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Alaska Cruises Homer, Alaska (HOME-er)
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Current Population: 5,003 (2010)
Borough Located In: Kenai Peninsula Borough
Taxes: 4.5% Slaes, 3% Borough

Location and Climate
Homer is located on the north shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwestern edge of the Kenai Peninsula. The Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile long bar of gravel, extends from the Homer shoreline. It is 227 road miles south of Anchorage, at the southern-most point of the Sterling Highway. The community lies at approximately 59.642500° North Latitude and -151.548330° West Longitude. (Sec. 19, T006S, R013W, Seward Meridian.) Homer is located in the Homer Recording District. The area encompasses 10.6 sq. miles of land and 14.9 sq. miles of water.

Homer lies in the maritime climate zone. During the winter, temperatures range from 14 to 27; summer temperatures vary from 45 to 65. Average annual precipitation is 24 inches, including 55 inches of snow.

History, Culture and Demographics
The Homer area has been home to Kenaitze Indians for thousands of years. In 1895 the U.S. Geological Survey arrived to study coal and gold resources. Prospectors bound for Hope and Sunrise disembarked at the Homer Spit. The community was named for Homer Pennock, a gold mining company promoter, who arrived in 1896 and built living quarters for his crew of 50 on the Spit. Their plans were to mine the beach sands along Cook Inlet, from Homer to Ninilchik. The Homer post office opened shortly thereafter. In 1899, Cook Inlet Coal Fields Company built a town and dock on the Spit, a coal mine at Homer's Bluff Point, and a 7-mile-long railroad which carried the coal to the end of Homer Spit. Various coal mining operations continued until World War I, and settlers continued to trickle into the area, some to homestead in the 1930s and 40s, others to work in the canneries built to process Cook Inlet fish. Coal provided fuel for homes, and there is still an estimated 400 million tons of coal deposits in the vicinity of Homer. The City government was incorporated in March 1964. After the Good Friday earthquake in 1964, the Homer Spit sunk approximately 4 to 6 feet, and several buildings had to be relocated.

While commercial fishing has long been the mainstay of the Homer economy, tourism has become increasingly important. Homer is known as an arts community and is also a gateway community in relation to more remote destinations, such as Kachemak Bay State Park and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Activities and events, such as the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby and Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, draw many participants.

According to Census 2010, there were 2,692 housing units in the community and 2,235 were occupied. Its population was 4.1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 89.4 percent white; 0.4 percent black; 1 percent Asian; 0.1 percent Pacific Islander; 4.5 percent of the local residents had multi-racial backgrounds. Additionally, 2.1 percent of the population was of Hispanic decent.

Economy and Transportation
Homer is primarily a fishing, fish processing, trade and service center, and enjoys a considerable seasonal visitor industry. It has also become a popular retirement community. Approximately 10 cruise ships dock each summer. During summer months, the population swells with students and others seeking cannery or fishery employment. Sport fishing for halibut and salmon contribute significantly to the economy. 541 area residents hold commercial fishing permits. The fish dock is equipped with cold storage facilities, ice manufacturing and a vacuum fish-loading system. Gates Construction processes wood chips from spruce bark beetle-killed timber at its Homer Spit facility and exports the chips to Pacific Rim pulp and paper companies. The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center is popular for tourism and also serves as the headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The National Park Service maintains a regional office. Government and health care are major employers.

Homer is accessible by the Sterling Highway to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Canada and the lower 48 states. It is often referred to as "The End of the Road," because it lies at the terminus of the Sterling Highway. The State owns and operates the Homer Airport, with a 6,700' long by 150' wide asphalt runway and float plane basin, and a seaplane base at Beluga Lake. The City is served by several scheduled and chartered aircraft services. There are four additional private landing strips in the vicinity. The Alaska Marine Highway and local ferry services provide water transportation. The deep-water dock can accommodate 30-foot drafts and 340-foot vessels. There is a cruise ship dock, a boat harbor with moorage for 920 vessels, and a 4-lane boat launch ramp.

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Did You Know?
City Of Anchorage. In 1915 President Woodrow Wilson authorized funds for the construction of the Alaska Railroad. Ship Creek Landing was selected as the headquarters of this effort. A Tent City sprang up in the wilderness at the mouth of Ship Creek, and soon swelled to a population of over 2,000. On July 9, 1915, the Anchorage townsite auction was held, and over 600 lots were sold. Although the area had been known by various names, in this same year the U.S. Post Office Department formalized the use of the name Anchorage, and despite some protests the name stuck.
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