Already seen by an early Russian expedition in the mid-17th century, Provideniya Bay’s strategic importance was not recognized until 1848-49, when Captain Moore overwintered there on HMS Plover during the search for Franklin’s lost expedition. He gave the bay its name which in turn was used in the 1930s when a port and city was built in Provideniya Bay as a coaling and supply station for the ships in the Chukotka Region and for the Northern Sea Lane.
Until recently huge piles of coal in the harbor were remains of that period. Provideniya is located at the northeastern end of the bay, at Emma Harbor. Originally built for military purposes, the town was meant to grow to have up to 12,000 inhabitants. Today there are some 2,200 residents –many of them Yupik- living along the shore of the northern side of Emma Harbor.
On the southern side are the buildings formerly used by the military. For decades the town was all grey, but today many houses are brightly colored. The “House of the Culture” serves to show cultural performances ranging from Russian to local folklore and the small “Museum of Beringian Heritage” has interesting exhibition pieces, including a walrus skull with four tusks. An old anchor in front of the weathered lighthouse commemorates Vitus Bering. The best view of Provideniya Bay to the south and town to the northeast can be had at the cemetery.