Kenai, Alaska

Kenai Business Signs

Kenai is located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula (predictably).  Before Russian settlement, the Kachemak people originally inhabited this area from 1000 B.C., to around 1000 A.D., when they were displaced by the Dena’ina Athabaskan people.  The Dena’ina established a village where Kenai would eventually stand.  They called it ‘Shk’ituk’t,’ which means ‘where we slide down.’  Russian fur traders arrived in the area in 1741.

There are two competing theories concerning how the town gained its current name.  According to the Dena’ina Topical Dictionary by James Kari, Ph.D., which was published in 2007, the name was derived from the local Dena’ina (Tanaina) word ‘ken’ or ‘kena,’ which means ‘flat, meadow, open area with few trees’ base, low ridge.’  “This describes the area along the mouth and portion of the Kenai River near the current City of Kenai.”  However, the other theory for how the town got its name argues the Russian fur traders referred to the Dena’ina natives in the area as “Kenaitze”, which is apparently a Russian term for “people of the flats.”

As reported by The Pacific Northwest Quarterly in 1999, “in 1786, Pytor Zaikov built Fort Nikolaevskaia for the Lebedev-Lastochkin Company on the site of modern Kenai.”  It was the first European settlement on the Alaskan mainland.  In 1797, hostilities between these invaders and the natives bubbled over and the Dena’ina attacked Fort St. Nicholas.  In a cataclysmic event later known as ‘The Battle of Kenai,’ over one hundred people (both Russians and Dena’ina) lost their lives.

Following the Alaska Purchase, the United States Army established a post called Fort Kenay in 1869.  It was soon abandoned.  In 1888, though, a prospector named Alexander King discovered gold on the Kenai Peninsula.  The population, of course, soared.  Despite all this excitement, the town of Kenai, Alaska wouldn’t be officially incorporated until May 10th, 1960.  According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, Kenai, Alaska has a total of 7,100 residents.  This makes it the 7th most populous city in the state.

Arguably the most iconic natural landmark in the Kenai, Alaska area is Mount Redoubt, or Redoubt Volcano.  As one could expect, Redoubt Volcano is an active stratovolcano in the largely volcanic Aleutian Range.  Mount Redoubt is located at the head of the Chigmit Mountains subrange in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.  Redoubt has an elevation of 10,197 ft. (3,108 m).

The most prominent man-made landmark in the town of Kenai, Alaska must most assuredly be Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church.  Holy Assumption is a Russian Orthodox church listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  This U.S. National Historic Landmark, which was completed in 1896, is still a member of the Orthodox Church in America Diocese of Alaska and is the oldest standing Orthodox church in Alaska.

Kenai, Alaska is home to no professional sports franchises.  However, in 1985, “a world record largest sport-caught Chinook (or ‘king’) salmon was taken from the Kenai River, weighing in at 97 lbs 4 oz.”  In fact, “eight of the ten largest king salmons caught in the world have come from the…river.”  As one could guess, this has made Kenai a prime fishing destination.

Kenai, Alaska also has musical connections as well.  36 Crazyfists, an Alaskan-based metal band named after a Jackie Chan movie, has a guitarist, Steve Holt (seriously), who is a Kenai native.  36 Crazyfists even has a song named after the town, describing happy memories made there.

Do you by any chance own a small business in the Kenai, Alaska area?  Are you considering beginning one?  These resources could aid you in such an endeavor:

Apply for a Business License in Kenai, Alaska:

Doing Business in the City of Kenai, Alaska:

Kenai Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center:

Looking for Kenai business signs?
Advertize your small business! Get in touch with one of our authorized member sign shops:

Lasertech Alaska
Anchorage, AK
Neal Schlee