Cooper Landing

Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Marilyn Gravenhorst heads up the book club at 3 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month at the library. They choose books, fiction and non-fiction, from a variety of subjects to read and discuss. I think the most recent one is about the lives of pioneering women as told from letters written home. New non-fiction books available at the library include "To War in a Tin Can," "The Birder's Guide to Bed and Breakfasts," and " The Living Tradition of Yup'ik Masks."

Phillip Miller will be calling Bingo Saturday at 7 p.m. at the community hall. This is a benefit evening for the museum and sponsored by the Cooper Landing Historical Society. Bingo prizes are donated and hand crafted items. Game winners will draw numbers to receive the corresponding prize. The last game will be a blackout for a money prize depending on how many people are playing. Refreshments will be available.

Cooper Landing Senior Citizens Corp. Inc. members are busy as usual. During the general meeting Feb. 8 at the community hall, they signed an agreement with Tim and Mary Anderson of Anderson Enterprises to assist in bringing the initial six plex apartment facility for senior independent living in Cooper Landing into actuality. Andersons will help develop a strategy, go with them to land meetings with the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and locate and help them to secure necessary funding. They may even become project developers once CLSCCI has site control.

CLSCCI's fund-raising lasagna supper diners filled the community hall Feb. 12. I counted at least 70 while we were there. John and Carrie Williams prepared the dinner and many pies were donated for dessert. New CLSCCI treasurer, Tom Farrington also was the impromptu auctioneer of the pies not needed for dessert. Like seniors everywhere, Cooper Landing elders are willing to work hard for special benefits for their members, for their community and for their way of life. Maybe even a little harder when you think about the Sexy Senior Dumpster Cleaners hard at it every Monday regardless of sub-zero temperatures, snow or ice.

Eileen Pruitt celebrated her 80th birthday on Feb. 13, a day early, at the Cooper Landing Museum with family and friends. The party was held in the old post office where Eileen clerked for postmaster Betty Fuller in the 1960s and where husband Warren worked for postmaster Steve Skolnick. Eileen's sons, Mark and Jeff Johnson, were there with wives Carol and Vera and grandchildren Gunnar, Hannah and Eric. Hannah's embellished memory album made for her grandmother to hold pictures and memorabilia brought to the party was admired by all. Old friends from Anchorage included members of the Korpi family and Melissa Fouse. Steve Robinson brought his mother, Nina, from Sterling and Margaret Branson drove over from Seward with a tray of the biggest chocolate dipped strawberries infused with Grand Marnier. Betty Fuller and Helen Gwin remembered the old days with Eileen from 1949 on. A slide show of life in Cooper Landing from 50 years ago helped show some of the newer residents what it was like.

Big Jim O'Brien and Little Jim Dunmire were featured in the slide show of old friends. Jims' Landing on the Kenai River where many boats pull out during the summer is named for the Jims who had a cable crossing Kenai River in that area. Using the cable, they were able to get supplies to their mining claims on Surprise Creek. The Jims came to Cooper Landing from Idaho in 1935 and between 1939 and in 1953, they staked 17 claims and did yearly assessment work as prescribed. However in 1953, there was a little problem in regard to the Jims cable crossing.

It seems that in 1953, Big Jim filed two claims on land around what is now Jims' Landing perhaps to protect the cable crossing. Unfortunately, after the Kenai National Moose Range was designated, mining was restricted on the Moose Range. The road was pushed through in the late 1940s from the Forest Service boundary near Henton's Lodge toward Naptowne which was renamed Sterling in 1953. Land was opened to entry and people flocked in to file on land even before the gravel road was finished and a bridge built over Moose River. Next week I'll finish this story, as I know it, about Big Jim and the blocking of public access of the road to the cable crossing and river access.

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

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