June 2000


[Foreword: Many of our visitors have undoubtedly visited Russ Marvin's website "The Aleutian Traveler" on many occasions, either by having found his links from here as were available on many of our "Aleutian's Web Site" pages, or through any of the higher quality search engines by simply typing in the keyword "Attu." When I learned that Russ was going to discontinue his web site, I had to ask Russ if he would be kind enough to allow us to post those very same pictures and stories on this web site for your viewing pleasure. We thank Russ for his kind consideration, approval, and assistance with putting this page together!]

pic32.jpg (13225 bytes)During my trip to Attu in June, 2000, I hiked out to Chichagof Harbor, following the trail along the Fish Hook ridge. It was hard to believe that our troops were able to climb those huge snow-capped mountains in horrible weather conditions, and under fire. What an incredible feat of bravery and determination. (Photo left to right: Tim Reilly, Jack Nourse, and me, Russ Marvin.)

My interest in the Aleutians dates from 1966/67, when I served at the US Coast Guard Loran Station on Adak. I was captivated by the strange beauty of this volcanic island, and fascinated by the abundance of wildlife. I hoped that I would be able to return
someday, although that did not seem likely at the time. Adak was a Navy base, and access was restricted. Thirty years later, when I learned that the Navy was pulling out of Adak, my interest in the Aleutian Islands was revived. I began to look for ways to revisit the islands.

In 1999, I became aware that a specialty tour operator (Attour, Inc.) had been offering trips to Attu for many years, primarily for birding enthusiasts. For a variety of practical reasons, Attour was being forced to shut down after the 2000 season. This was it. I just
had to go.

My trip to Attu from June 11-17, 2000 was the adventure of a lifetime. We had the extraordinary good luck to have three clear, sunny days in a row. The Coast Guard said that there had been only one clear day in the previous five months. We biked and hiked all over the eastern part of the island, and saw Attu in its full glory. The scenery was magnificent. At the same time, the relics of WWII were everywhere, and one was always reminded of the bloody history of this place.

Today, the only way left for a tourist or birder to visit Attu is by taking one of the cruises that pass through the Aleutians on the way to or from Japan, and/or the Russian Far East. Companies that offer such cruises are Society Expeditions, Zegraham Expeditions, Clipper Cruise Line, and Cruise West. The cost is very high, in the range of 7 to 11 thousand dollars per person. Unfortunately, the visits to each island are fairly short, usually only a few hours in length, and the weather can force changes in the itinerary.

The US Coast Guard Loran Station on Attu has been hosting small groups of WWII vets each summer, and occasionally permits visits by journalists and film makers. These visitors are flown to Attu on USCG supply planes which are based at Kodiak.

Thank you for your interest in my Attu photos. I welcome your questions or comments.

(Some technical information: All photos were taken with a Samsung Zoom 145 35mm camera on Kodak Royal Gold 400 film, with the exception of pictures # 1, 2, 4, 16, and 26, which were captured from digital video, shot with a Canon Ultura Mini DV camcorder.)


e-Mail Russ Marvin at:


I put together a 4 minute video of my trip to Attu, which Michael Gordon has kindly put on his Adak website. He doesn't have a limitation on storage capacity. The file is not suitable for streaming video, so it has to be first downloaded, then viewed offline. It requires Windows Media Player 7.0 or higher. I used a high quality setting in making this video, so not everyone's computer may show it with good results.

Link to Local Copy of Russ's Attu Movie

Link to Remote Copy of Russ Marvin Attu Movie


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#1. The "Evohe" at Casco Cove. This sailing yacht was chartered by Natural History New Zealand for the filming of the documentary, "The Aleutians: Cradle of the Storms. Later in the summer of 2000, this ship made a successful transit of the Northwest Passage.
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#2.  Along the shores of Massacre Bay, looking toward Massacre Valley. Gilbert Ridge is in the background.
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#3. The Attour Base Camp (former USCG Loran A Station) at Casco Cove. This was used for 20 years by Attour for its annual birding trips to Attu.
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#4. The Attour Chow Hall. Attour's guests lived in very primitive conditions, but ate like kings.
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#5. Biking on the runway. This paved 5800' runway is is used by the USCG for resupply of the Loran Station. There is no civilian air service to Attu.
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#6. A relic of WWII, a lone machine gun stands watch behind the Loran Station. Will Col. Yamasaki return ?
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#7. The US Coast Guard Loran Station Attu. This stations provides electronic navigational service for ships and planes. Although Loran has been largely replaced by GPS, the system is maintained for backup purposes.
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#8. The Loran timer and control room.
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#9. The film crew from New Zealand in front of the Loran Station. On the right is writer/director Beth Harrington, representing Oregon Public TV.
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#10. Inside the old Marine Brig. This is the last remaining WWII Quonset Hut on Attu.
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#11. The Henderson River Bridge.
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#12. View from the Hogback.
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#13. View of Black Mountain, with Jarmin Pass on the right, and Zwinge Pass on the left. Scene of fierce fighting in the Battle of Attu, May 1943.
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#14. On the road up to Engineer Hill. Portions of the road were snow covered, and bikes had to be pushed.
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#15. The Japanese War Memorial on Engineer Hill. This titanium monument was erected in 1987 by the Japanese government to honor the 2000 Japanese soldiers who died on Attu.
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#16. View of Sarana Nose from Engineer Hill. Note the old bunker in the foreground.
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#17. Lake Corries near Chichagof Harbor.
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#18. Chichagof Harbor.
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#19. The notorious Fish Hook Ridge near Chichagof Harbor. This is where Pvt. Joe Martinez, Attu's only Medal of Honor winner, fell in battle.
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#20. On the trail to Alexai Point. Massacre Bay is in the background. Appearing in the photo is Jack and Rosalie Nourse of Spokane, WA.
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#21. View of Massacre Bay from beach near Alexai Point.
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#22. Marsden Matting at the site of the WWII airfield at Alexai Point.
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#23. Shipwreck # 1 near Alexai Point.
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#24. Shipwreck # 1 near Alexai Point.
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#25. Shipwreck # 2, near Alexai Point.
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#26. Attour staff member Jerry Rosenband observes some red-faced cormorants near Murder Point with his Questar scope.
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#27. US Coast Guard C-130 crash site near Krasni Point.
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#28. Attour participants loading baggage prior to departure
from Attu.
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#29. The Reeve Aleutian Airways Lockheed Electra N178RV on Attu. One was sold to Air Spray in Alberta, Canada, and the other two are still in Anchorage looking for a buyer. If no buyer is found by September 2002, they may be scrapped.
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#30. Group photo of the Attour trip participants, June 17, 2000.
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#31. Aerial view of Massacre Bay and Valley.

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Last Updated: 04 Jan 2013 12:02