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Dock at North Beach

In the 1940s Seward provided a strategic year-round staging area for supplies and troops moving through Alaska. Located about 75 miles south of Anchorage (100 miles by railroad), Seward is nestled on the northern shore of Resurrection Bay. Due to the importance of this supply line, Seward was to receive a total of four gun batteries, although only two were completed before the Coast Artillery abandoned the harbor defenses in 1944.

The pre-war defenses of Resurrection Bay consisted of one battery of four mobile 155-mm guns. After the United States entry into WWII, permanent mounts were constructed at Rocky Point for the 155-mm guns. Soon after, the Army approved plans for three new batteries, two 6-inch batteries and one 90-mm AMTB battery. Also approved were numerous fire control stations and searchlight emplacements.

One of the new 6-inch batteries was sited atop Caines Head, a large point of land about halfway into the bay. The other was to be built on the southern most tip of Rugged Island at an elevation of almost 700 feet. Construction proceeded slowly, hampered by the rugged terrain and harsh northern weather, but by the end of 1943 the 90-mm battery at Lowell Point and several of the fire control stations had been transferred to the troops. Construction on the larger batteries continued at a slower pace, and in 1944 both were abandoned at more than 90% completion.

After the war, most of the military lands near Seward were returned to the civilian government. The Caines Head area has been designated as a state recreation area, and several of the old army roads are maintained as hiking trails.

With the exception of Battery Const. #293 at Caines Head, the defenses of Seward receive few visitors. Many installations are accessible only by boat and are difficult to locate in the thick vegetation. Due to the inaccessible nature of these sites, their state of preservation is quite impressive.


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