When Capt. George Vancouver sailed through Icy Strait in 1794, Glacier Bay was completely covered by the Grand Pacific Glacier. Over the next century, the glacier retreated some 40 miles, and a spruce-hemlock forest began to develop. By 1916, it had retreated 65 miles from the position observed by Vancouver in 1794. Gustavus is located on a flat area formed by the outwash from the glacier, and the area is still growing. Gustavus began as an agricultural homestead in 1914. It was once known as Strawberry Point due to the abundant wild strawberries. The current name was derived from Point Gustavus, which lies 7 miles to the southwest. Glacier Bay National Monument (including Gustavus) was established by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. After many appeals, the homesteaders were able to keep their land, and the Gustavus area was excluded from the monument. It became a national park in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Gustavus has a seasonal economy; the Glacier Bay National Park attracts a large number of tourists and recreation enthusiasts during the summer months. Gustavus is a community with a number of seasonal-use homes. The nearby Glacier Bay National Park is a major recreation and tourist attraction in Southeast. Many of the residents who have relocated here chose Gustavus for the lifestyle, the nearness to natural resources, the beauty of the area, and for the subsistence activities available.
Location & Climate
Gustavus lies on the north shore of Icy Passage at the mouth of the Salmon River in the St. Elias Mountains, 48 air miles northwest of Juneau. It is surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on three sides and the waters of Icy Passage on the south. Glacier Bay National Park is 3.3 million acres and offers 16 tidewater glaciers. The community lies at approximately 58.413330° North Latitude and -135.736940° West Longitude. The area encompasses 29.2 sq. miles of land and 10.0 sq. miles of water. The area's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 52 to 63 °F and winter temperatures from 26 to 39 °F. *State of AK, DOT AMHS.
442 (2010 US Census)
Class City incorporated in 2004. The City currently employs 4 staff. Regular elections are held every 1st
Tuesday of October. The City Council meets every 2nd
Thursday of the month. The city sales tax is currently 2%. www.gustavus.com/index.html
Gustavus Electric Company (Private). Power source: hydroelectric supplemented by diesel as needed. Kilowatt capacity: 800. In November of 2010 the small commercial rate for 1,500kWh/month was $0.3899 with a monthly fee of $12.31. (JEDC Asset Mapping Report) The Falls Creek Hydro Electric Project is an 800 kWh run-of-river hydroelectric facility which will provide electric power to the community of Gustavus. The project is displacing existing diesel generation. Construction of the project is approximately 90% complete and will provide 90% of the community's electric needs. Gustavus has requested the necessary funding to complete the final stages of this project; $750,000.
Water & Sewer Utilities
Water is either individually collected by private wells or from a community well. School purchases water from the US Park Service. Individual septic systems are also used. Concerns have been raised about water safety, due to shallow wells and individual septic systems.
City-operated landfill with no refuse collection program.
State-owned and operated airport with two runways: a 6,721'x150’ and 3,146’x60’ asphalt runways. Seaplane base located 10 miles outside of town in Bartlett Cove. There is a 10 mile road connection to Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park.
Accessible by small aircraft, personal watercraft, and Alaska Marine Highway System. Alaska Airlines provides daily flights in the summer months.
The Gustavus School is within the Chatham Schools District, it provides Kindergarten through 12th grade. Student-teacher ratio: 8:1. Enrollment for the 2010-11 school year was 42.
Gustavus Community Clinic. This clinic is a qualified Emergency Care Center. Gustavus Volunteer Fire Department, emergency services provided volunteers.
Other Community Buildings
GCA Community Building, GCA Public Library
Community Economic Development Projects
A list of Economic Development Projects was not submitted for the 2011 year.