In 1791, Alexander Baranov, on a return voyage to Kodiak from around his Alaskan domain, waited out a storm in this bay on the Sunday of Resurrection, a Russian holiday. The sheltered waters of Resurrection Bay prompted Baranov to install a small shipyard. In 1903 surveyors for the Alaska Central Railroad laid out the town site for their port.
This private enterprise, financed by Seattle businessmen, established Seward , laid 50 miles of track, and went broke. In 1911, Alaska Northern Railroad extended the track almost to present-day Girdwood . In 1912 the U.S. government began financing the completion of this line, which reached Fairbanks , 470 miles north, in 1923.
From then, Seward’s history parallels Valdez ’s as one of the two year-round ice-free ports with shipping access to Interior Alaska —Seward’s is by rail, Valdez’s by road. And like Valdez, Seward was almost completely destroyed by 1964’s Good Friday earthquake.
Today, Seward has a diverse economy supported by tourism, commercial fishing and sportfishing, fish processing, and other activities. The Alaska SeaLife Center  is the main focal point for travelers and has excellent exhibits. The Alaska Vocational Technical Center trains 1,600 students each year, and a maximum security prison on the east side of Resurrection Bay houses another 450 folks in less academic conditions.
A towering coal-shipping facility dominates the harbor; the Alaska Railroad hauls coal here from the Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy for shipment to South Korea. Some cruise ships also dock in Seward , but most companies have shifted their ships to Whittier . It’s too bad for them, since they miss one of the most enjoyable towns in Southcentral Alaska.