Cape Elizabeth, Chugach Islands

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Cape Elizabeth, Chugach Islands

by | Nov 8, 2019

Elizabeth Island is about 3 miles (4.8 km) across, and along with Perl Island and East Chugach Island, it is one of the three Chugach Islands located on the north side of Kennedy Entrance about 36 miles (58 km) south-southwest of Homer, Alaska. In 1778, Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy named the western headland “Cape Elizabeth” because he did not realize the point was on an island. In 1779, the island was named “Isla San Aniceto” by Captain Arteaga of the Spanish Navy. It was later changed to “Elizabeth Island” by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Ignacio de Arteaga y Bazán was an officer of the Spanish Navy who was given command of an expedition to Alaska in 1779. Two frigates were assigned, the Favorita, commanded by Arteaga, and the Princesa, under Bodega y Quadra. The expedition’s objective was to evaluate the Russian colonization of Alaska, search for a Northwest Passage, and capture James Cook if they found him in Spanish waters. Arteaga and Bodega y Quadra did not find Cook, who had been killed in Hawaii earlier that year. The two frigates sailed directly from San Blas to Bucareli Bay, Alaska over 81 days, and then headed north to present-day Port Etches on Hinchinbrook Island where they performed a possession ceremony. Arteaga and Bodega y Quadra also explored Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula where another possession ceremony was performed in Port Chatham.

Today, Elizabeth Island has a few seasonal inhabitants occupying cabins on the northwest coast, and Cape Elizabeth has a lighted navigation aid on a tower 48 feet (15 m) above sea level, with a diamond-shaped red and white daymark warning mariners of a submerged rock 0.4 mile (0.7 km) west of the cape. Read more here and here. Explore more of Cape Elizabeth here:

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