Portluck is a ghost town located on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Established as a salmon cannery early in the 20th century. It sits on Port Chatham bay, and a once thriving community fled the area in the 1950s after reports of Bigfoot attacks and unexplained disappearances.
In 1786 British captain Nathaniel Portlock sailed into the bay on an Alaskan expedition and gave the bay and the community his name. The population consisted largely of Russian-Alutiiq.
In 1900, an American firm bought fishing boats and established a salmon cannery. The first signs of trouble in this pristine setting was documented in 1905. A cannery management records describe where the natives refused to return to work because of "something" sighted in the nearby woods.
Despite this strange occurrence the little village prospered and in 1921 a post office was established there.
In the 1920s, Albert Petka confronted a large hairy creature along with his dogs, however it struck him in the chest, and he died soon afterward due to the wounds, but survived long enough to describe what happened.
However it wasn't until 1931, that it developed its sinister reputation. Andrew Kamuck went out logging, and when he didn't returned, a search party was sent out. He was found dead due to a blow in the head. A piece of heavy equipment nearby was suspected to be the murder weapon.
Shortly afterwards, Simeon Kvasnikoff reported that a gold miner from the nearby Port Graham headed out for the day and never returned. No sign of him was ever found.
Around this time, the villagers described seeing a woman in a long, black dress appear in the cliffs above the town. They said she was a spirit with a white face, and she would scream and moan and then disappear into the cliff face.
Then Tom Larsen sighted what he described as a large, hairy creature at a beach near his home. He ran back to the house to retrieve his rifle. Once he returned the creature was still there, but he did not shoot it.
During the 1940s cannery workers went into the Kenai Mountains to hunt Dall sheep and bear. They did not return, and a search party was sent out. They could find not trace of the men, then rumors circulated describing where a man's mutilated body was found in one of the lagoons. His wounds did not appear to be caused by a bear attack.
During these same years mutilated bodies washed up on the shores of Port Chatham, with injuries that did not coincide with a bear attack or other known predators of the area.
Another group of hunters tracking a moose, came across 18 inch footprints. They soon realized this creature was hunting the same moose. Then they came across a disturbance in the landscape, and then the moose tracks stop, and instead the large man-like prints continued upwards into the mountains.
In an interview that ran in the October 2009 edition of the Homer Tribune, Nanwalek elder Malania Helen Kehl, who was born in Port Chatham in 1934, gave insight into the demise of her hometown. She explained that her parents, along with the rest of the village, grew weary of being terrorized by a creature the Alutiiq called a Nantiinaq, meaning half-man, half-beast. She said that many of the residents refused to venture into the surrounding forests, and over time, abandoned their homes and the village school, and moved up the coast to Port Graham. Only the postmaster remained in Port Chatham, but the post office closed in 1950.
Strange experiences were described by different persons after the village closed. In 1968, a goat hunter said he was chased by a creature in the woods. In 1973, three hunters who were caught by a three-day storm, claimed that a bipedal creature walked around their tent at night.
In 1990, an Anchorage paramedic was called out to aid a 70-year-old Native who had suffered a heart attack but was incarcerated in the Eagle River jail north of the city. While treating the man, the paramedic happened to mention he had hunted in the area of Port Chatham. The elderly man suddenly sat up, grabbed the medic by the shirt and asked “Did it bother you? Did you see it?”
Before Portluck was founded, natives claim that a village had been established there but a creature drove them away, and that stories of its existence go back for hundreds of years.
Throughout the years after the cannery was open, at least three dozen people went missing or were found murdered.
The town remains abandoned, a ghost of its former self, because even after so many years, the story of what walks in the surrounding forest has not died away.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer