Dillingham is located at the extreme
northern end of Nushagak Bay in northern Bristol Bay, at the confluence
of the Wood and Nushagak Rivers. It lies 327 miles southwest of
Anchorage, and is a 6 hour flight from Seattle. It lies at approximately
59░ 02' N Latitude, 158░ 27' W Longitude (Sec. 21, T013S, R055W, Seward
Meridian). The community is located in the Bristol Bay Recording
District. The area encompasses 33 sq. miles of land and 2 sq. miles of
area around Dillingham was inhabited by both Eskimos and Athabascans and
became a trade center when Russians erected the Alexandrovski Redoubt
(Post) in 1818. Local Native groups and Natives from the Kuskokwim
Region, the Alaska Peninsula and Cook Inlet mixed together as they came
to visit or live at the post. The community was known as Nushagak by
1837, when a Russian Orthodox mission was established. In 1881 the U.S.
Signal Corps established a meteorological station at Nushagak. In 1884
the first salmon cannery in the Bristol Bay region was constructed by
Arctic Packing Co., east of the site of modern-day Dillingham. Ten more
were established within the next seventeen years. The post office at
Snag Point and town were named after U.S. Senator Paul Dillingham in
1904, who had toured Alaska extensively with his Senate subcommittee
during 1903. The 1918-19 influenza epidemic struck the region, and left
no more than 500 survivors. A hospital and orphanage were established in
Kanakanak after the epidemic, 6 miles from the present-day City Center.
The Dillingham townsite was first surveyed in 1947.