False Pass, Alaska
Name: False Pass is a city in Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, United States. False Pass is an early English name for Isanotski Strait on which the City of False Pass is located. The strait was called “False Pass” by early American sailing ship captains because it was thought to be impassable for their deep draft vessels at the northern end. Isanostski Strait is called "The Pass" by fishermen in the area.
Historical Name: Before the arrival of the English-speaking sailors, the pass was called Isanax (variously spelled Issannakh, Isanak etc.) which is the Aleut name for present day Isanotski Strait. Isanax means gap, hole, rent, or tear <strait, pass> in the Aleut language which was rendered as Isanotski (or Issanakskie, Isanotskoi, Isanakh etc) in transliterated Russian. The strait appears as Исанакъ in 1802 and Исаноцкый in 1844 on Russian maps.
Isanotski Strait lies between the tip of the Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island, the first of the Aleutian Islands and it connects the northern Gulf of Alaska with the Bering Sea. This strait was used for safe passage for millennia by Aleuts and later by the Russians during their occupation of the area. The strait is used today by most vessels less than 200 feet in length traveling to and from northern Alaska and points in southwest and southeast Alaska and the “lower 48” states. The common nickname for Isanotski Strait throughout southwest Alaska is "The Pass".
Official Status: A salmon cannery was built on the Unimak Island side of Isanotski Strait in 1919 which provided the nucleus for the modern community. A U.S. post office with the name of "False Pass" was established in 1921 at the salmon cannery which gave official status to the village. It was incorporated as a second class city in 1990. 1
The Geographic coordinates for False Pass, Alaska are:
54°49′40″N 163°23′57″W (54.827886, -163.399090)
The central residential area of False Pass is located in a broad valley with Roundtop Volcano at its western end. This picture was taken from the beach, looking west. The brown house is built on the location of the original settlers. The school and residential subdivision are located just beyond these houses. Click on picture to see a larger version.