Keith and Jackie Campbell - Tape #ORAL HISTORY 2010-05-10-tp1
Keith and Jackie Campbell were interviewed on August 6, 2010 by Rachel Mason and Karen Brewster at their home in Seward, Alaska. Keith and Jackie came from Iowa to Seward in 1971 for him to work as hospital administrator for Seward General Hospital. He retired in 1990. In this interview, the Campbells talk about life in Seward and how it has changed, Keith's work at the hospital, and their outdoors lifestyle and hunting in the Seward area. They talk about snowmachining, hunting, cross-country skiing, camping, and hiking in the Exit Glacier area, changes in the glacier and wildlife, construction of the road to the glacier, and their thoughts about establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park.
Part two of this interview.
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>DON CALLAWAY: Let's start off. And what I'd like to do, since there are two of you here, is to ask you about your childhood and where you grew up
Val Anderson was interviewed on August 6, 2010 by Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster and Shannon Kovac at his home in Seward, Alaska. Val's wife, Jean, was present at the interview and periodically added her own comments (she passed away in November 2010). Val was born in Seward, Alaska in 1926 and raised on his family's homestead on Caribou Island in Skilak Lake. His father was a big game guide in the area. Val moved to Cooper Landing in 1940 after his mother passed away. He moved to Seward after World War II. In this interview, Val talks about growing up on the island and what life was like in the area in the 1930s and 1940s, his father's guiding operation, being in the Army in World War II stationed at Shemya Island, working as a longshoreman on the waterfront in Seward, the 1964 Earthquake, and how Seward has changed over time. He talks about helping build the Herman Leirer Road to Exit Glacier, especially the blasting work he did, and how people have used the area.
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Childhood and family background
First time seeing an airplane
Growing up on Caribou Island on Skilak Lake
Meeting his wife, Jean
Homestead lifestyle on Caribou Island
His father's work as a big game hunting guide
Raising goats and gardening
Neighbors on the island
End of this father's guiding business during World War II
Jean Anderson tells the story of meeting her husband, Val
Being in the Army during World War II
Working as a longshoreman in Seward
Getting married in Oregon and driving the Alaska Highway
After effects of the earthquake
Working on construction of the Exit Glacier Road
Jean Anderson continues talking about the 1964 Earthquake
Blasting rock for the Exit Glacier Road
Use of the Exit Glacier area before the road was built
Recreational uses of the Exit Glacier area
Local support for construction of the Exit Glacier Road
More about working as a blaster on Exit Glacier Road construction
Working after the earthquake
Changes in Seward
Jean Anderson talks about photographs of the earthquake
Describes drawing of himself as a boy hanging on the wall
RACHEL MASON: Hello. It is August 6th, 2010. We're in the home of Val Anderson, and Mrs. Anderson, who is -- whose name I forget -- VAL ANDERSON: Jean.
RACHEL MASON: Jean. Val and Jean Anderson. My name's Rachel Mason, we're here in Seward. Karen Brewster and Shannon Kovac are also with me. And we're working on a project that has to do with tradition -- traditional activities around the Exit Glacier. And as -- as you remember, we're interested both in your life story and what you've done around in this area, and also what -- what activities you've done right around the Exit Glacier. VAL ANDERSON: Well, that, I'm pretty lacking in, because it very -- that amounts to very little. About the only activities I had was actually working on -- for a short time on the construction of it. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Well, we're sure interested in that.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: So could you start out by just telling us about your early days, where you were born, and early days growing up. VAL ANDERSON: Well, I was born here in -- in Seward, in Dr. Blackman's hospital where -- behind where the present First National Bank is, shows as an old log building in some of the old photographs. That's beside the point probably. And I was raised on Caribou Island and Skilak Lake where my dad was one of the early big game guides down there, and our home acted quite of the center for that. We had horses and I had camps out on Funny River for moose camp, and up on the Funny River Mountains for sheep camp at the time. RACHEL MASON: How did you happen to move from Seward to Skilak, or -- VAL ANDERSON: Well, my folks had homesteaded Caribou Island. I was just born here, we didn't live here. RACHEL MASON: Oh, I see. VAL ANDERSON: I was just born here. At that time, he was working -- in the summer, he was working in the mines out along the -- oh, the Oracle Mine on the road here to Hope was one of the various ones. Anyway, why, he was born and raised on an island in Stockholm, and it was always his ambition to have an island. And when they -- when they first came to this part of the country, they spotted Caribou Island on Skilak Lake, and that's where him and my mother headed for, and they homesteaded that and that's where I was raised. RACHEL MASON: You're lucky. KAREN BREWSTER: And what year did you -- what year were you born? VAL ANDERSON: 1926. RACHEL MASON: Did you have brothers and sisters? VAL ANDERSON: No. I had a little sister that passed away when she was only a few months old. That's all. RACHEL MASON: Oh. So did you participate in any of the hunting and guiding activities -- VAL ANDERSON: Well, no, I didn't because I was only a kid at the time, you see. That was in the early '30s. You see, I was in -- I was 14 in 1940 when my mother passed away, you see, but before that I was -- I was too small to be able to go and be involved in any of that like that. RACHEL MASON: Did you stay out at Skilak Lake after that? VAL ANDERSON: After my mother passed?
