Wrangell -- the only Alaska town to fly the Russian, British and American flags -- sits at the northern tip of Wrangell Island. It's near the mouth of the Stikine River, a longtime trade route into the Canadian interior. The Wrangell area may have first been lived in by humans 8,000 years ago, according to scientists who have studied a collection of petroglyphs found in Wrangell and neighboring places. What is now Wrangell was settled in 1811 by Russians, who traded for furs with the Tlingit Indians and named the island after Ferdinand von Wrangel, the manager of the Russian-American Co. In 1834, the Russians built a fort, Redoubt Saint Dionysius, which 10 years later they leased to the British Hudson's Bay Co., whose officials named it Fort Stikine, according to the Alaska Department of Community Development. The Tlingits who lived south of the fort and the British competed for trade routes on the swift Stikine, but the Tlingits suffered two epidemics of smallpox and lost half their population by 1840. The fort was abandoned in 1849 when the furs were depleted, but it remained under the British flag until Alaska was bought by the United States in 1867. The United States established Fort Wrangell in 1868. The community grew as raucous gold prospectors came in 1861, 1874-77 and 1987. Thousands of miners traveled up the Stikine to the Cassiar District of British Columbia in the 1870s and to the Klondike in 1897. Between gold rushes, a cannery opened up in 1889, followed by a sawmill that provided packing boxes and construction lumber. By 1916, fishing and forest products from the Tongass National Forest had become the primary industries; four canneries and a cold storage plant were constructed by the late 1920s. The Alaska Pulp Corp. sawmill, Wrangell's largest employer, closed in late 1994. It reopened several years later as Silver Bay Logging. Wrangell, population 2,300, is also developing a dive fishery. Several dozen divers harvest sea urchins, sea cucmbers and geoducks, a large, burrowing clam. The town also supports the mining industry along the Stikine. Visitors -- whose transportation to Wrangell is by cruise line, state ferry and airplane -- should dress for cool summers. The winters are mild, and the annual preciptation averages 82 inches, including the meltwater from 64 inches of snow. The average summer temperatures range from 42 to 64, and the winter temperatures run from 21 to 44.