Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Name Origins on the Kenai"


Will Troyer, seen here cross-country skiing, initiated the naming of dozens of lakes on the central Kenai Peninsula.
NAME ORIGINS ON THE KENAI

AUGUST 2009

Part One

Because Will Troyer needed a frame of reference, previously anonymous geographical features of the central Kenai Peninsula received name recognition.

In the early 1960s, when Troyer was manager of the Kenai National Moose Range, he frequently performed aerial surveys of moose, often focused on those animals living in the vast expanse of the 1947 Kenai Burn, which had charred more than 300,000 acres of the western Kenai. Moose were plentiful in the ’60s, but Troyer struggled to nail down the locations of the big animals because most of the hundreds of lakes and ponds on his U.S. Geological Survey maps were unnamed.

“Even when I’d radio in and give my location, it was tough to explain where I was sometimes,” he said. “We needed I.D.’s for the lakes. So we got a list of names together, including names for the lakes in the canoe system we were building. We turned in maybe a couple hundred of them, and USGS accepted them all.”

The moose range biologists attempted to maintain common-use names whenever possible, and they attempted to select names pertaining to local plants, animals and landmarks. Today, those names have been on maps for so long that, for most people, they seem to have always been there.

This familiarity is true for names connected to more than just topography; it’s true for the names of public buildings, cities, memorials and common landmarks. Although some of those names are comparatively recent, many have been around for decades—a few for more than a century—and their origins have grown cloudy with time.

In fact, many peninsula residents have grown so accustomed to the names of things they rarely stop to think about the origins. Here—in three parts, starting on the southern peninsula and working generally north—are the histories behind some common peninsula sites:

The small boat harbor in Homer.
HOMER—Some may find it odd that the first mail drop in this area was called the Seward Post Office, in 1895. When that facility, located near McNeil Canyon, closed the following year, a new one opened on the spit with its current moniker, named for Homer Pennock, who according to Janet Klein in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula: The Road We’ve Traveled, was “a talented New York con man who established his field camp (called the Alaska Gold Mining Company) on the spit during the summers of 1896 and 1897 while he and his crew sought gold throughout Cook Inlet.” Even after the town moved inland a few years later, and Pennock and his operations moved away, the name remained.

NINILCHIK—The name comes from the Dena’ina word niqnilchint, which Dena’ina elder Peter Kalifornsky believed probably meant “lodge is built place,” indicative of the area’s rich Native history. In 1994’s Agrafena’s Children: The Old Families of Ninilchik, editor Wayne Leman said that the village once had a Russian name, Munina, named for a Mr. Munin, who apparently had been sent to explore Ninilchik as a settlement site.

STARISKI CREEK—According to several sources, this creek’s name seems steeped in Russian origins, and apparently the name was first published in the mid-1800s. In K’tl’egh’i Sukdu: The Collected Writings of Peter Kalifornsky, the author himself connects the name to a Russian beginning—to the word sdariski, meaning “little old man.” However, Russian teacher Gregory Weissenberg says that Stariski must be a corrupted adjective form of the noun starets, meaning “venerable old man.” Starets itself is a derivative of the noun starik, translated as “old man.”

The Russian Orthodox Church of Ninilchik.
KASILOF—The meaning of this name is unknown. Kasilof (first spelled Kussiloff) sprang up on the site of the fort and settlement called St. George Redoubt, established by the Russian Lebedev Company in 1787. About a century later, Kasilof became the site of the peninsula’s first salmon cannery.

SOLDOTNA—The origin of this name continues to be debated, although most residents now believe it originated from the Dena’ina word, ts’eldat’nu, meaning “trickling down creek,” not, as once strongly believed, from the Russian word for “soldier.”

KENAI—Originally the village at the river mouth was known to the Dena’ina as Shk’ituk’t, and the river itself was known as Kahtnu. The inhabitants of the village were Athabaskan Indians who called themselves Kahtnuht’ana, which translates as “people of the Kahtnu.” The Alutiiq people of the peninsula called the Kahtnuht’ana Kenaiyut, which translates as “people of the Kenai River.” It is this Alutiiq term that the Russians adopted to refer to the Dena’ina, calling them “Kenaitze.” The Russianized term became the source of the city’s name.

SLIKOK CREEK—It is the mouth of the creek that most directly accounts for its present name. The mouth was known by the Dena’ina word shlakaq’, which means “little mouth.” The creek itself was known as Shlatnu, meaning “little river.”

