and we all daintily creep into the top floor of the bunker, entering on the north side.  Empty ammunition compartments, which once held shells and bags of powder in watertight containers, line one side of the wall, and there is a little light around a slight bend, which comes from the door at the far end. About midway down this hallway, a gigantic dark hole appears to the right. It is a pitch-black stairwell, and the flashlight comes in handy. Stalactites of calcium can be seen on the ceiling. Some light from the lower entrance can be seen at the very bottom of the stairs, which we gingerly descend.

These two images of Castle Bluff’s six-inch guns are from 1973.  Left: the view as you walk out of the trees near the downed tower is the south gun housing, which is nearly where it originally stood. Right: the view from the top of the bunker looking down at the north gun, whose housing was almost blown to the cliff’s edge. The point beyond has several nice lookout pillboxes, but is almost inaccessible since the road washed out years before.

Left: the upper hallway with ammo locker doors open and stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Right: the lower entrance (which we exit from in the text) as it looked in 1968.  Robin, Kelly and Joyce Smith emerge from the two-story bunker.

We are now deep inside the two-story bunker. To our left is a large room, filled with large planks, with a workbench and a barrel or two.  It is about three feet lower than the hall we are in, with a couple of strange openings right at our floor level.  One year, without a flashlight, I foolishly clambered through the small opening into this room, and tripped over a barrel, which covered my pants with thick oil, and also ruined a perfectly good pair of sneakers. I was also alone at the time, not a wise thin considering there are many open trenches for cables and hydraulics. This time, armed with a flashlight, I stay in the hallway, but notice the two-tone paint that is still visible on the walls. Beyond this toward the exit is the bunker’s generator room, which once also ran the hydraulic pumps, which operated the big guns above.

Still in the hallway, we turn right through metal blast doors into a very conventional-looking doorway, replete with a wooden door still on its hinges. Inside is a room with two-tone floor tile and an old table. We pass through this to an inner room where a large telephone switchboard once controlled communication to sites across the island and to neighboring forts. I notice that once we stepped through the wooden doorway, the rooms are eerily quiet. In the hallway the echoes of feet and voices can easily be heard, but the sound is deadened in the inner chambers, thanks to cork-like panels on the ceiling, some of which are hanging precariously. Not only are some of these at head level, but another hazard is the floor, which is missing many of its protective panels, revealing a trench several feet deep that once housed all the bunker’s wiring and hydraulic lines. But I brought a flashlight with that in mind, and we all get out safely. We blink a bit in the sunlight at the bright green hillside on the back of the bunker.

Beyond Castle Bluff the road once dipped across a narrow spit and up the hill to a complex of lookouts and Quonset huts.  The lookouts are concrete, and will be there forever, but the huts have all collapsed, not having any shelter from the elements.  Even worse, the Tidal Wave washed out the road, necessitating a hard rock climb to the top.  Having done that a couple of years ago for the reward of a long hike through pushki to view lookouts that are easily found elsewhere on the island, I forego that option.  We all decide to go up the hill on the other side of the bay to Deer Point, where more cool World War II reminders await us.  We head back down the road, briefly exploring an ammunition dump with two inner chambers and a drive through entrance, guarded at each end by rusting orange-painted iron doors that are fused in place with age.  After backtracking to the machine shop, we head east toward the cliff.  The road is mostly intact, and where it is missing, we clamber over drift logs and find it again as it heads uphill.  Once a set of wooden stairs went from the beach all the way to the top of the cliff above, but that is long gone now.  The road is the only practical way up, and there are cool places to explore on and near the road.  

Left: The north entrance to the Castle Bluff drive-thru bunker in 1969

Right: The south entrance to the Castle Bluff drive-through bunker in 1973.

The photos show the drive-through bunker’s blast doors ,and one of the two side-by-side interior rooms in two photos from 1975.  

The Deer Point Installation:

Turning a corner in the road, we see a pretty little lily pond, and beyond it one of the more spectacular ammunition bunkers. It’s perhaps the largest one on the island, and it’s certainly the driest.  It even has some wooden signs designating what kind of ammo was stored there. We enjoy the spectacular echo of the half-cylinder shaped room, and walk to the far end of it (I already know the floor is flat). Last summer one of the campers had brought some firecrackers, and lit one off while we were still inside. The effect was anything but pleasant!

The Deer Point ammunition bunker as it looked in 1967. This photo is now historic: the bunker is now completely hidden by the spruce trees, and the seedlings seen growing along its roof line are forty feet high! It would be hard to find even from 50 feet away!

