Cooper Landing

Posted: Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Never before have we received so many political phone calls from pollsters and those with recorded messages at our home and the same at my sister and brother-in-law's place in east Texas. Today we'll all go to the polls, if we haven't voted early and soon we'll know the outcome I hope.

Thursday night is a scheduled community club meeting at the hall at 7:30. Vice president Jack Britton is in charge.

Don't forget the library sweepstakes on Saturday night at the community hall. Your ticket gives you a chance to win big bucks and to eat well. The last I heard only six sweepstake's tickets remained unsold. Arlene Knock will know if any are left. The seniors will sell their quilt raffle tickets until virtually the last minute I suspect. That drawing will be held Saturday night also.

The big 100th birthday celebration for Caroline Kleineick is at 2 p.m. on Sunday and everyone is invited to join Caroline and all her friends for the party. Jan Mitchell, Theresa Norris and Carla Britton are coordinating the potluck.

Joyce Olsen from Oregon and Larry Olsen from Montana recently sent Cooper Landing and Sportsman's Lodge memorabilia for the Cooper Landing Museum and Kenai Lake Baptist Church from Larry's mother Mattie Olsen. Mattie and Ken Olsen bought Sportsman's Lodge in 1965 and ran it as a family business until selling in 1974. The lodge was in the area at Mile 55, where parking, boat launching and the entrance to the Russian River Ferry are located. After the Alaska Department of Fish and Game bought the lodge in 1992, the many buildings on the property were sold and moved or torn down due to their state of disrepair. In the photo albums received, Sportsmans Lodge in its heyday is shown. Mattie and Ken moved to Montana in 1990. Ken died a few years ago, and Mattie died Aug. 10. She was nearly 91 years old.

Robert V. Towle was 91 when he died Oct. 6 in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Robert was born in Alameda, Calif., on April 30, 1913, to Frank and Nellie Towle. Frank returned to Alaska when Robert was a youngster and remarried. The two didn't see each other until in the 1930s when Robert's Coast Guard ship docked in Seward.

They did exchange letters, and a few years ago Robert made a trip to Cooper Landing to walk in his father's footsteps. He was accompanied by his daughter, Susan Ghandehari, and two of his sons, Vernon Leo Towle and Dean Towle.

Pictures in the museum show Robert's mother and older brother, Donald. My favorite is the photograph taken around 1910 with Nellie and Donald on the old Cooper Creek Bridge with Frank's brother, Tom's wife and daughter. Robert served in the Bering Sea Patrol, in World War II and the Korean War and was buried with full military honors.

The positive feedback I've received regarding the continuing Lawing to Kenai road saga and other historical anecdotes is appreciated and so I will continue. Alaska Road Commission Inspector Ralph R. Guthrie wrote in his 1928 report about Duncan Little of Cooper's Landing who "has the reputation of being extremely conscientious and industrious, and has both experience and common sense. It is recommended that he be put in charge of the work and authorized to employ one man as an assistant and that the period of his employment not exceed two months." Guthrie had in mind for Dunc Little to "go over the entire trail in two months next summer and put it in excellent shape."

Dunc and his helper were to make those "common sense repairs to the winter trail and to shelter cabins, using material to be found in the forest with a moderate amount of equipment and material furnished and no further expense undertaken. Also that plans be formulated to construct a winter tail around upper Kenai lake from Lawing, for purpose of avoiding the obvious dangers to lives and mail, involved in crossing over treacherous stretches of thin ice abounding in air holes at different periods during the winter."

Skipping ahead to 1934, the Cooper Landing Truck Trail project was not going smoothly. This is a line from the Oct. 21 report to the Regional Forester in Juneau: "That's the awfullest piece of junk a man ever tried to put up with, there is hardly a day that something isn't haywire or going haywire."

We'll pick up here next week.

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

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