January 10, 2016

Cordova, Alaska: No Road is No Problem for Us

Cathy Pegau says  Cordova is a coastal town approximately 160 miles southeast-ish of Anchorage, on the east side of Prince William Sound. Though on the mainland, it’s only accessible by sea or air due to surrounding mountains and river valleys. You have to plan to come here. By the same token, leaving for whatever reason can sometimes require a bit of schedule shuffling and finger crossing. There’s no such thing as a last minute road trip to or from Cordova. Heck, there’s no paved road for that anyway!

Cordova was originally the home of the Eyak people. With the influx of whites, it eventually evolved into a town of fishing and clam canneries, as well as the terminus for the Copper River and North Western Railroad. From ~1911 until the 1930s, copper ore was carried down from Kennecott mines and loaded onto ships bound for the States.
The railroad tracks have long since been removed, and the current Copper River Highway follows only about 50 of the original 150 miles of the old rail bed. What used to be regular access to and from the Interior has been reclaimed by nature. There have been calls to extend the highway, once again reconnecting Cordova with the Interior, but you’ll see a number of “No Road” bumper stickers and shirts in town. Interpret that as you will.

Fish and copper made Cordova a boom town, but once the copper ceased being a feasible enterprise, the town turned to the sea for its economic stability. Commercial fishing is now the mainstay of Cordova’s livelihood, but it’s not all work work work. In the summer, kayaking, canoeing, glacier trekking, and general hiking (take your bear spray) can bring you into some amazing locations. Folks water ski and jet ski on Eyak Lake. Sports fishing is popular as well, and people come from all over to get their Copper River reds, silvers, or kings. In the winter, you can still hike some places, ski, snowshoe, and even ice skate on a glacier lake or Eyak Lake, if it’s been cold enough.

Personally, I don’t do a lot of outdoorsy things because I’m writing. And lazy. But that’s okay too. There are indoor clubs and groups that meet, and our local museum and library are fantastic facilities for expanding the mind and social connections.

It was at the museum and library that I spend much of my time, delving into Cordova’s past to research my historical mystery series that starts with Murder on the Last Frontier.

There’s many who feel the Alaska Territory is no place for a woman on her own. But Charlotte Brody, suffragette and journalist, has never let public opinion dictate her life choices. She’s come to the frontier town of Cordova, where her brother Michael practices medicine, for the same reason many come to Alaska—to start over.
Cordova is gradually getting civilized, but the town is still rougher than Charlotte imagined. And when a local prostitute—one of the working girls her brother has been treating—is found brutally murdered, Charlotte learns firsthand how rough the frontier can be. Although the town may not consider the murder of a prostitute worthy of investigation, Charlotte’s feminist beliefs motivate her to seek justice for the woman. And there’s something else—the woman was hiding a secret, one that reminds Charlotte of her own painful past.
As Charlotte searches for answers, she soon finds her own life in danger from a cold-blooded killer desperate to keep dark secrets from seeing the light of day…

A copy of Murder on the Last Frontier is up for grabs to a random commenter. Make sure you provide a viable email address so you can be contacted.

Murder on the Last Frontier is available on Amazon (UK, Canada, and Aus), B&N and Kobo, as well as other brick & mortar and online stores.

Cathy Pegau lives in Cordova, Alaska, with her husband, kids, critters, and the occasional black bear that wanders through the neighborhood. You can visit her website or pop over and say hello on Twitter or Facebook.

(All Info Author Provided)


  1. What a great post, Cathy. I've not been to Alaska, but you make it sound very appealing. anne stenhouse

  2. Alaska is beautiful! I've been there a couple of times, my brother lives in Wacilla. Haven't been to Cordova though, but hopefully one day.

    Good luck and God's blessings.


  3. I've been to Alaska many times; but Cordova I've never the opportunity to visit; Anchorage to Denali Park on Highway 3 all the way north to Fairbanks, then headed south on Highway 2 to North Pole and Delta Junction; from DJ continue south on Highway 4 all the way to Valdez, where I was near Cordova; but as you wrote no road to Cordova and I didn't have time to continue on, so back up Highway 4 to Glennallen where Highway 4 intersects with Highway 1 back to Anchorage. I only taken this circle trip once and it was lovely and love the numbering of the road system! 1,2,3,4 although I was unable to travel in numerical order. Also had side trips different times to Homer, Soldotna, Seward, Juneau, Ketchikan and all the little villages near by. The fishing really is as great as advertised. We've always caught our limits in Halibut & Salmon; but have to go to different areas for each fish. Alaska is truly, the last frontier and the vastness is indescribable. Alaska does make a person feel on 50 Authors from 50 States:posted for Rico Austin by AS

  4. Your post about Alaska and your hometown was captivating and fascinating. What a beautiful setting which looks ideal and idyllic. Escaping to this wonderful locale would be like a breath of fresh air. The fishing and outdoor activities are appealing. Your novel interests me greatly and would be greatly enjoyed. Wishing you happiness and more adventures in writing. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. What an interesting life you and your family live, Cathy. I've never been to Alaska but it sounds fascinating. And your book makes good use of your knowledge and love of the area, I'd guess. I would enjoy reading it.

  6. Never been that far north and west, but have had many friends and a couple of relatives who lived there. Some still do, and you can't get them away.
    I love how place can bring out the creative in storytellers. You have a great place, from your description. Best to you on this and future stories. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author.

  7. Your inspiring post about your life in Alaska interested me very much. Such an experience with the outdoors activities, and local interests are what makes life meaningful and special. Thanks for your depth and the introduction to your book which is so creative and unique. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  8. I had read a friend's 3 volumes of her dad's 20 years living on the tundra. Have always wanted to see Alaska. It would be an experience of a lifetime. They way Alaska is described here, difficult to get in or out makes this place, to me, safe, if law and order is rigid. Not to mention, the experiences utterly different from the rest of the states. It would be a trip of a lifetime for me.

  9. Thanks for all the great comments, folks! I'll be choosing a winner of a copy of MURDER ON THE LAST FRONTIER and contacting them soon!

    And if you're ever in Cordova, give me a shout ;)



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