Left: in 1969, the inside of the above bunker had a sign describing the type and amount of ammunition stored.  Right: the interior of that bunker (note the sign on the floor), taken from the back wall in 1973.

The Spotting and Plotting Bunker and Deer Point Radar Site

We could go back to the road and continue up to the antiaircraft gun emplacement at the top of the cliff, but I have something else in mind. The real secret of this end of the island is up a little gravel road to the right of the bunker. There we find a wooden building built of 2 x 12 planks nailed together. The foot-thick walls are starting to rot away, but most of the building still shows its tarpaper covering. The large wooden door is almost off its hinges. To the left is living quarters, including a shower room and a rusting water heater. But to the right is a brightly painted room with a plotting table. All over the floor are mimeographed forms detailing when the 155mm Panama mounted guns on the point beyond and the eight-inch guns on the other point had been fired, and what their range had been. The forms are a gibberish of gunnery figures, but they underscore what we have located: here is the command station for all of Fort Tidball (called officially a “spotting and plotting bunker”). Here is where all the orders were barked and the strategies for defense were devised. Fort Tidball, along with Fort Abercrombie north of Kodiak and Fort Smith at Cape Chiniak, were the coastal defenses for the Navy submarine base and communications center at Women’s Bay, and all were part of the huge Army facility known as Fort Greely. A quick look at the walls of the command center confirms my suspicions: a few names have been scrawled on the walls, about four or five years apart.  This place is hard to find!

Up an escarpment of loose slate rock there are even more surprises. There is a building half-buried in the ground (built that way) with double thick tarpaper outside.  It does not appear to be built according to the Army’s typical architectural plans (nor does the command center below it).  Inside (down a three-foot stair which has rotted away) there is nothing of interest, just the evidence of the building having been a meeting place of some sort for the brass who commanded the island. The walls are sagging in badly, and the forest floor will soon take back this half-buried mystery building. But this time I notice a trap door in the ceiling, and with the help of some rickety tables, I sneak up there for a look around.  I retrieve two very strange looking contraptions, both with a plastic-looking scale along one side and a spool of carefully marked paper in the middle.  These are handmade plotting devices, used by the spotters to inform the gunners of Castle Bluff and Deer Point how to program their huge guns. I take these contraptions with me, since the building is about to collapse and nothing here has been important to anybody for over thirty years. They will find their way into the Kodiak Military History Museum at Abercrombie a couple of decades later.

The Deer Point radar station door as it looked in 1974. The door artwork no longer survives.

One more fine mystery awaits us now that we’re on the crest of the hill. Ahead of us is a crumbling wooden hut, again not seemingly built to Army specs. This one has bare wood walls inside, like one of the many storage buildings, but has been painted two-tone cream and green.  There are wide counters built of sturdy planks and two-by-fours, and lots of wires coming into the building.  The roof has not survived. The door to the inside of this building is covered in tarpaper, and has a hand-painted sign on the door, still very visible: “NBC Station Chicago.” No metal huts, no supplemental generator sheds, no concrete floors: we have found the support building for the secondary radar installation on Long Island. A few feet beyond, we see the remains of its collapsed tower, built mostly from the trunks of trees (still rooted in the ground) like somebody’s tree house. All the equipment has long been removed from this tower, which was once forty feet high, and rose from the the top of a tall cliff. Because of the rotting tree trunks, time or the great quake knocked this tower down . Only the steel one on Castle Bluff  has weathered the years and the quake.

Campers explore one of the four Panama-mounted 155 mm gun circles of the Deer Point Coastal Battery, 1969. The wooden platform to the left held the machinery to turn the gun, and poking out of a small mound to the left rear, the remains of a tunnel between the guns is still visible.

The Deer Point 155 mm Coastal Battery:

The rest of Deer Point is almost anticlimactic. We break out of the forest into the open to see the rings of four 155 mm coastal defense guns (which had been on what is called “Panama mounts”). These were the first guns to be operational on Long Island, because they were fairly portable and easy to set up. There’s a lookout on the bluff above the gun rings, and as we backtrack down the road we bypassed on our secret journey, we pass two large metal ammunition bunkers. Their two steel tube entries look like two rusted tailpipes sticking out from under some gigantic sedan. Around the corner, the road hugs the cliff side, revealing a spectacular view of the other side of the bay, including the guns at Castle Bluff and the radar tower above the trees.  