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. VAL ANDERSON: No, we moved to Cooper Landing then. RACHEL MASON: I see. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Had a place there for a while. And anyway, it might be an interesting sight, the first airplane I can remember us ever seeing was on Tustumena Lake in fall of 1929. I can still remember that was Frank Dorbrandt that is since many years gone, but one of the early pilots in the country. RACHEL MASON: Oh. What were you doing when you saw him? VAL ANDERSON: Well, at that time dad was with the Alaska Guides, and we -- mother and I went -- we had our own horses, and we went along, and we had a camp there and stayed there while dad was working with this guiding company. And later on when he -- him and Henry Lucas that used to be on Skilak set up a guiding deal of their own rather than working for that company that they did for a while. RACHEL MASON: What was that plane doing when it landed? VAL ANDERSON: I'm not really sure. It came out -- I guess it probably brought a hunter in from Anchorage, I imagine, to the camp. Because, as I say, I was pretty small, but I can remember that. Because that is quite a ways back. RACHEL MASON: Yes. Yeah. That's pretty good memory. KAREN BREWSTER: Is that -- is that one of your first memories where you -- VAL ANDERSON: Well, just about, yeah. Well, I can remember little bits and pieces, you know, but I can remember little bits and pieces, things back to when I was about three and a half, I think. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Can you tell us a little bit what it was like growing up on that island and your lifestyle? VAL ANDERSON: Well, it was quite a little different from things nowadays. We would make one trip into Seward in the fall and get our year's supply. We would come in, come up to -- up to the head of the lake and come up the trail to Cooper Landing, and then he'd get -- a boat would bring us from Cooper Landing up to the head of Kenai Lake, and that was the end of the road out of Seward at the time. We would stop over at Andy Simon's place where Andy Simon's Mountain is named after, and he was on the railroad and he would -- we had a telephone on the railroad at the time and he would call Bill Hawkins, and him and Bill Hawkins that owned Brown & Hawkins store here in Seward, came out to the Mile 18, or to Primrose they called it, where the Primrose campground is now, and meet us and take us into the Van Gilder Hotel. And we'd spend about a week here getting supplies together for the year, and then Dad would get lumber to build a boat out of. We'd take it out to his uncle's place at that -- where it was at Primrose area there, he'd build the boat, and they would load that up and go down the Skilak -- down to Kenai Lake and down the river to our place there, and then we'd take the boat apart and use it for building material and do the same thing again next year. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. That's amazing. So did you go to school at all during that time or did you -- VAL ANDERSON: Well, they had a school at Cooper Landing, and when I got old enough for that, Dad would be on one of the parties that went out in that country, other parts, we had a cabin at Cooper Landing, and my mother and I would stay there while he was gone for that. And then that was when school started. I would go to school there for about a month, and then we went back to Skilak. My mother would get the books from the school and I was taught at home. It doesn't look too good on paper, but it's always served me pretty well during the years. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. VAL ANDERSON: When you're raised like that, you learn to do things that -- because if something broke or what have you, you didn't go to a store and buy it; you either fixed it or you made a new one yourself, you know. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: My sister was the teacher out there --
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: -- that he went to.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. That was the first time I went -- my first school teacher I had out there was one of her older sisters. RACHEL MASON: No kidding? VAL ANDERSON: I knew the whole family before I met her. JEAN ANDERSON: I knew of him but I didn't know him. RACHEL MASON: But was she your teacher? VAL ANDERSON: No. Well, her sister at Cooper Landing when I first started, and then we'd get the books, and then my mother would take over from there when we were down on -- at home on Caribou Island. KAREN BREWSTER: So in terms of fixing things, how did you learn that? Did your father teach you? VAL ANDERSON: What's that?
