City Profile

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Seward, pronounced "Soo-word," is situated at the head of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. It is surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains which are blanketed with lush green vegetation, trees and alpine wild flowers. Footrace famous Mt. Marathon is the western backdrop of Seward with Harding Ice field lined along the back extending to the coast. Chugach National Forest, Kenai Fjords National Park and Caines Head State Recreation area are nearby. Founded in 1903 as the ocean terminus of what is now the Alaska Railroad, Seward prides itself, not only on its natural beauty, but as Alaska's only deep-water, ice-free port with rail, highway and air transportation to Alaska's interior and major urban population centers. This strategically positions Seward for Pacific Rim maritime commerce. Seward is a progressive community that enjoys a beautiful and scenic natural Alaskan environment with numerous visitor attractions. The town offers day cruises, kayaking, fishing, abundant marine activities and wildlife, unparalleled recreation and is the terminus for the Alaska Railroad.

Seward is the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, was named All-American City in 1963, 1965, and 2005, and enjoys a low mill rate of 3.12. Within the city there is a 7% sales tax and a 4% bed tax.  Our population within city limits is about 2,600 people, with another 2,600 people living just beyond our city boundaries. Seward experiences a maritime climate with average winter temperatures ranging from 17 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit and average summer temperatures ranging 49 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit.  We can see 66 inches on average of rain a year, and 80 inches of snowfall.

We, the City of Seward, are proud to serve our constituents, and encourage you to visit, and welcome you to our picturesque coastal community.


Early History
In 1792, russian explorer Alexander Baranof arrived by boat in what is now known as Resurrection Bay. In 1992 Seward celebrated its 200th anniversary. Baranof remembered the sheltered waters of the bay when he chose a place to build the Phoenix, perhaps the first ship built on the west coast of North America from 1793-1794.

The earliest American history of Resurrection Bay began in the 1890's with the arrival of Captain Frank Lowell, his native wife Mary and their children. The founders and settlers of the town of Seward arrived in 1903 to build the railroad. Seward was named in honor of William H. Seward, President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State. William K. Seward was responsible for negotiating the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867.

Mile 0 of the Iditarod Trail
On Christmas Day, 1908, gold was discovered on Otter Creek, a tributary of the Iditarod River. To boost Seward as the winter port, the Seward Commercial Club hired the famous Japanese Alaska pioneer musher Jujiro Wada who led the team crew of local Seward men Alfred Lowell, Dick Butler and Frank Cotter, to blaze a trail to the newly discovered gold mine of Iditarod. The Iditarod Trail began as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome. Later in 1925, the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Diphtheria threatened and serum was sent via dogsled to the western community. The Iditarod now is a national historic trail, and is called the “Last Great Race on Earth.”  Each year, an extremely competitive dogsled race takes place of more than 1150 miles from Anchorage to Nome. Mile O in Seward, is marked by a historical monument and additional information can be found at

The Alaska Railroad
Seward was incorporated in 1912, and in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson chose Seward as the main railroad route into Alaska's interior. The fate of the railroad fluctuated for many years until the advent of World War II. During the war, Seward and its port prospered. Resurrection Bay became a strategic military port, and by 1944 the railroad was one of the most prosperous in the United States.

1964 "Good Friday" Earthquake."
In 1964, an earthquake that measured 9.2 on the richter scale was centered 95 air miles northeast of Seward. The quake, several tsunami waves, and resulting fires severely damaged the town and the rail yards. Eventually both the town and railroad were restored, but rail service took many years to recover. Remnants of that earthquake can still be seen along the waterfront today, with a movie being shown at the Seward Library during the summer months.