On the way downhill, we explore a recreation hall, the only one positively identified on the island.  It is a big open room, with a nice wooden chair guard all around it, and un-military square windows, all of which are intact.  However, the foundation for this building is wooden posts rather than the standard-issue concrete pilings, and they have begun to sag.  The building has a precarious lean in the direction of a small valley, so we don’t stay long, and I notice that the jokers that were so anxious to shake the radar tower are gingerly stepping now.  Across the grassy roadbed is the most unusual cookhouse and mess hall on the island, built like a giant inverted L. The huge iceboxes and kitchen ranges stand rusting in the white-painted kitchen, with a large island in the center of the room, which serves for food preparation and as a serving counter, for it is open to a bright green painted, open-ceiling mess hall. It is the cheeriest of all the eating-places we have seen on the island, because of its almost homelike layout, but also because it once had a decent view of the bay before the spruce trees finally grew up around it.

South to Burt Point:

It’s a long hike back down the hill and on to the supper area at the end of Cook Bay, and exploring the south end of the island would normally have to wait for another day.  But since this is a virtual tour, for the sake of the story, I am of invincible stamina and will take you south as well! The south end has charms of its own. There are no large gun emplacements at all on the south end, but there are many lookout pillboxes and bunkers, that once housed huge searchlights and were armed with 50mm machine guns as well. It also is a very pretty hike through some spectacular parts of the island. So off we go, south on the grassy road behind the barracks, past a cute little log cabin that was probably built for officers’ use (and left un-camouflaged to give the appearance of an innocuous village). We pass a strange building a few hundred yards down the road: a partially collapsed, long structure with varnished wood-plank walls, a system of hooks and chains suspended from beams, and tons of sawdust on the floor. We have found Fort Tidball’s meat packing facility.  

Soon we pass Dolgoi Lake, the largest on the island, which was once the fort’s primary water supply. Pipes still protrude out of the concrete near the shoreline, where the pumping station once stood. At the far end of Dolgoi Lake, to the left as you continue south, are two features that you could almost miss if you weren’t looking for them. Amid a small forest of pushki plants, and covered with them as well, are two of those giant ammunition depots, similar to the one that’s near the command station at Deer Point. These ones are much closer to the cliffs they were blasted out of, and without close inspection, just look like irregular hillsides. The closest one to the lake is a sentimental favorite of mine, not because it looks any different, but because it has been a recording site for several years. Several times now, I have gone to this bunker and sang a few songs into my portable cassette recorder, and was very pleased with the results. One year I brought my guitar and a whole bunch of campers to this very bunker for the purpose of making use of its cathedral-like acoustics. We sang several songs, sounding quite naturally like angels, thanks to the army’s reverberating design. “Father I adore You, lay my life before You, how I love You!” What a wonderful bit of recycling, to use an abandoned instrument of war to make glorious music for the Prince of Peace!

The “music bunker” south of Dolgoi Lake, its rusting orange-painted door frozen open, and its exterior slowly being reclaimed by the forest.

There’s a long hike through the forest beyond the bunkers, but its military sparseness would fool you.  For up to the left, high on the ridge, is a marvelous two-story lookout pillbox, with a few windows intact, and a shipboard-style steep wooden staircase between the two levels. There’s an even larger multi-deck lookout on the northwest point of Long Island, but this one is still pretty cool. And naturally, the view from it is wide and spectacular, since that’s why it was built here. There are no visible huts nearby, so I wonder where the soldiers on duty here were housed. It’s an exhausting climb up a steep hill to reach it, so I give it a pass this time.

Suddenly the road takes a sharp turn to the left, and in front of us is the open ocean of the Gulf of Alaska and Chiniak Bay. To the side of the road is the remains of a large barbed-wire gate built on wooden stakes, a testament to the fact that this road is right at beach level. Barbed wire and sensing cords stretch on little metal curlicues up either side of the cliffs, to catch any enemy that may try to climb up from the beach.

Left: The double-decker lookout pillbox, on the cliff high above the road. Right: the razor wire strung along the face of the cliff. 1975 photos. Below: A group of three lookout pillboxes on the other tip of Long Island, facing north and west. Mom, Dad, and Kelly pose for me in 1967. The two left ones are double-decker, connected by a ladder.

I cross the log-clogged remains of the beach road to view yet another of those picture-perfect log cabins that dot Long Island. This one is strategically placed to double as a lookout for the beach, and like all the rest of them, is “set dressing” for any enemy spotter planes, who would miss the main buildings beneath the mosquito netting, and see only a quaint series of cabins. But it would have been a fantastic place for a real summer cottage, with its spectacular view of the beach, the cliffs beyond, and a little pond on the landward side of the road.

