Alaska’s Little Norway was founded more than 100 years ago by Norwegian anglers. Petersburg was named after Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant who arrived in the late 1890s and homesteaded on the north end of Mitkof Island. He built a cannery, a sawmill and a dock between 1890 and 1900. His family’s homesteads grew into Petersburg, which was populated largely by people of Scandinavian origin. The cannery has operated continuously since its completion. Petersburg is now one of Alaska’s major fishing communities.
Petersburg, with a current population of 2,973 permanent residents (according to the latest census), lies off the main sea routes used by larger cruise ships, but some small-ship cruise lines include it as a port of call. A visit to Petersburg provides some insight into the character of a true Alaskan town-isolated, with an obvious spirit of community and self-sufficiency. There is an opportunity for sight seeing via floatplane or helicopter over nearby Le Conte Glacier (weather permitting) and for hikes on forest trails. Cruise out to look for whales in the south part of Frederick Sound , which is often a virtual sculpture garden of grounded icebergs.