I chose this picture because more than 50 years later we in Cooper Landing are still seeing bears! We had a big brown at our house two nights ago and last night (May 10) on the way home from Soldotna, near the Russian River confluence, a black bear crossed the highway in front of us.
Shown above is Jack Lean on the porch of his Cooper Landing Store probably in the 1940s.
Jack and his brother, Charlie, came to Cooper Landing in 1910 and eventually received the title to two pieces of land on the Kenai River.
Jack and Charlie hunted brown bear sand other animals in their early years here. When I asked Jack why they killed so many grizzlies, he said they were in demand in the eastern states for carriage robes. This picture was from a later time.
Jack carried mail by dog team from Seward to Kenai and on the Iditarod trail. He died in the Pioneer Home in Sitka in 1976.
Jack’s store became the Cooper Landing Post Office in 1963 when Betty J. Fuller became postmaster. In 2003 the building was donated by TelAlaska Inc. to the Cooper Landing Historical Society and moved by Keith Freeman and Nick Vanderhoff about 600 feet downriver to become one of the museum buildings.
Jack is dear to my heart. He is the first of the “old timers” I got to know and he was generous with his photos and other memorabilia. I saved all of his letters written from the Pioneer Home.
This column was written by Mona Painter with the Cooper Landing Historical Society.
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