JEAN ANDERSON: Pardon? KAREN BREWSTER: The fixing things. You said, oh, if it's broken, you would --
VAL ANDERSON: Broken, we would just -- oh, it's just the way you did things. You just --
JEAN ANDERSON: I knew the family because of my sister.
VAL ANDERSON: -- learned it as we went along, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. But your father knew how to fix all kinds of things.
VAL ANDERSON: Oh, well, sure, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And he was from Sweden, you say? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, he was born in Sweden and he came over to this country when he was 12. RACHEL MASON: Oh. So how did you two meet each other? VAL ANDERSON: Well, through a mutual friend up in -- that was raised at Cooper Landing. RACHEL MASON: I see. VAL ANDERSON: Alex Carlson her name was, at times, he was Alex White, and they came down from -- from Anchorage and flew down. He had a plane and flew down there one time, and had talked me into going back to -- to Anchorage with him to spend a couple weeks, you know, and just for the fun of it. And next thing I know he had -- they had it all set up. Here come Jean over, and that's when I first met her. JEAN ANDERSON: And he asked me if I was busy that night. He lived around the corner from us in Anchorage. VAL ANDERSON: Kind of funny when you look back on it, but that's the way it -- I guess it worked all right. We are going on our 57th year now.
RACHEL MASON: That's great. KAREN BREWSTER: And what year did you get married?
VAL ANDERSON: '53.
JEAN ANDERSON: '53.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay.
VAL ANDERSON: Excuse me. JEAN ANDERSON: We are working on our -- our -- our 57th wedding anniversary in November. RACHEL MASON: Great. Wow. That's -- that's a long time. So did you know that she had -- her sister was your teacher before? VAL ANDERSON: No, I didn't -- I didn't even know. I didn't even know she existed until many years later. RACHEL MASON: Oh. That's pretty funny.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: And just -- after you got married, did you move to Seward? VAL ANDERSON: Well, I had already started working permanently on the waterfront.
RACHEL MASON: I see. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. I started work on the waterfront here in 19 -- in May of 1951.
RACHEL MASON: Okay. VAL ANDERSON: And I retired in the first of February of in '85. KAREN BREWSTER: I just have a question back about Skilak Lake. Did you do trapping out there when you were a boy? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, I did some. Of course, I didn't, but my dad did some. Yeah, oh yes. And we had our own gardens and everything, you know. And he would -- only he would put in about a month's work for his guiding, but at the time, when people were lucky to get a job for a dollar a day, he would make 17 and a half a day guiding, you see, so he could work for a month and we would live real good for the rest of the year on that, you know. That was regular guides wages, was 17 and a half a day at that time, when we were lucky to get a job for a dollar a day a lot of places. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. How did the -- how did the clients contact him? VAL ANDERSON: Well, just from word of mouth or in -- in corresponding back and forth, you know, by mail. RACHEL MASON: How did you get mail back then? VAL ANDERSON: Well, we had to -- we had -- our Post Office was at Lawing where Nellie Neal Lawing was -- was -- you remember her, what they call Alaska Nellie, that was our Post Office. Well, mail would get brought down to Cooper Landing, although it wasn't a Post Office, and then we would make about one trip every -- maybe once a month, maybe every two months in the winter, to -- up to -- was a matter of snowshoes and skis and across the lake to get up there in the winter and to get our mail. You know. So if our packages didn't come for Christmas, we used to have -- we used to have a second Christmas in March, so next time we'd make a trip to Cooper Landing, you know, and that package would have showed up that weren't there before.