Just east of Sitka’s John O’Connell Bridge is Castle Hill, also known as the Baranof Castle State Historic Site. Today it has a low rock wall and a handful of cannons pointed at the sea, but the hilltop once hosted forts: first of the Tlingit people, then of the Russians when they established the town as the capital of Russian Alaska. And it was here that Russia officially handed over control of Alaska to the U.S. in 1867.

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