If we are anywhere near on schedule I should be in Tenakee Springs today. Tenakee is one of those places in the world that is just special. The town is quite simple, a single line of homes and a few businesses along the shore for about one mile. The center of town is found at the seaplane dock and the general store. At the far eastern end, half a mile down the shoreline, are the state docks where anyone can tie up a boat for a small nightly fee.

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Google Map of Tenakee Springs
The town has one main road, unpaved, where almost all the traffic is on foot. A few ATV’s, wheelbarrows and pushcarts haul groceries and other cargo. There are a couple trucks in town, one is a large pickup with a water tank that serves as the local firetruck. A daily float-plane run connects the town with the rest of the world. The only other way to get to Tenakee is by boat, taking most of a day to get from Juneau.

There really are springs at Tenakee, wonderful hot springs that supply water just right for bathing. The springs are the reason why the town is located here, endless hot water available to douse the cold of an Alaskan winter. To take advantage of this water there is a public bathhouse constructed over the main spring. Male and female bathing is handled by alternating hours of access. Sitting in the bath and enjoying the water one evening I was talking to one of the local guys, he made the comment of having “seen half the town naked, the wrong half!”

Tenakee Springs is a place where man lives, but nature rules. Stray very far out of town and you quickly enter wilderness. This remains the only place I have had a close encounter with a grizzly bear, way too close, just a 100yards from the state marina while on the beach. There is a great story there, one I will save for another time.

The general store is a place that would not have been out of place in most towns of the American west back in the 1930′ or 1940’s. A clapboard building found right in the center of town on the waterfront, right next to the float plane dock and the helipad. A single large room with a small selection of all the necessities. One wall serves as a gift shop and gallery for local artists, selling watercolors and other artwork to those of us who are just visiting.

Looking forward to returning here, taking a bath in the hot spring, and generally enjoying a bit of rural Alaska.

Tenakee Springs
The town of Tenakee Springs, Alaska, 1 July 2004

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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