Once known as Hoonah Hot Springs, the name was changed to Tenakee Springs when a post office was established in 1902 and confusion arose between mail destined for this town and the neighboring village of Hoonah.
At one point Tenakee was known as “Robbers Roost” stemming from bank robbers and other outlaw types reportedly hiding out here. The most notorious of these were members of the Soapy Smith gang who were said to have settled here after Smith’s death in 1899.
Gambling and prostitution were part of the rowdy frontier town. There was no reliable law and order here in until 1917 when Deputy U.S. Marshall and a U.S. Commissioner began making regular visits.
Salmon and crab canneries operated in the inlet beginning in 1916 and ceased operations in 1974.
Commercial fishing remains an important part of Tenakee and the livelihood of some Tenakee residents