false pass

A false pass is a hoped-for passage that, once found, leads nowhere. A dead end. At sea, it’s a natural passage incompletely transecting a barrier reef or perimeter reef, usually less than thirty feet deep and blocked by reef growth or sediment deposition. One place in the United States named for the feature is False Pass, Alaska, a tiny village located on a strait on the eastern shore of Unimak Island, the first of the two hundred islands of the Aleutian chain that stretches toward the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. This “false pass” did indeed represent a hoped-for passage between the Pacific Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, but proved too shallow for large vessels. The area was originally settled by a homesteader in the early 1900s, and grew with the establishment of a salmon cannery in 1917.

Gretchen Legler