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So you didn't use -- you didn't use a dog team to get around? VAL ANDERSON: No, we didn't have dogs, though we had horses and had goats for, you know, yeah, and other livestock. KAREN BREWSTER: Did you use the horses for transportation? VAL ANDERSON: The horses were used in the guiding, yeah. Yeah. And of course, for work around the house, to haul wood into the house, or whatever you needed to do, yeah. We had four for a while, and -- but they were used primarily -- that was the main thing we used them for was for the guiding. We'd pack out to the -- 15 miles out to the -- to the moose camp on Funny River, and then another 15 miles up in the mountains, what they had their sheep camp up there. RACHEL MASON: Oh. So -- VAL ANDERSON: Of course, they would go out a couple weeks ahead of time and get the tents set up and everything ready and everything packed up, and then they would meet the hunters or the clients, they would be called, I guess, on the -- on the dock here in Seward when they came in on the passenger ships, you see, and take them down -- down the lake and down the river to Skilak, and stay at our place, and then take and go out to the camps there. KAREN BREWSTER: And what were they hunting for? VAL ANDERSON: Moose and -- and sheep in that area, mainly. If they went for brown bear, usually they would go down the river to Kenai and hire a cannery tender and go across to the west side of Cook Inlet to bear hunt over there usually. RACHEL MASON: Where did the customers come from? VAL ANDERSON: Everywhere, you may say, yeah. Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: Were you -- JEAN ANDERSON: Tell them about those guys from Europe that came. VAL ANDERSON: Well, yeah, one year there was a Count Sigmond Szechenyi and a Count Hans Celmeus [Johnny] Ziersdorff and a Baron [Charles] Buxhoeveden from Austria and Hungary, and that came over from that. I've always wondered what became of them during World War II. They probably lost their heads or something in that, I don't know. RACHEL MASON: No kidding.
VAL ANDERSON: But I still have a .22 rifle that -- that --
(Telephone rings.) KAREN BREWSTER: We can pause it.
VAL ANDERSON: Excuse me.
(Pause.) KAREN BREWSTER: I just want to know, on the trapping, what did your father trap, do you know? Was it successful trapping? VAL ANDERSON: Well, not too much. Whenever we were, we were away from the mountains quite a way there, so we -- we didn't have too good a trapping, but it would get -- we'd probably, if anything, we got was coyotes. We used to trap them quite a bit because they used to have a $20 bounty on them at that time, which made them pretty valuable compared to what today's prices are, you know. JEAN ANDERSON: Tell them about that sheep, or that goat, I mean.
VAL ANDERSON: Oh, about my --
JEAN ANDERSON: That goat. VAL ANDERSON: -- my friend, the big old billy goat that was my best pal when I was a little kid. Yeah. Yeah, that was fun, all right. I would -- big, old, stinky billy goat, he'd -- I get playing with him round and around, you know, and wrestled around, and I'd finally get tired and would go in, and he'd stand with his head through the fence and cry for a half hour after I left. RACHEL MASON: Now, this was a tame goat. VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. Right. Yeah, we had goats for milk and butter and things like that, you know. RACHEL MASON: Well, what did you grow in your garden? VAL ANDERSON: Well, just regular vegetables. We did just about everything. We grew a lot of things that people didn't think they could grow at the time. We even had a spot up on top of the island where we grew a little grain, and one time we used a hand coffee grinder and made a -- grind wheat and made a loaf of bread out of it even one time. KAREN BREWSTER: What were some of the -- what did people think you couldn't grow? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, a lot of people didn't realize, it's hard to remember exactly which thing, but we did quite a bit of experimenting with different things, you know. My mother was a quite an avid botanist, and she had a lot of flowers of different kinds. And then later years we had -- for a while we had a, kind of a mail order seed business that we worked up, we'd raise -- gather wild flower seeds and package them and even had a little catalog printed one time up, that for seeds for stuff that was grown up here, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: What was the name -- did you have a name for that company? VAL ANDERSON: No. No. Huh uh. I think Caribou Island Seeds or something like that. I forget now. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Were there other people living near you
VAL ANDERSON: No. Huh uh.
