Seward Resort – and the entire Seward area – is steeped in military history, evidence of which is still visible today.
Seward Resort rests on the original site of Fort Raymond, established in 1940. After the US entered World War II, over 3,200 soldiers from various units of infantry, quartermaster, military police, medical, and engineer units called Fort Raymond home. After the war, Fort Raymond was deactivated, and the Women's Society of Christian Service took it over, operating the facility as a tuberculosis sanitarium. As tuberculosis cases receded, the need for the sanitarium diminished, and it closed in 1957.
Fort Raymond reverted to military control and serves the military community today as Seward Resort. Fort Raymond is far from the only site in the Seward area with military significance. The US Army built three forts and several other sites here as part of its WWII-era Coastal Defense System, over a decade before Alaska became a state in 1959. More freight was passed through Seward than any other civilian port in the world during the war – and the US wanted to keep it safe and functional. To that end, they built not only Fort Raymond, but also Fort McGilvray and Fort Bulkley.
First named the South Beach Cantonment, Fort McGilvray is often called the Caines Head Battery. It is located eight miles south of Seward, on a rocky cliff 550 feet above Resurrection Bay, and included a large concrete underground fire control center, five concrete ammunition magazines, and other buildings. Although outfitted for guns designed to fire a projectile up to sixteen miles, it received orders to dismantle two days before its first scheduled test-fire. The battery was dismantled in 1947. Caines Head Park still contains the ruins of several buildings and the underground fire control center.
Fort Bulkley at Rugged Island contained searchlights and fire control stations, twelve Pacific huts, an 88-person mess hall, two Quonset huts, two warehouses, a dispensary, and a laundry. Its most interesting feature was the concrete two-story fort, which included offices, a vault, latrines, a heating and power room, and a Chemical Warfare Service equipment room to decontaminate persons and equipment.
You’ll want to pack well for the weather. It can get really cold in the winter (it IS Alaska!), so bring plenty of winter clothing. Although it’s warmer in the summer, check the forecast before you come to pack appropriately.