John W Clark

book cover showing a watercolor painting of a lake and hills, with a small black and white inset photo of a man from the late 1800s. Book title reads: The Life and Times of John W. Clark of Nushagak, Alaska,, 1846-1896,

"Eureka . . . spread out before us, was the great white expanse of Lake Clark. For so I named this beautiful expanse of water, in honor of my traveling companion. Clark and I shook hands in mutual congratulations, and our boys formed a smiling group in spite of their sore trials." -A.B. Schanz, 1891

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black and white head shot photo of a man with curly hair and a mustache wearing a suit.
The earliest known photograph of John W. Clark, circa 1870.

Photo courtesy of Mr & Mrs Dennis Herrmann and Mr & Mrs Herman Herrmann, Jr.


Despite having Lake Clark, Lake Clark Pass, and Clark's Point named after him, John W. Clark remained an enigma for over a century, seemingly lost to the annuls of time. Now for the first time, park historian John Branson sheds light on the park's namesake in this biography of a pioneer of nineteenth century western Alaska.

Though his early years remain largely obscure, his adult life offers a fascinating glimpse into nineteenth century Alaska as it emerged from the control of Russia and became part of the United States. Clark was a participant of many important enterprises in western Alaska, beginning by at least the summer of 1866 in St. Michael. He was one of the first permanent Euroamerican residents of Alaska, the first permanent English-speaking resident in the Bristol Bay region, and one of the very first resident "snow-birds" of Alaska.

Publication Details

Author: John Branson, historian for Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Publisher: National Park Service
1st Edition: 2012

Last updated: December 14, 2017

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 227
Port Alsworth , AK 99653


907 644-3626

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