EAGLE ROCK—Interestingly, like the English name, the Dena’ina name for this well-used fishing landmark on the Kenai River refers to a bird—but not to an eagle. The name, Yeq Qalnik’at, means “cormorant’s rock.” The renaming of it as “Eagle Rock” has an origin that has faded with time.

Hooligan fishing is a favorite springtime activity at Cunningham Park in Kenai.
CUNNINGHAM PARK—Kenai homesteader Martha Cunningham donated this lower-river park land to the city, and it was named for her. Cunningham was a widow whose husband, Ethan, had been shot to death by Bill Frank in January 1948 to permanently end a dispute between the two men. Frank shot Cunningham three times for reasons that some long-time residents continue to debate: perhaps because of an affair between Mr. Cunningham and Mrs. Frank, or perhaps because of something as innocuous as noisy dogs. Martha Cunningham later remarried, but soon divorced her second husband and returned to her first married name.

WARREN AMES BRIDGE—A son of longtime Kenai residents, Phil and Betty Ames, 22-year-old Warren and a friend were canoeing through Naptowne Rapids on the Kenai River near Sterling in 1973 when their craft overturned. The friend was able to swim safely to shore, but Ames was not.  Sometime later, another of Ames’s friends, Frank Mullen, Jr., while working as legislative aide in Juneau, asked that a bill be drafted to name the new bridge on Bridge Access Road for Ames. In March 1974, the Alaska Legislature passed a resolution naming the bridge in his honor.

CENTENNIAL PARK—This favorite fishing and boat-launching site in Soldotna was created in 1967, during the centennial celebration of Alaska’s purchase from the Russians by the United States.

DAVID DOUTHIT VETERANS MEMORIAL BRIDGE—This Soldotna crossing point was given its current name officially on Sept. 11, 2002, in honor of all those who have put themselves in harm's way to protect America's freedoms, and in particular Staff Sergeant David Quentin Douthit, of Soldotna. Douthit, the only Alaskan to lose his life in the Persian Gulf War, died while serving as tank commander during the initial breach of front-line Iraqi defenses. He was killed in action on Feb. 27, 1991, while covering the evacuation of wounded soldiers. Sergeant Douthit was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for gallantry and heroism.

VERN GEHRKE FIELD—This baseball field located next to the Soldotna Rodeo Grounds was named for the former Soldotna City Council member and charitable public servant who was an avid Little League booster and frequently played Santa Claus in the local mall when the holidays drew near. Gehrke died in 1995 at the age of 83.

JUSTIN MAILE FIELD—In 1987, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly named Soldotna High School’s football field for Soldotna’s headstrong mayor of the early 1980s. Maile spearheaded numerous public works projects during his tenure with the city, and at various times he was also a member of the hospital board, the borough assembly, and the first SoHi booster club. Maile died in 1985 at the age of 68.

LEIF HANSEN MEMORIAL PARK—The younger son of Dr. Peter and Karolee Hansen of Kenai, Leif Owen Hansen was an Eagle Scout and only three years past his 1983 graduation from Kenai Central High School when he drowned in Seward. The city-center park was named in his memory, and it has become a memorial for dozens of other peninsula residents as well.

ERIK HANSEN SCOUT PARK—The elder son of Dr. Peter and Karolee Hansen of Kenai, Peter Erik Hansen succumbed to brain cancer at age 32. A 1982 KCHS graduate, Hansen became an Eagle Scout in 1981 as a member of Kenai Boy Scout Troop 357, and the bluff-side park was named in his memory.

BERNIE HUSS TRAIL—Off Main Street Loop in Kenai is a half-mile-long, looping community trail (formerly a fitness trail with workout stations) named for Bernard Huss, who died at age 25 in a traffic accident near Kenai in 1982. Huss, a former congressional aide for U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel and legislative aide for state Rep. Pat O’Connell, was honored for his beautification efforts within the city. With O’Connell, Huss was instrumental in allocating the funds to help Kenai’s then-mayor Vincent O’Reilly build the Kenai Recreation Center.

Part Two

 

When news the crime reached Soldotna, the shock reverberated throughout the small community. Someone had murdered one of the city’s most beloved residents, and initially no one had any idea who would have done such a thing, or why.

