in the Kenai Peninsula Borough
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 Department of Labor Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (nuh nill' chick)
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Geography and Climate
- Ninilchik lies on the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula on the Sterling Highway, 38 miles southwest of the City of Kenai and 188 road miles from Anchorage. The community lies between mileposts 119 and 144 of the Sterling Highway; a business center has developed between Ninilchik River and Deep Creek.
- Winter temperatures range from 14 to 27 °F; summer temperatures vary from 45 to 65 °F. Average annual precipitation is 24 inches.
- Community Map Available
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- The Kenai peninsula was historically used by Dena'ina Indians for fur-farming and fishing. The Dena'ina word "Niqnilchint" means "lodge by the river." With the establishment of the colony of Russian America in the 1800s, Ninilchik became home to one of the first non-native communities in Alaska. In the 1820s, the Russian American Fur Company became burdened by a number of elderly, disabled, and sick employees who could not safely return to Russia. The company received permission to establish self-sustaining retirement settlements in Alaska. Russian colonists, and people of Alutiiq and Aleut descent they had already created Russian-speaking communities with, arrived to create a settlement with the main purposes of beginning agricultural activities and housing retiring age colonists and their families. Along with members of the indigenous Dena?ina population, they created an agricultural village located in what is now the historic Ninilchik Village at the mouth of the Ninilchik River. During the period after Alaska?s purchase by the United States, Ninilchik changed from a primarily agricultural village to a fishing village, and was a hub for fishermen supplying Alaska?s early 20th century canneries. In 1847, Grigorii and Mavra Kvasnikoff moved their large family from Kodiak to Ninilchik. Grigorii was a Russian Orthodox missionary from Moscow, and Mavra was a Russian-Sugpiaq from Kodiak -- the daughter of Efim Rastorguev, a Russian shipbuilder, and Agrafena Petrovna, a Sugpiaq from Kodiak. The Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church was constructed in 1846. Iakov and Anna Oskolkoff and other Russian settlers subsisted on fishing, hunting, trapping, and gardening. By 1880, the U.S. Census found 53 "Creoles" living in Ninilchik. All nine original Native founding families of Ninilchik are descendants of the Kvasnikoffs. In 1896, a Russian village school was built, and in 1901 the Russian Orthodox church was constructed and dedicated at its current site. A post office was established in 1925. The 1940s brought homesteaders to the area. In 1949, the Berman Packing Company began fish-canning operations. In 1950, the Sterling Highway had been completed through Ninilchik. The current Ninilchik school was built in 1951. Alaska?s statehood in 1959 bolstered American population growth in the area and residents today have a vast range of different cultural backgrounds and roots. The expansions and pavement of the highway system in the 1960s and 1970s shortened travel time between the community and other parts of the peninsula, and both the population and economy rapidly grew as a result.
- Ninilchik is a traditional Athabascan village, although the majority of the population is non-Native. Ninilchik proper and its adjacent small neighborhoods form a community of 900+ residents located on the Southern Sterling Highway corridor in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, roughly halfway between the Homer and Kenai/Soldotna areas. The community is unincorporated and has low population density due to the area?s geographic size. People living several miles north and south of Ninilchik proper on the Sterling Highway identify themselves as Ninilchik residents. Tourism and fishing are the main industries in Ninilchik. There are dozens of active fishing guides, bed and breakfasts, and other tourism businesses in the area, making it a popular travel destination in the summer. Due to the seasonality of the local economy, a significant number of working residents are employed outside of the area. Because of Ninilchik?s status as an unincorporated community, its services, civic projects, and public events are managed by local non-profit groups, private businesses, and through direct management by the Kenai Peninsula Borough, State of Alaska, and the Ninilchik Traditional Council. Ninilchik is a hub of year-round recreation and has several festivals and events, the most notable of which is the Kenai Peninsula Fair. Ninilchik?s Caribou Hills is also home to the ? and ? route checkpoint for the peninsula?s south-and-back Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race in late January or early February. The Caribou Hills neighborhood is also a popular destination for snowmachining, cross-country skiing, and free-terrain skiing and snowboarding.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Ninilchik Village
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- The community lies on the Sterling Highway. A state-owned dirt/gravel airstrip is located on Oilwell Road. Homer or Kenai have airports, and harbor/docking facilities are in Homer, which has state ferry access. Ninilchik harbor was constructed in the early 1970s. Mainly charter and recreational boats are launched from Ninilchik or Deep Creek beach; a tractor launch is also available.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District