St. Mary’s is located on the north bank of the Andreafsky River, 5 miles from its confluence with the Yukon River. It lies 450 air miles west-northwest of Anchorage. The City of St. Mary’s encompasses the Yup’ik villages of St. Mary’s and Andreafsky. In 1899, Andreafsky was established as a supply depot and winter headquarters for the Northern Commercial Company’s riverboat fleet. The village took its name from the Andrea family which settled on the River and built a Russian Orthodox Church. In 1903, Jesuit missionaries set up a mission 90 miles downriver at “Akulurak” to educate and care for the children orphaned by a flu epidemic in 1900-01.
Akulurak means “in between place,” aptly describing the village, which was on an island in a slough connecting two arms of the Yukon River. The mission school flourished, and by 1915, there were 70 full-time students. Over the years, the slough surrounding Akulurak silted in severely. In 1948, the villagers decided to move to higher ground. Materials from an abandoned hotel built during the gold rush were used to construct the new mission and several village homes at the present site. In 1949, an unused 15′ by 30′ building and other building materials from Galena Air Force Station were barged to Saint Mary’s by Father Spills, a Jesuit priest. These materials, along with a tractor borrowed from Holy Cross, were used to construct a school. During the 1950s, a number of Yup’ik families moved into the Andreafsky area, only a short distance from the mission. Dormitories and a large house for the Jesuits were built during the 1960s. In 1967, the area adjacent to the mission incorporated as the City of St. Mary’s, although Andreafsky chose to remain independent. In 1980, the residents of Andreafsky voted for annexation into the City. In 1987, the Catholic Church closed the mission school. Meteorological (MET) towers were installed in various places to collect wind data to determine the feasibility of generating power from wind.
Installing new automated switchgear – inside plant