On July 29, 1966, the body of Joyce Carver, a 42-year-old first-grade teacher at Soldotna Elementary School and a founder of the city’s first library, had been found lying at the edge of a road between Alaska Methodist University and Providence Hospital in Anchorage. According to police reports, Carver, mother of two children and the wife of former Soldotna mayor and entrepreneur Burton Carver, had been shot in the back. Large scrapes and bruises were found on her legs, as if she had been thrown from a moving vehicle.

Initially, even Carver’s identity had been a mystery. Her body bore no identifying documents when it was discovered, 
Popular Soldotna teacher and librarian, Joyce Carver, was murdered in 1966.
and it took police some time to figure out who she was. After a lengthy investigation, law enforcement official determined that the death of Carver, who had been attending classes at AMU as part of her continuing education for her teaching certificate, could be tied tentatively to the suicide of an Anchorage lawyer named George Yates.

According to her daughter, Dawn Carver Powers, a search of Yates’s car revealed Carver’s purse, term paper and books, along with the gun that had killed them both. The coroner’s inquest, Powers said, revealed alcohol in Yates’s system at the time of his death.

In a memorial piece entitled “A Mother’s Story by her Loving Daughter,” Powers wrote, “Someone who knew Yates said that my mother looked a great deal like his ex-wife. A mystery surrounds her death.”

A few days after the death, a heavily attended funeral service was held at Kenai Methodist Church. At the ceremony, Dr. Robert Nelson, who officiated, said, “Joyce loved everyone, and everyone loved Joyce.”

Spurred by this affection, city movers and shakers began hatching plans to build a new public library and to name it in honor of Joyce Carver.

Carver—along with other library board members Dolly Farnsworth, Mable Smith, Louise Johnson and Katherine Parker—had established the city’s earliest public library in 1961 on the lower floor of Soldotna’s first health clinic. She taught volunteers the Dewey Decimal System, and helped acquire books from libraries in Anchorage, California and Indiana. That first library was dedicated during Progress Days, 1962, in a ceremony attended by then-Gov. Bill Egan. Soldotna’s current public library, the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library, was completed in July 1972.

FARNSWORTH PARK—The modest sign by the parking area at this Soldotna kiddie park proclaims that this facility, with its arrays of slides and swings and theme-oriented playground equipment, is “dedicated to the children of Soldotna.” The park was established in 1974 on a portion of the original homestead owned by Jack and Dolly Farnsworth.


John Consiel stands outside of his Keen Eye Joe's Roadhouse
in Kenai in the 1940s.
THE PILLARS—After the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake demolished the bridge spanning the Kenai River at Cooper Landing, some of the supports for the bridge were hauled west to Ridgeway and placed along the bank adjacent to the homestead property of Leo and Marion Oberts. According to their son Steven, Leo made an arrangement with A. A. Farmer that eventually resulted in the pillars’ move: Farmer hauled washed gravel off the Oberts property in exchange for building roads for Oberts. The gravel was being transported to Cooper Landing for use in creating concrete for a new bridge, and Farmer took advantage of his large empty truck upon his return trips to bring some of the old concrete to Oberts’s property, where it was used mainly to prevent bank erosion. Leo and Marion sold the property in the early 1990s, and the popular boat launch on that location is now controlled by the new owners: the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game.


KENAI JOE’S BAR—Polish immigrant John Consiel came to America in 1910 and made his way to Kenai in 1917. After working a variety of jobs, he purchased 9.81 acres atop the bluff for $2.50 an acre, and in 1924 built Keen Eye Joe’s Roadhouse there. Eventually, he also built Kenai Joe’s Bar nearby, and early on it was popular as a dance hall, with a juke box inside that played 78-rpm records for five cents a song. During this time, Consiel became known as Kenai Joe, an identity he kept intact until his death in 1970.


ARNESS DOCK—Jim Arness had a vision that he turned into reality in the early 1960s: He believed that he could built a saltwater terminal to support traffic by supply barges that could allow the Nikiski-Kenai area to receive goods without having them shipped to Seward and trucked overland. His wife, Peggy Arness, called the creation of the Arness Terminal “an Alaska phenomenon, designed and built by one person.” The Arnesses leased from the state land in Nikishka Bay, and—with little more than a pickup truck, a Cat, and some help from hired local kids—began construction of the dock in 1960. As luck would have it, the project coincided almost perfectly with the beginning of Cook Inlet oil exploration and the eventual construction of drilling platforms. As a result, business boomed—but bad luck soon followed good. Rigtenders Dock was constructed in the late 1960s, and soon nearly all of the Arnesses’s business moved south. In 1969, they sold the dock to a barge company, and eventually business rebounded as clients learned that Jim Arness had wisely selected a location superior for its friendlier waters and its tendency to be ice-free.
Arness Dock, circa 1960s.


