About This Place
Petersburg (Tlingit: "Steamboat Canyon") is a city in Petersburg Census Area, Alaska, in the United States. According to 2009 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 2,824 full time residents.
The north end of Mitkof Island was a summer fish camp utilized by Kake Tlingits from Kupreanof Island. Remnants of fish traps and some petroglyphs have been carbon-dated back some 2,000 years. Alaskan Natives began living year-round at the site, including Chief John Lot. Petersburg was named after Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant who arrived in the late 1890s and homesteaded on the north end of the island. He built a cannery (thanks to the plentiful number of icebergs from the nearby LeConte Glacier which would provide a source for cooling fish), a sawmill, and a dock between 1890 and 1900. His family's homesteads grew into Petersburg which, by 1910 was incorporated and was populated largely by people of Scandinavian origin thus giving Petersburg the nickname "Little Norway". May 17 (Norwegian Constitution Day) is celebrated annually in Petersburg on the third weekend in May. The cannery, along with three others have operated continuously since their completion.
A major year in Petersburg history was 1965 and the founding of Icicle Seafoods. Petersburg fishermen Gordon Jensen and Magnus Martens teamed up with managers Tom Thompson and Bob Thorstenson, Sr. to spearhead a group of fishermen to purchase the Pacific American Fisheries(PAF) plant in a then-declining seafood industry. PAF was traded on the NYSE and had been one of the largest processors in Alaska for a half century. The same, original Bushmann cannery was now in good hands. The shareholders, including Board members Fred File, Fred Haltiner, Jr., Robin Leekley, Jeff Pfundt, Aril Mathisen, Bud Samuelson and many others ( Hofstads, Otness, Petersons to name a few) set out for a journey to create, improve and institute fisheries that sustain Petersburg and many other coastal communities in Alaska today. The company was originally known as PFI but was officially changed to Icicle Seafoods in 1977.