WWII Gun Emplacements

A horseshoe shaped embankment in the forest, covered in thick moss.
The U.S. Army was active in the park in 1942. In the week leading up to the attack on Dutch Harbor, they fortified the peninsula in the park by adding gun emplacements like this one.

To this day, a mystery hides among the forest floor along Totem Trail on the park’s peninsula. Remnants of eight earthworks representing WWII-era gun emplacements commemorate the only official U.S. Military presence in the park’s history. The U.S. Army took over the park in 1941 and moved out in 1943, but no official record or map of these gun emplacements exists. During the 2005-2008 archaeological inventory, researchers uncovered some information about these gun emplacements. In total, there are eight earthworks from west to east on the park’s peninsula. The emplacements occur in two types: larger crescent or V-shaped earthworks and smaller semi-circular ones. The larger are consistent with artillery gun emplacements, where soldiers would operate large guns or anti-aircraft weaponry. The smaller pits provided small arms and light machine gun protection for these larger artillery batteries. Though these arms never came to fire, they provided for the defense of Sitka Sound in the event of a Japanese amphibious landing force along the narrow shoreline of the park. The U.S. Army vacated the park in 1943, removing the equipment and personnel and leaving behind only the raised earth entrenchments from which their defensive guns pointed toward the ocean.

Last updated: April 17, 2018

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