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Alaska Cruises Kenai, Alaska (KEY-nigh)
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Current Population: 7,100 (2010)
Borough Located In: Kenai Peninsula Borough
Taxes: 3% Sales, 3% Borough

Location and Climate
Kenai is located on the western coast of the Kenai Peninsula, fronting Cook Inlet. It lies on the western boundary of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, on the Kenai Spur Highway. It is approximately 65 air miles and 155 highway miles southwest of Anchorage via the Sterling Highway. The community lies at approximately 60.554440° North Latitude and 151.258330° West Longitude (Sec. 05, T005N, R011W, Seward Meridian). Kenai is located in the Kenai Recording District. The area encompasses 29.9 sq. miles of land and 5.6 sq. miles of water.

Winter temperatures range from 4 to 22; summer temperatures vary from 46 to 65. Average annual precipitation is 20 inches.

History, Culture and Demographics
Prior to Russian settlement, Kenai was a Dena'ina Athabascan Indian village. Russian fur traders first arrived in 1741. At that time, about 1,000 Dena'ina lived in the village of Shk'ituk't, near the River. The traders called the people "Kenaitze," or "Kenai people." In 1791, a fortified Russian trading post, Fort St. Nicholas, was constructed for fur and fish trading. It was the second permanent Russian settlement in Alaska. In 1849, the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church was established by Egumen Nicholai. In 1869 the U.S. military established a post for the Dena'ina Indians in the area, called Fort Kenay, which was abandoned in 1870 after Alaska was purchased by the U.S. A post office was established in 1899. Through the 1920s, commercial fishing was the primary activity. In 1940, homesteading enabled the area to develop. The first dirt road from Anchorage was constructed in 1951. In 1957, oil was discovered at Swanson River, 20 miles northeast of Kenai - the first major Alaska oil strike. The City was incorporated in 1960. In 1965, offshore oil discoveries in Cook Inlet fueled a period of rapid growth. Kenai has been a growing center for oil exploration, production and services since that time.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. The Kenai River is a major sport fishing location for Anchorage residents and tourists. The river is world-renowned for trophy king and silver salmon. The Kenaitze (Tanaina Athabascans) live borough-wide and utilize the rich resources of Cook Inlet.

According to Census 2010, there were 3,166 housing units in the community and 2,809 were occupied. Its population was 8.9 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 79.9 percent white; 0.7 percent black; 1.5 percent Asian; 0.3 percent Pacific Islander; 7.9 percent of the local residents had multi-racial backgrounds. Additionally, 4.5 percent of the population was of Hispanic decent.

Economy and Transportation
The city is the center of the oil and gas industry, providing services and supplies for Cook Inlet's oil and natural gas drilling and exploration. Tesoro Alaska's oil refining operations and Unocal's urea plant are located in North Kenai. Both in-state and out-of-state visitors provide a significant industry on the Peninsula. Other important economic sectors include sport, subsistence and commercial fishing, fish processing, timber and lumber, agriculture, transportation services, construction and retail trade. 234 area residents hold commercial fishing permits. The largest employers are the Borough School District, Unocal, Peak Oilfield Services, the Borough, and Central Peninsula General Hospital. The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska was completed in Spring 2000. Logging of spruce bark beetle-killed timber also occurs in the area.

Kenai is accessible by the Sterling Highway to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Canada and the lower 48 states. The City-owned Kenai Municipal Airport provides a 7,575' asphalt runway, a 2,000' gravel strip, a float plane strip, and helicopter service. A Flight Service Station is available. Float plane facilities are also available at Island Lake and Arness Lake. There are five additional privately-owned airstrips in the vicinity. The Kenai City Dock and boat ramp are located near the mouth of the Kenai River. There are also a number of private commercial fish processing docks. Moorage is by buoys anchored in the Kenai River.

Kenai Visitor Information and Recommend Activities


Kenai Lodging, Hotels and Bed & Breakfast


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Alaska: A History of the 49th State by Claus-M Naske and Herman E. Slotnick
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Did You Know?
City Of Anchorage. In 1915 President Woodrow Wilson authorized funds for the construction of the Alaska Railroad. Ship Creek Landing was selected as the headquarters of this effort. A Tent City sprang up in the wilderness at the mouth of Ship Creek, and soon swelled to a population of over 2,000. On July 9, 1915, the Anchorage townsite auction was held, and over 600 lots were sold. Although the area had been known by various names, in this same year the U.S. Post Office Department formalized the use of the name Anchorage, and despite some protests the name stuck.
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