DANIELS LAKE—After they moved from their two-room cabin on nearby Boulder Point, Earl and Florence Daniels built another small log home on the western end of the lake that came to bear their name. The Danielses had come from the Midwest to the Kenai Peninsula in the 1920s, and there they lived a true pioneering lifestyle, including using a dog team for winter transportation. They were also among the peninsula’s early purveyors of fox ranching.

COOK INLET—Most Kenai Peninsula residents know that this body of water was named for Capt. James Cook, the famous British explorer, who mapped the region in 1778. They may not know that it was given that name by a bread-and-meat connoisseur named the Earl of Sandwich, and that another famous British explorer, Capt. George Vancouver, referred to it as “Cook’s Inlet.”

STERLING—The highway and the community are named to honor engineer Hawley Winchell Sterling, who was born in LeRoy, Illinois, in 1889, and died of cancer in Renton, Washington, in 1948. He came to Alaska in 1911, and he retired as Assistant Chief Engineer for the Alaska Road Commission. The year of his death coincides with some of the major construction of the highway west from Cooper Landing. However, the story is not that simple, for the community did not take Sterling’s name at the same time as the highway. Originally, the community was called Naptowne—so named by early residents, the brothers Alex and George Petrovitch, who had come from Indianapolis, which was often called by its nickname, Naptowne. The Petrovitch families built a gas station and lunch counter along the highway and called it the Naptowne Inn. Then the Naptowne Post Office was officially established in the inn on June 1, 1949. After the retirement of Alex, the area’s first postmaster, he was succeeded by Laura Tyson, and during her tenure the area residents voted to change the name. According to Tyson, who wrote about the change in Once Upon the Kenai, switching names still “took many months and telegrams and an act of Congress” before becoming official on Oct. 1, 1954.

IZAAK WALTON STATE RECREATION SITE—For a facility in a small rural community (Sterling), this recreational area has a name with a tenuous local connection: Izaak Walton, 1593-1683, was a British nature writer who penned what was probably the first fishing book, The Compleat Angler, in 1653.

BING’S LANDING STATE RECREATION SITE—According to Once Upon the Kenai, Merle “Bing” Brown came to Alaska in 1949 after retiring as a state policeman in Jamestown, New York, and he bought the old Petrovitch homestead in what was then still called Naptowne. In 1955, he went Outside and returned with a new wife, Dot, and her daughter, Dianne Moran. The landing that would come to bear his name is located just above Naptowne Rapids, and it was in this area (and upstream to Skilak Lake) that he trapped in the winter and worked as a fishing guide in the summer. Bing Brown’s Motel, in Sterling, was built and operated initially by the Browns, but in 1970 they sold the business to Helen and Judy Warren, who retained the original name.

MORGAN’S LANDING STATE RECREATION AREA—Lew and Kathy Morgan had a homestead at this location. Lew worked as a heavy equipment operator, and Kathy was an employee of the Soldotna post office for many years. They sold the land to State Parks, which currently operates the facility.

Part Three

Author’s note: While some of the sites between Sterling and Cooper Landing have origins readily determined by a search of the records and a few key interviews, others may remain forever shrouded in mystery. The appropriately named Mystery Creek, for instance, was mentioned by the U.S. Geological  Survey as far back as 1911, but its origin has been lost.

King Thurman, a trapper and prospector who frequented the Kenai Mountains near Cooper Landing in the early 1900s, went missing in the summer of 1915. When his body was discovered several months later inside his trapping cabin along Rat Creek (the outlet for Trout Lake), it served as a grim reminder of the dangers inherent in the Alaska wilderness.

Thurman, a man who liked a solitary life and often ran afoul of the territorial game laws, this time had apparently run afoul of a brown bear with an attitude. According to information from U.S. Fish & Wildlife historian Gary Titus, two trappers seeking overnight accommodations happened upon Thurman’s cabin and discovered Thurman’s grisly remains lying on a bed inside.

