Valdez-Cordova Census Area
census area is up for adoption...
Communities [populations in brackets]:
|Copper Center 
||Kenny Lake 
||Mentasta Lake 
||Silver Springs 
|Willow Creek 
The Valdez-Cordova Census Area is situated along Prince William Sound. This
census area encompasses a total area of 40,199 square miles; 34,319 square miles of it is land and 5,880 square miles of it is water.
In 2003 the population was 10,230. (Population citations in the
table to the right are extracted from the 2000 census.) There is no
specific seat of government.
The major population centers are focused in the Glennallen, Copper
Center and Kenny Lake communities which are situated near the junctions of
major highways. Glennallen is the major commerce and administrative
center, while Kenny Lake is the agricultural center.
In the 1800s, the Ahtna Athabaskan Natives occupied most of this region, the
upper Copper Valley. Ahtna is the Athabaskan name for the Copper River.
The Ahtna People lived a semi nomadic life style - most of their settlements
were either fish camps or winter villages along the river, or hunting and
trapping camps in the uplands. The Native residents divided themselves
into autonomous clans, each group having their own hunting, fishing and
Though historical records show Russian contact in this area as early as the 18th
century, it was not until the late 1800's that the Ahtna People had their first
true involvement with outside explorers. About 1885, Lt. Henry Allen traveled the Copper River
as far north as the Tanana River. With his exploration came the word of the
large concentrations of copper found in this volcanic valley.
In 1898, the United States Geological Survey published reports on the geology of
the region. In 1900 the great copper deposit was staked on a ridge just
north of what is now McCarthy. The Kennecott Copper Company developed the
mine and built the railroad between Cordova and Kennecott/McCarthy, one
that was active from 1910 until it shut down in 1938.
Lt. Joseph Caster headed a scouting party
that would eventually blaze trail from the Cook Inlet to where Circle City is
now located. His charted course became the route for the Glenn Highway (#1),
which was completed in 1945. In 1899, surveying began for what is now known as
the Richardson Highway (#4).
The economy in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area is diverse and dominated by oil
and cargo shipping, and commercial fishing and seafood processing. This region
hosts the largest seaport in Alaska and has one of the busiest commercial
Perhaps the greatest social and economic impact to this region occurred with the
construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1971. Many small settlements were
built through the Copper Valley to accommodate the pipeline workers and their
families, many of whom remained after construction was completed.
Discovery of gold in in 1898 and 1899 the Klondike resulted in the creation of the Valdez-Eagle
trail as an alternate route for gold miners. It later became an important stage
coach and mail route for those people who, under the Homestead Act, had settled
through the Copper Valley region. Roadhouses sprang up along the trail offering rest and food to
travelers and gold seekers.
Once transportation routes were in place, communication came to this once
isolated land. Telegraph lines were constructed from Valdez to Copper Center,
Eagle, Fairbanks, and other interior posts. In 1941, the Alaska Road Commission
received appropriations for the Glenn Highway, which was completed four years
In March 1989, the Valdez-Cordova Census Area was the center
for the massive oil-spill cleanup after the Exxon Valdez disaster.