The first Gustavus “dock” was built in 1929 by the Alaska Road Commission and was nothing more than a raised platform sitting out in the middle of Icy Passage surrounded on all 4 sides by water. The “platform” or “dock” as it was more commonly called had no connection to dry land.
The early homesteaders viewed the “dock” (equipped with a winch to lift loads and a small structure built on the platform for the safe keeping of goods) as a huge improvement in their lives. When the mail boat came on its scheduled once-a-month stop, it would leave the bags and boxes in the small building awaiting the arrival of Gustavus folk by skiff or boat to retrieve. This was especially handy when the mail would arrive in the middle of the night or when the tides weren’t right in Salmon River for the locals to launch.
Nonetheless, as each arrival represented a “Christmas” level of excitement to the early pioneers, each deposit of mail was retrieved and celebrated at the earliest possible moment—weather and conditions permitting. When the homesteaders had goods to be picked up and transported to Juneau they would package them and deposit them on the dock well before mail day. Or if they themselves were to be passengers to Juneau on the mail boat, they would be out on the dock platform waiting pickup—sometimes huddled for hours in the little, unheated storage building.
In this photo (looking north), the Federal Relief Project in 1933 was adding the final link to the Gustavus, Alaska dock called “the approach” seen under construction. The “approach” connected the “platform” or “dock” to land and provided a very convenient means of walking or driving to the original platform, which then became “the end of the dock”.
GHAA Note: The earliest mailboat drop off in the history of Strawberry Point (Gustavus), Alaska was a scow or small barge float anchored out between the mouths of the Good and Salmon Rivers where homesteaders would retrieve and send mail and goods.