Cooper Landing

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Marine Lance Corp. Dustin Dreifuerst attached to HQ Platoon, A Company, is stationed in Fallujah, Iraq. Camp Lejeune is Dustin's permanent duty station but his outfit is now attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. In his first Iraq deployment, Dustin's job is driving a light armored reconnaissance vehicle, or LAR.

Dustin's company arrived in Fallujah in September and may be there until April. Dustin's mother, Mary Dreifuerst, told me about the Web site, which is frequently updated with photos and letters from Apache Company Commanding Officer Capt. John Griffin.

The Dreifuerst's twice spotted pictures of Dustin on the site. A CBS news crew is embedded with the unit and Capt. Griffin described them as "righteous, committed professionals." When you go to the Web site click on HQ Platoon to check on Dustin's unit.

Griffin described Halloween with Apache Company in Fallujah when he toured the tents and saw Halloween masks in use. "They are warriors at heart, strong in their resolve to accomplish the mission, but remain America's jovial, spirited youth."

In writing to the families and friends of the Marines, Griffin said: "We chose this profession and accepted the consequences. All of our loved ones have to deal with a greater hardship and sacrifice than we do. We chose to do this and we are surrounded by people who made the same decision, and there is a great deal of comfort in those circles. Whatever connection you have to your Marine, you have to get through this because of decisions we made. You are my heroes and you are extremely appreciated."

Having watched Dustin grow up in Cooper Landing and seeing his mother, father and sister since he's been in the USMC, I echo the captain's sentiments. Dustin and his family are my heroes and greatly appreciated.

The Department of Defense is urging the public not to send unsolicited mail to service members, and service members should only receive mail from family and friends they have given their address to.

Many suggestions for ways to show support to our troops can be found at the Web site

Last week, writing from Texas, I said we'd move on to the "Missing Link", Riddiford, Lou Bishop and the cry for a road to Homer. That is a lot of moving.

Progress toward eliminating the "Missing Link" in the road from Seward was followed by the Seward Gateway newspaper in the 1930s. A front page article on July 21, 1936, begins: "The clearing and grubbing of the section of the Missing Link from Mile 18 to Lawing, under contract to Wright & Stock Inc., was completed on July 20 and accepted on behalf of the Bureau of Public Roads."

Another front page article on Sept. 9, 1938, was headlined "Dedication of New Highway October Second." The finished road connecting Seward to Moose Pass, Hope and Cooper Landing was finally completed. Ribbon cutting on Snow River Bridge, speeches, a parade and stops for "picnic parties" were scheduled.

Riddiford is still a mystery to me. Various undocumented reports have Mr. Riddiford being a post office official.

In one book, it is written that the Cooper Landing post office was called Riddiford for the man who donated the land for the post office. I haven't found evidence in land records of a Riddiford owning property in the Cooper Landing area.

The first school here was called the Riddiford School when it opened in 1929. Sometimes articles in the Seward paper would mention the Riddiford School or Riddiford Post Office at Cooper's Landing.

I found a map from the 1920s with Riddiford located where the Kenai River empties into Skilak Lake. In "Alaska Mining History," by Virginia Doyle Heiner, Riddiford is identified as a mining village on Kenai Peninsula northeast of Skilak Lake and named for a prospector.

Lou Bishop is easier to talk about. Nick Lean and others have shared pictures and stories about Bishop and the fox farm and lodge. His first name is written Luther, Lu, Lou or Lew.

In the Oct. 17, 1930, Seward Gateway is "Bishop's Russian River Lodge is Destroyed, Fire." The article calls Bishop "Prince of Hosts" and says his lodge "is internationally known and now there will be an international lodge of sorrow." Bishop's place was above Rendezvous Creek near Russian River falls. After Bishop, the lodge became Russian River Rendezvous. More about Bishop and his place next week.

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

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