Behm Canal

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Behm Canal sits within Misty Fjords National Monument and the Tongass National Forest. Glaciers carved this natural channel. The Behm Canal stretches for 108 miles through the Alexander Archipelago.

President Carter declared Misty Fiords a national monument in 1978 under the Antiquities Act. Then the state of Alaska fought the federal government over land rights. Under the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the designation changed to Misty Fjords National Monument. And it also reduced the monument’s size slightly.

Historically, the Tlingit people occupied this region. Their history dates back almost 10,000 years.

Europeans first visited the area over 200 years ago. George Vancouver surveyed the Behm Canal in 1793. He named it for Magnus von Behm. Behm was governor of Kamchatka in 1779 when Vancouver arrived on Captain Cook’s ill-fated expedition. Cook had been killed in Hawaii. Then Behm carried news of his death back to Britain.

The Behm Canal separates Revillagigedo Island from the mainland. The U.S Navy tests acoustics for its submarines here. The canal is an ideal setting for an underwater acoustic test range. Because it is shielded from the ocean and most vessel traffic, there is less ambient noise.

As we traveled up the deep channel towards New Eddystone on the St. Nona, we saw eagles and porpoises. The naturalist on board told us all about Vancouver’s survey. He also spoke about the Tlingit, the geology and wildlife.

Ketchikan posts

Location: East of Ketchikan, Alaska
Designation: National Monument
Date designated/established: December 5, 1978
Date of my visit: June 1, 2022

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