Cooper Landing

Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Cooper Landing stamping weekend is coming up Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the community hall beginning about 10 a.m. Deb Carlson is heading it all up and she's also in charge of the meal plans if you're interested, or you can bring your own food.

Hardly anyone goes home to eat, since they might miss something. Everyone furnishes their own snacks and drinks.

This year's special will be make-it and take-it stations for the first 10 people who join in and five have signed up thus far. Each of those 10 will bring a project that can be duplicated by looking at a sample.

Bring supplies for 10 of these items to be made such as cut paper, stamps, ink and embellishments.

At your leisure you can sit down at each station and make the card or project. Ten people can rotate through the stations and leave with 10 new items. There's always lots of sharing of techniques, stamps, ink pads and food during theses stamping weekends, and everyone is welcome even if you just want to watch.

Last week I told you about reports written in 1923 and 1928 about the Kenai River Trail Route 55 in regard to the condition of the trail and the proposed new trail or road from Moose Pass to Kenai.

Walter Lukens wrote the earlier report. According to the stationery he used, he was acting superintendent of the Board of Road Commissioners for Alaska under the War Department.

He described the March trip by dog team and noted wherever trail work was needed and what accommodations were available for travelers. Several cabins were available in this area, where "the winter trail crosses Kenai Lake and continues down the south bank a distance of about three miles to the lower landing station, where Louis Bell and a Mr. Fuller each have a large comfortable well constructed cabin, also some outhouses for dog shelter; and who are always willing to accommodate travelers." Most of the cabins were not being lived in at the time. More shelter cabins or tents were needed, Lukens wrote.

If a wagon road was to be considered, Lukens said the road "should be constructed along the north side of the upper Kenai River down to Skilak Lake then along the north side of Skilak Lake to the Lower Kenai River to the mouth of Moose River, and a one hundred fifty foot suspension type bridge should be used. Then the road should leave the Lower Kenai River and take a direct course for Kenai Station."

He said the country was ideal for wagon road construction with dry gravel benches. Lukens estimated the cost of punching the wagon road through this section was $7,000 to $10,000 per mile.

The present dog sled trail had "crooks and turns" which were created by driving through the timber, dodging trees to eliminate cutting. Lukens said if a good trail was cut, two round trips per month could be made for the cost and time that the one trip was taking the mail contractor. Until recently the mail never exceeded 400 pounds and sometimes weighed only 150 pounds. But the mail contractor received 780 pounds of mail in March. "The trail being so crooked and narrow, the longest he can use is a ten foot sled and is very difficult to handle, also 400 pounds is about the limit for the sled in weight. Therefore the mail carrier was compelled to relay his mail and it will take him about twenty days to make the round trip and will also be about ten days late with the mail arriving at Kenai."

The increase in mail followed the growth of Kenai. "The school at Kenai has 87 pupils enrolled. Three teachers employed. One church and two stores, also a U.S. Commissioner's precinct. Two fish canneries. One owned by the Northwest Fisheries and the other by the Libby-McNeil Company. ...

"Much fur is produced from trapping wild fur bearing animals also from fur farms which are becoming very numerous. Reported six new fox farms to start this season. The winter population of Kenai is estimated at 500 most of whom are Russians and Native Indians."

Lukens wrote that since Kenai did not have a doctor, people had to be hauled out on dog sleds for medical treatment, "or take chances and wait over until navigation opens so they can be removed by boat to Anchorage or elsewhere."

The story continues next week.

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

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