Saxman was founded in the late 19th century when residents of the traditional Tlingit villages of Cape Fox and Tongass decided to consolidate their communities at a new build site on Revillagigedo Island, where they could share a new schoolhouse constructed through Federal appropriations. Saxman was named after a Presbyterian teacher, Samuel Saxman, who was lost in a canoe accident while seeking the new village build site. Also lost in the same accident were a Tongass villager named Wah Koo Se, and Louis Paul, a half-french, half-Tlingit teacher from Tongass, and father of Alaska Native Civil Rights movement leader William Paul. By 1894, the new village site was chosen, ideally located on a protected harbor off the Tongass Narrows. A small sawmill was built, and construction of the school and houses began immediately. Fishing and cutting lumber for the growing towns of Saxman and Ketchikan were the economic mainstays of the new village. By 1900, 142 people were living in Saxman. In 1929, the community incorporated as a city. During the 1930s, many totem poles and ceremonial artifacts, such as carvings and masks, were retrieved by the Civilian Conservation Corps from the abandoned villages at Cape Fox, Tongass, Cat Island, and Pennock Island. Totem poles were restored and relocated to Saxman as part of a U.S. Forest Service program. The Saxman Totem Park has become a major attraction for Ketchikan area visitors. The park includes a tribal house, a carving center, and a cultural hall for traditional Tlingit dance exhibitions.
Location & Climate
Saxman is located on the west side of Revillagigedo Island, 2 miles south of Ketchikan on the South Tongass Highway. It lies at approximately 55.318330 North Latitude and -131.595830 West Longitude. (Sec. 33, T075S, R091E, Copper River Meridian.) Saxman is located in the Ketchikan Recording District. The area encompasses 1.0 sq. miles of land and 0.0 sq. miles of water. Saxman lies in the maritime climate zone noted for its warm winters, cool summers, and heavy precipitation. Average summer temperatures range from 46 to 59 °F; average winter temperatures range from 29 to 48 °F. The record high temperature is 97 °F; the record low is -4 °F. Precipitation averages 163 inches per year, with 69 inches of snow. *State of AK, DOT AMHS.
411 (US Census)
2nd Class City incorporated in 1929. The City currently employs 10 staff members. Regular elections are held the 1st Tuesday of October. City Council meets every 3rd Wednesday.
Ketchikan Public Utilities. Power source: hydro & diesel. In November of 2010 the small commercial rate for 1,500kWh/month was $0.0897 with a monthly fee of $36.00. (JEDC Asset Mapping Report)
Water & Sewer Utilities
Water is derived from a dammed reservoir, is treated and stored in a 128,000-gal tank. The City of Saxman operates a piped water and sewer system. All homes are plumbed. A few homes use individual septic tanks.
Refuse is collected by a private company and disposed of at the Ketchikan landfill.
Saxman and Ketchikan are connected by the South Tongass Highway. A dock and commercial barge off-loading facilities are available at the Saxman Seaport.
The community relies on Ketchikan for its boat moorage, air travel, and State ferry services.
Ketchikan General Hospital and other facilities located in Ketchikan.
Federally Recognized Tribe
Organized Village of Saxman. (Village Council; Bureau of Indian Affairs-Recognized Indian Reorganization Act Council)
Cape Fox Corporation. (Village Corporation; Ketchikan and Saxman)
Other Community Buildings
Cape Fox Heritage Building, Beaver Tribal House, Saxman Totem Park containing a carving house, cultural hall and tribal house.