The entire right side of Thurman’s torso was “torn and chewed up,” according to Titus, and so were his left hip, right arm and right leg. On the bed beside his body lay a .22-caliber revolver with a spent shell in the chamber. On his decomposing body, the trappers found a paper, the top of which declared the contents of the cabin to be the property of King Thurman, and the bottom of which contained these handwritten words: “Have ben tore up by a brown bear. No show to get out. Good-bye. I’m sane but have to suffering the of death.”

The physical evidence seemed to support the notion of his message: Thurman had been savagely mauled but had managed afterward to struggle to his cabin, where he realized he could never reach medical aid in his condition, so he shot himself to end his misery.

The trappers burned down the cabin, making it Thurman’s funeral pyre. Sometime later, the creek by which Thurman had built his cabin and spent so many solitary days, was renamed as a tribute to him and the lifestyle he had embodied.

BROWNS LAKE—Named after Gregory Norman Brown, whom some people called George, while others called him Greg. According to longtime Soldotna resident, Al Hershberger, Brown often said, “My English name is George; my Russian name is Gregory.” Brown—who had trapping cabins scattered throughout the area, including one on the lake that bears his name—was killed in a mid-air collision while flying near Chinitna Bay around 1960. He and another man, in separate planes, were scouting for brown bears when they collided and plummeted to the ground. The two sons of the other pilot witnessed the impact from the ground and were left alone for several days before someone found them. Meanwhile, bears discovered Brown’s remains and consumed most of them. Although this may have been the final tragedy in Brown’s life, it certainly wasn’t the first. Hershberger said that former Kenai marshal, Allan Petersen, once told him that Brown, who had lived in Homer before coming to Kenai, had accidentally shot and killed his own father while on a hunting trip.

KILLEY RIVER—There’s no definite answer here, but there is a strong possibility. The river has been so named since at least 1904, when it was mentioned in a U.S.G.S. report. According to Peter Kalifornsky’s  book, A Dena’ina Legacy, the Dena’ina called it Killi, which is not a Dena’ina word but may have referred to a white man in the area. According to Mary Barry’s A History of Mining on the Kenai Peninsula, a prospector named A.M. Killey had a placer claim on Palmer Creek, a tributary of Resurrection Creek, near Hope, in 1895. The timing is right, although not enough information is available presently to make a firm determination.

Bottenintnen Lake.
BOTTENINTNEN LAKE—Peter Kalifornsky wrote that this lake’s name came from the Dena’ina Batinitin Bena, which translates as “trail goes by it lake.” According to Alan Boraas, an anthropology professor for Kenai Peninsula College, the “trail” was almost certainly an exclusively winter route. Bottenintnen Lake is virtually surrounded by marsh, making it a poor choice for warm-weather passage, but during the frozen months, its surface and frozen swamps make for easy travel and likely served as a portion of a winter route to Kenai.

WATSON LAKE and PETERSEN LAKE—Part of the Seven Lakes Trail system, these two bodies of water were named for former Kenai National Moose Range employees, Gerald H. “Gerry” Watson and James D. “Jimmy” Petersen, who were lost in Skilak Lake in September 1955. Watson was a federal trainee from Portland, Oregon, working at the time under Peterson, who was the assistant manager of the moose range and the son of former area Marshal Allan Petersen. Although their bodies were never found, officials, who did find an oar and a gas can from their boat, believed that the two men drowned.

EGUMEN LAKE—The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service named this lake in the early 1960s, using a word sometimes spelled “Igumen,” a Romanian title for a monk or the father superior of a monastery. The name also applied to the peninsula’s Russian Orthodox history, particularly to Father Igumen Nikolai, the priest who founded the current Kenai parish in the 1840s.

KELLY LAKE—Another of the bodies of water along the original Seven Lakes Trail, Kelly Lake was named for Morris Kelly, the first head of predator control in Alaska territorial days and into statehood.

UPPER and LOWER OHMER LAKES—Formerly known as Upper and Lower Alcatraz—so named by the Alaska Road Commission road-building crew—these lakes were renamed in 1965 in honor of Earl N. Ohmer, who served as chairman of the Territorial Alaska Game Commission.

SKILAK LAKE—Peter Kalifornsky says that the Dena’ina called this lake Q’es Dudiden Bena, which translates as “flows into outlet lake.” The section of river between Skilak and Kenai lakes was called Sqilantnu, meaning “ridge place river,” and Kenai Lake itself was called Sqilant Bena, meaning “ridge place lake.”

Engineer Lake.
ENGINEER LAKE—This lake was almost certainly named for an Alaska Road Commission engineering camp established there while the road was being planned and built in the 1940s.