1969 photo, right. By 2005, only one wall remained standing

Finally we reach the main part of the south end, called Burt Point.  It’s an encampment of well preserved Quonset huts and support buildings in a little valley, with lookouts and searchlight bunkers on the cliffs above. Everything is rusty, and a few buildings have succumbed to a falling tree, but the south end facilities are in the best condition of any on the island, because the south end is more sheltered. The buildings are in a hollow with hills on all sides, and spruce trees all around. There have also been fewer visitors, and less vandalism and scrounging. It is typical in the 60’s and 70’s to find a building with the windows intact, light bulbs in the sockets, and with doors that still close and latch. There’s a “frozen in time” aspect to the south end.

Left: Burt Point Officers’ Quarters, 1975 photo.

The “business end” of Burt Point: one of several searchlight bunkers, which also housed 55 mm machine guns. Here one still has the wooden covering (left) and two intact inner doors (right).  1976 photos

Secrets and Splendor:

The south end is not without its secrets. In hiking through one of the little valleys on the west side of the island, south of Cook Bay, I once encountered a hidden installation. It was a security outpost, with a little guard shack high on the hill overlooking the valley, with a couple of almost perfect Quonset huts nestled in the trees on the valley floor.  The guard shack even had a rifle rack for the army sentries’ carbines. It never had a good view of the ocean, so it must have been there to guard the valley itself.  

Right: The interior of the hidden guardhouse, 1976 photo.The large tree outside would have afforded even more camouflage in the war years.

Since this is a simulated journey, I’ll take you on the most strenuous route back to Cook Bay: the overland route along the western edge of Long Island. There’s a pretty little lake just about opposite the Natural Arch on Woody Island, and the remains of a pump house on the south side. The shoreline near that lake has been identified as an Alutiiq archaeological site. From the lake back to the barracks complex there is not one sign of military activity.  That side of the island faces the Woody channel, and there are lookouts galore at either end of the island. The hike is considerably more difficult than following the Army road, because the west end of the island seems to be nothing but those spectacular cliffs and valleys that make Long Island so picturesque from the water. I’m almost exhausted when I finally climb the last hill and see the bay far below me in the distance. But I have found some absolutely spectacular scenery.  If there were no military remains on Long Island, it still would be one of the more spectacular sites for sheer natural beauty in the Kodiak area. I return to the others at Cook Bay tired, hungry and exhilarated. Something about Long Island brings out the energy and excitement in anyone who loves the great outdoors.

I never found any military remains on the southwest coast of Long Island, but it has some of the most spectacular views. Left: a photo from the highest cliff south of Cook Bay, looking north. The flats where the headquarters barracks stand and Cook Bay beyond it are visible on the top right. 1976 photo

The Evangel Departs:

We wearily pack our things up and head back to camp in the twilight.  The Evangel heads south, through the Woody-Long Island channel, around Garaboon Point, and back to the FAA dock on Woody Island. The sunset is breathtaking, but we are mostly too tired to appreciate it.  A whole bunch of campers will have no trouble sleeping tonight!  Long Island has cast its magic on all of us yet again!

Left: The Evangel with campers and their gear, on a clear morning in the summer of 1975. From a color print, photographer unknown.

The little “punt” in the background was an almost completely worthless vessel if any freight needed ferrying or if the weather was bad. Dad actually fell out of it once near the Woody Island dock, and walked to shore on the bottom until  he could wade to shore!

Right: The Evangel, same beach, but late in the evening in the summer of 1976. From a print, photographer unknown. It’s hard to tell if the campers are coming or going in these photos, but the photos are of Long Island, and they’re both pretty shots, so here they are. 1976 was the last year of the Evangel’s regular involvement with Camp Woody, except to take Debbie and me from Woody Island to Kodiak on our wedding day. But a lot of campers were glad for the return of the Evangel (1973 - 1976), when Norm Smith ran the boat for the campers.

Epilogue For Long Island:

A hundred years from now, all traces of the wooden buildings will be gone except for an occasional set of concrete pilings. The Quonset huts will each be an indecipherable pile of rust, as some of them are already. Someday, very little will remain of the once mighty Fort Tidball. But the bunkers will still rest peacefully in their hillsides, their great doors forever open, and the eagles will still soar above the cliffs and nest in the trees beside crumbling lookout pillboxes. The bright waters of the lakes and ponds will reflect the dark green spruce trees.  The waves will still crash beneath Castle Bluff. And people will probably be captivated, as I always will, by the island fortress that nature has reclaimed. Long Island is truly one of Alaska’s great treasures.

The sun sets over the “Three Sisters” Mountains in this colorized photo taken from the top of the radar tower at Castle Bluff, Fort Tidball, Long Island, Alaska. 1972 photo.

Goodbye From Historic Fort Tidball.

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