Cooper Landing

Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hi, neighbors.

A new map of the Sterling Highway project from Mile 45 to Mile 58 received from HDR Alaska Inc. will be on display during the Cooper Landing Community Club meeting at the community hall Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The map scale is one inch equals 500 feet so it is maybe 20 feet long. The alternatives under consideration for the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement are overlaid on aerial photography.

Property lines and buildings are visible. I found our house about one-fourth of an inch from the Cooper Creek Alternative.

Election of officers for the next two years is on the community club agenda, as well as reports from local groups, and the Cooper Landing Plan in its first draft put together by area residents and Casey Reynolds, the Community Development Coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District.

The next meeting to work out the kinks and finalize the community plan will be Monday at 7 p.m. at the community hall. Copies are available at Wildman.

The Cooper Landing Activity Divas are sponsoring a movie night at the community hall Saturday and a wine tasting night Feb. 5. Call Katie Thomas for details at 595-1643.

Gregory Weissenberg, his sister Natasha, his son Anton, with friend Don Merry came to Cooper Landing Jan. 15 and presented a program on Russian place names in Alaska and Russian words in the Alaskan vernacular at the Cooper Landing Museum.

The PowerPoint slide program, narrated by Weissenberg, was augmented by Russian music, potato filled pirog, sweet honey cakes, and a colorful samovar. Weissenberg's wife Olga baked the food which helped illustrate Russian words.

We learned that a person identified in historical photographs as Vitus Bering was actually a relative of the real Danish sea captain who had the same name. Thanks to the accuracy in the journals of German scientist Georg Steller who was with Bering on his last voyage, Bering's grave was located, his remains found, and his skull taken to Moscow for reconstruction. The reconstructed Bering looks how a tough sea wolf should look.

Cooper Landing Historical Society members asked Weissenberg to come back for another program. After Weissenberg reads Peter Doroshin's journals in the Russian text, he will be able to explain to us about the deaf grouse and the Chadaki pits.

Al Clayton, 65 year Alaska resident, was a power plant operator, a packer and guide, and a trucker. He worked for the Alaska Road Commission, the Civil Aeronatics Administration, and the Alaska Railroad. Clayton retired in 1979 from Copper Valley Electric and now lives in Homer. In the early 1950's in Seward, Clayton built what he called a snow plane. He brought it to his cabin on Kenai Lake when Roy and Elnor Bryson were building Bryson's Place, the nucleus for the present Sunrise Inn. I have several pictures of Al and Martine Clayton with Cecil Rhode, Roy Bryson and others in and around the snow plane at Bryson's Place and on Kenai Lake nearby. What looks to me like a small plane fusilage without the roof, an airplane propeller, two skis in front and one behind, with the engine mounted high in front is Clayton's snow plane. He used that machine in the Cooper Landing area and up north around Glennallen for many years, I believe. It is retired now behind his house in Homer. Clayton's daughter, Maraley McMichael, said the last trip for the snow plane was on the Chistochina River. Apparently there was a mishap and Al and Martine Clayton had frosted feet as a result.

In 1946, when Al Clayton was working at the Seward power plant, he was called to Dillon, Montana where his mother was dying. Al and his mother made their first trip to Alaska in 1935 via steam ship from Seattle. They spent time in Seward and as far as Mile 18 at the beginning of Kenai Lake. After his mother's death, Al bought a Diamond T flatbed chassis and had a flatbed with side panels built for it. Clayton and Frank Wine from Seward bought a ton of dry beans, 1400 pounds of ham, and 150 pounds of butter from a creamery in Butte. Al headed up the highway with a full load on his flatbed for Anchorage in December traveling through minus 45 degree weather. He arrived in Anchorage Jan. 10, 1947 where the temperature was minus 30 degrees. More on this next week.

Mona Painter can be reached by phone at 595-1248 or by email at

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