RACHEL MASON: -- that you socialized with? Or... VAL ANDERSON: No. We were the only ones on the island at the time. This Hank Lucas and George Nelson were there for a while, but then Hank Lucas, he was out, he was one of the guides out in Alaska Guides, and he got an attack of appendicitis, and he was -- they got him into Anchorage in time and survived all right, but he never could do much guiding after that because he was pretty poor shape for quite awhile afterwards. RACHEL MASON: Did your dad hire other guides to help him? VAL ANDERSON: Well, yeah, or else he'd work with some others, too, you know. You probably know of Andy Simons.
RACHEL MASON: Sure. VAL ANDERSON: He's pretty well known. He was one that used to come down all the time. And his stepson Frank Ravelle (phonetic), and then Luke Elwell (phonetic), and then -- and then there was George Nelson and Hank Lucas. But the ones that were in -- all in the area. Sometimes they wouldn't get a party, we'd need help, and one would help the other, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So how -- who were your closest neighbors? VAL ANDERSON: Well, Cooper Landing, I would say, yeah. The Lean family. [Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lean, their son is Nick Lean] That was the aunt and uncle lived there, this lady and her wife -- and her husband, rather, that he introduced Jean and I together. RACHEL MASON: Did your dad keep guiding during the war, during the World War II? VAL ANDERSON: No, that was -- that pretty well faded out when the airplanes came in because then, you see, in the early days, they'd make arrangement during the winter by corresponding back and forth, and they'd set up everything. People would come across the country by train to Seattle, they would come up to -- to Seward on the boat, and we'd meet them there. And they'd take them down to the hunting camp and out in all this, different places, a month -- a month or so. When they went home, they had a trip of their lifetime they'd remember. When they come later on, when thein flying, they would come down, they'd fly out, and bang, shoot at moose one day, and be flying back somewhere else the next day, and they could say where had they been? It didn't amount to anything, it just -- it just kind of died out because of that. But those people years back when they had one of those long, extended trips and everything set up for them, they really had a trip of a lifetime out of it, you know. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: And anyway, the way we met was that Phyllis, my sister, that was a teacher, she would talk about him being down at the island and being at the -- at Cooper Landing, you know, and she'd come over to Cordova to visit in the summertime. And -- and she married this Carl Carlson, and he worked in Cordova, and then he and his wife moved over here, and her two younger sisters were born here, she and I were born in Cordova. And -- and when their mother, when she had their -- their mother had the younger sister, she passed away when -- when Ima, her name was Ima Jean, everybody just called her Imo. And she passed away when she was 16. RACHEL MASON: Oh. JEAN ANDERSON: When she was six months -- weeks old, I mean. Excuse me.
RACHEL MASON: Oh. JEAN ANDERSON: And so anyway, this Mrs. Lean, Vern Lane and his first wife had been sisters. So he brought them out to the Landing to -- and they grew up with their -- their cousin. VAL ANDERSON: Nick Lean, you may have known -- know of him. He's been out there at the Landing in later years. JEAN ANDERSON: Anyway, Carl and Phyllis got married, and they had these three girls, and they were in grade school, you know, there was about eight kids in school, and so, that were out there. VAL ANDERSON: So my schooling -- my mother always said she learned more when she was teaching me than she did when she went to school herself. RACHEL MASON: That's right. Where did your mother grow up? VAL ANDERSON: Huh? She was born in Port Townsend in Washington -- RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. VAL ANDERSON: -- where she was born, yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: But anyway, this night -- this Alex, her name was Alex, and Harry White, they lived right around the corner from us in Anchorage; and I'd go over to visit her, she had little kids, you know, and Harry was working all the time and flying and everything and taking people out moose hunting and all. And she said, are you going to do anything tonight? And I says, no. And she says, well, come on over and see us, will you? And I says, okay. So I walked over there, and pretty soon he shows up. And they had -- they had that all planned. KAREN BREWSTER: It was a setup. RACHEL MASON: After they first warmed you up by telling you all the stories about Caribou Island. JEAN ANDERSON: Yeah. We were both 20 years old at the time. RACHEL MASON: That's great. JEAN ANDERSON: And he'd been in the Army out at Shemya. RACHEL MASON: Oh, really. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: During the Second World War. