Russian explorers discovered Kodiak Island in 1763, and the city of Kodiak served as the original headquarters of the Russian-America Company, which was managed by Alexander Baranov with the intent of colonization for exploitation of resources. Because it was the original headquarters of the company, Kodiak is often referred to as the "first capital of Russian America." Situated as it is in the northwestern Gulf of Alaska,
Kodiak has been subjected to several natural disasters. In 1912 a volcanic eruption on the nearby Alaska Peninsula covered the town site in knee-deep drifts of ash and pumice. The 1964 earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed the island's large fishing fleet and smashed Kodiak's low-lying downtown area.