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The tiny, nondescript town of Hyder sits at the head of narrow Portland Canal, a 70-mile-long fjord northeast of Ketchikan. The fjord marks the border between Canada and the United States, and Hyder sits just 2 miles from the larger town of Stewart, British Columbia. It's also one of the few Southeast settlements accessible by paved road.The 1898 discovery of gold and silver
in the surrounding mountains brought a flood of miners to the Hyder area, and the town eventually became a major shipping port. Mining remained important for decades, but a devastating 1948 fire destroyed much of the town, which had been built on pilings over the water. A small amount of mining still takes place here, but the beauty of the area, while not any more interesting than Ketchikan, attracts a respectable number of tourists. Today Hyder calls itself "the friendliest ghost town in Alaska," a claim that may be based more on marketing than reality.
The village of Metlakatla—the name translates roughly as "saltwater passage"—is on Annette Island, just a dozen miles by sea from busy Ketchikan...