Official State of Alaska Vacation and Travel Information


Aleutian World War II National Historic Site  

Aleutian World War II National Historic Site

This fort dates back to WWII, commemorating one of the few sites attacked by the enemy

In 1939 the U.S. military began fortifying Dutch Harbor/Unalaska for a possible attack by the Japanese; that attack came on June 3-4, 1942. 

The two-day air attack not only heavily destroyed this Aleutian Island seaport but made it one of the few places in the country to be bombed during World War II. The Japanese continued the campaign by invading and occupying two western Aleutian Islands that year and when the Americans re-took them in 1943 the bloody clash was the first battle on American soil since the War of 1812. This little-known chapter of War World II history eventually became known as the "Forgotten War" and in 1996 the 134-acre Aleutian World War II National Historic Area was established so nobody ever would forget.

The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area encompasses the historic footprint of the U.S. Army base Fort Schwatka. Located on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Archipelago of Alaska, the fort was one of four coastal defense posts built to protect Dutch Harbor (the back door to the United States) during World War II. The fort is also the highest coastal battery ever constructed in the United States at 897 feet.

The Park is located on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Island chain, 800 miles west of Anchorage, the nearest urban center. It can be reached by air through commercial and charter flights from Anchorage, or by ocean through the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The Aleutian Islands are known for fast changing weather, so it is advisable to be prepared. Rain, fog, and high winds are typical conditions during the summer months. Winter months are characterized by wet, snowy, and cold conditions. People visiting the islands will want to bring warm clothing and good rain gear.

The Aleutian World War II Visitor Center is located at the Unalaska airport. The center is approximately 0.7 miles from the cruise ship docks, and 1.1 miles from the Grand Aleutian Hotel.

Time has taken its toll on the features of Fort Schwatka, and visitors should be aware of the hazards that exist within the National Historic Area. This site preserves bunkers that are still in excellent condition; however, many tunnel entrances leading into the bunkers are unstable or have collapsed. Many of the floors were constructed of wood that has rotted over the years. There is no electricity on Ulakta Head and the underground buildings and tunnels are dark. Visitors are advised to enter into these tunnels and bunkers at their own risk. Cliff edges and collapsed tunnels may be hidden by dense fog.

Soldiers deployed anti-personnel stakes throughout the area during World War II, and some of these still remain in the ground hidden underneath vegetation. Stepping or falling on these stakes could lead to serious injuries.  Visitors are advised to remain on the roads and trails to prevent unnecessary injuries, as well as to closely supervise children and pets while in the park.

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