MOX LAKE—This body of water, tucked away between the Sterling Highway and Skilak Lake, was dubbed “Mox” in the early 1960s. According to Soldotna High School Russian teacher Gregory Weissenberg, “mox” (pronounced “mokh”) is the Russian word for moss.

CHATELAIN LAKE—Not far from Mox Lake, this lake was named by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in honor of Edward Chatelain, the first moose biologist for the agency in territorial days.

FULLER LAKES—Tucked into the Mystery Hills, these small lakes were not named for renowned Cooper Landing gunsmith Bill Fuller, as many people might presume. According to Fuller’s widow, Betty, who served for many years as Cooper Landing’s postmaster, Fuller Lakes get their name from Wilbert “Dad” Fuller, who in the 1920s or ’30s had a home on Kenai Lake, off what is now known as Snug Harbor Road.
Lower Fuller Lake in winter.

JIM’S LANDING—As historian Gary Titus once pointed out, the name of this boat launch, located just above the Kenai River canyon, should more properly be “Jims” (without the apostrophe) or “Jims’” (with the apostrophe after the S) because there was more than one Jim. According to mining historian Mary Barry, “Big Jim” O’Brien and “Little Jim” Dunmire prospected for a while in Cooper Landing before settling in the late 1930s on a Surprise Creek claim operated previously by Steve Melchior. (In fact, the boat launch used to be called Melchior’s Landing.) The partners worked their claims there for more than 30 years, and reported finding placer gold in a quantity enough to keep them interested.

AFONASI LAKE—Located near Watson Lake, this body of water was named for an Athabaskan chief, whose name was sometimes written as “Ephanasy” and who reportedly acted as a trailbreaker for Antone Aide, who was a mail carrier between Seward and Hope in 1903.

CHICKALOON RIVER—Almost certainly, this stream (called Nay’dini’aana, meaning “the log over the river,” by the Ahtna) was named after Chief Chickalusion, who lived in the area in the late 1800s. Chickalusion, who died around 1900 and was buried near Hope Point, occasionally warred with the Tyonek Indians while serving as patriarch of his Athabaskan tribe near Resurrection Creek.

COOPER LANDING (and MOUNTAIN and CREEK)—Joseph M. Cooper came into the country around the lower end of Kenai Lake in the 1880s and attempted to organize the Cleveland Mining District, which would encompass the entire Kenai Peninsula. He had coal interests, and he mined gold in Hope and Sunrise, before establishing a trading post at the boat landing that came to bear his name. In Cooper’s Landing, he mined the river bars for gold and later married Elizabeth Kvasnikoff, whom he met while mining for gold in the Ninilchik River. He contracted pneumonia and died around the turn of the century, and he was reportedly buried in Anchor Point.


Moonrise over Langille Mountain.
BEAN CREEK—Supposedly, this stream, which empties into the Kenai River just below the outlet of Kenai Lake, was named in the mid-1930s when a group of men building the first Kenai River bridge there was encamped along the creek and found themselves with nothing to eat but beans. (The bridge was replaced in 1950.)

LANGILLE MOUNTAIN—This craggy peak, standing high above Kenai Lake near Cooper Landing, is often viewed from the Sterling Highway by travelers hoping to spot Dall sheep on its sharp shale flanks. The mountain was named for William Langille, who was appointed the first forestry officer in Alaska in 1902.

SLAUGHTER GULCH—At least two different versions of the origin of this name exist, and either could easily be true. The essence of each tale is this: an encampment of hungry men were fed by meat hunters sent into the hills after game, which they did in great numbers up on the ledge about 1,500 vertical feet above where the Cooper Landing School now stands. The differences in the stories revolve around what was “slaughtered” up there—moose or Dall sheep—and what kind of a camp was being fed—USGS, servicemen, mine workers, or rail workers.

Winter view of Kenai Lake from the ridge above Slaughter Gulch.
CECIL RHODE MOUNTAIN—This peak was formerly called “Cooper Mountain,” after Joseph Cooper, founder of Cooper Landing, but the name was changed to honor the outdoor photographer, Cecil Rhode, who, along with his photographer wife, Helen Rhode, chronicled life and wildlife on the Kenai Peninsula, and spent considerable time on the mountain that came to bear his name. Rhode died in 1979, and Cooper got a nearby mountain named after him, instead.

 

 

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