This protected, flask-shaped harbor was originally called "Gunkhole" by fishermen anchoring here. It’s safe anchorage and proximity to the Cross Sound and Fairweather fishing grounds made this a natural spot for fish buyers and suppliers. Ernie Swanson built a store, restaurant, and dock here in the 1920s. His wife Ruth applied for a post office in 1935 and gave it the new name of Elfin Cove. John Lowell, another fish buyer, arrived in the 1940s and built a second dock, warehouse, store, and restaurant.
Elfin Cove is historically a fish‐buying and supply center for the commercial fishing fleet. More recently sport fishing and tourism have emerged as key economic components. Most residents participate in commercial fishing, sport fishing, tourism lodging or charter services, so the economy is highly seasonal. Summer lodges and local retail businesses also provide seasonal employment. Economic growth is limited primarily by the availability of cost effective energy and transportation.
The community of Elfin Cove is working diligently to continue to make Elfin Cove a vital and viable place for its residents, and to make Elfin Cove a beatiful and inspiring place for people to visit.
Location & Climate: Elfin Cove lies on the northern shore of Chichagof Island, approximately 33 miles west of Hoonah and 70 miles by air and 85 miles by boat west of Juneau. The community is only accessible by small seaplane or boat. It lies at approximately 58.194440 North Latitude and -136.343330 West Longitude. (Sec. 25, T042S, R055E, Copper River Meridian.) Elfin Cove is located in the Sitka Recording District. The area's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 52 to 63; °F winter temperatures range from 26 to 39 °F. *State of AK, DOT AMHS.
2011 Population: 20 (US Census)
Government: Elfin Cove is an unincorporated community and there are no city or borough officials or offices. www.elfincove.com
Electric Utility: Elfin Cove Utility Commission. Power source: diesel. Kilowatt capacity: 354. In November of 2010 the small commercial rate for 1,500kWh/month was $0.4200. (JEDC Asset Mapping Report) A hydroelectric project has been engineered and the community is seeking funding. This hydroelectric power plant and associated infrastructure for access and connection will serve the entire community of Elfin Cove.Upon completion, the hydroelectric facility will include: a 1,000-foot long diversion conduit; a 1,300-foot long penstock to tidewater; and upgrades to the hydro power house. A funding request has been submitted by the community for the final design and FERC permitting in the amount of $347,000. The price of home heating fuel in May 2012 was $5.10 per gallon.
Water & Sewer Utilities: Homes are fully plumbed and served from a community installed spring water system. Waste water is managed individually by beach outfall or septic tank with beach outfall.
Solid Waste: Due to the geography of the area, a landfill does not exist and is not feasible. To address this, community has started talks with a local barge company and the Southeast Alaska Solid Waste Authority.
Transportation Facilities: State‐owned seaplane base. State operated small boat harbor with moorage for 25 vessels. Primary means of local transportation is by skiff. There are no roads; a boardwalk runs throughout the community. Seaplanes can access the community, and private boats are a main mode of transportation.
Transportation Services: Accessible by seaplane with a float available and small boat. There are government dock facilities.
Schools: Due to declining enrollment the school was closed for the 1998/99 school year and currently there is one school aged child in the community.
Health Care: No health care facilities are located in this community. Elfin Cove EMS office - recent equipment upgrades and continuous training of EMS volunteers. One EMS responder and several first aid helpers are present in the community.
Other Community Buildings: Laundry, shower and public phone installed in the community shop.