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, well that's what -- I was going to ask you about what you did during the Second World War. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I went in the Army on the 4th of August in 1944, and I got out in July of '45 -- '46. Early July of '46. KAREN BREWSTER: Tell us about that. Tell us about being in the Army. VAL ANDERSON: Huh? KAREN BREWSTER: Tell us about being in the Army. VAL ANDERSON: Well, there's not a lot to it. I went through basic training at Ft. Richardson, and then I was sent out to -- to Shemya, and ended up in what they call the Army Exchange or PX out there, and that's where I spent my time in out doing there, which suited me just fine. And I always wondered how come that I didn't get sent off because about the time that I got out of Infantry basic training and at Fort Rich, they were -- I was in a replacement center and they were yanking guys out of the Air Force and everywhere else that went into that Army that went into Okinawa where they lost about half of them, and I ended up out in a -- in a PX in Shemya. Always wondered why. And I don't know the facts of it for sure, but I've been told indirectly that there had been an executive order that Alaska resident couldn't be sent out of Alaska unless they requested it. RACHEL MASON: Wow. VAL ANDERSON: So I -- I always figured that's what saved me from being in that. But I've been -- only indirectly have heard that, never was able to verify it because it's made reasonable because here I came out of Infantry basic training, would be automatic, waiting for an assignment, would've been automatic for something like that, and say you ended up in the PX in Shemya. KAREN BREWSTER: So what was your job at the PX? VAL ANDERSON: Well, I ended up as a warehouseman for that. And nice part of it what they called -- what they called a profit organization, even though it didn't amount to much, why, I made as much as I -- quite a little more. And then during the time I was out there, I sent money home enough to when I got out, got home, I went into here to Seward of Mrs. [Charles] Lechner that had the Ford agency at the time, and brought me a brand new Ford and paid cash for it, and I always said I was that much ahead of the Army. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: But anyway, about this -- meeting him that night, seeing Alex and Harry, they take off to their show and left us baby sitting. RACHEL MASON: Oh, very romantic. JEAN ANDERSON: Yeah. In Anchorage. KAREN BREWSTER: So did your work as a warehouseman, is that what led you to work on the docks? VAL ANDERSON: Well, not necessarily, but I did before I started on here, I went to -- I worked for the Alaska Road Commission when they were building the road to Kenai. I spent one winter and worked down there in their shop as a parts man. Of course, that had a little bit to do with what I had been doing before; but then I just automatically kind of gravitated to work on the waterfront because I always liked fishing and likes of that. And when I was working on the waterfront, that was one thing about it, you didn't have to ask anybody or tell anybody if you wanted to take off and do something else, you just did; and when you went back, you went back to work, you know. It was very -- we had a strange system. We were -- we were actually what you'd call hired and fired every day because we had a daily dispatch. And if you weren't there for when they were starting the day, why, somebody would take your place; and when you came back, you'd take your place again. You know. KAREN BREWSTER: So that -- so you were a longshoreman.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That was the way the union worked?
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: You went to the union hall in the morning? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. Uh hum. Last two years before I retired I was dispatcher, which worked out pretty good. RACHEL MASON: So after the war, you came back and settled in Seward? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. I was -- as I say, when I first came out my dad had a -- the old Hershey Mine out of Hope up at the head of Resurrection Creek, Swetmann that used to have the drug store here in Seward owned that, and he wanted to prospect, and dad was, of course, a hard rock miner, he had done that before he went into guiding, you know. And he had a deal where he was driving a tunnel for prospecting, and I worked with him for a while when I first got out of the Army, worked with him, and then later on I started work on the waterfront. Then I worked for that summer of '47 on the waterfront, and then I had that job down there for -- and the Road Commission in Kenai, went to camp they had there. Then I fished, started fishing on Cook Inlet in between. And anyway, finally in the spring of '51, I ended up on the waterfront here for -- and stayed with it until I retired. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. And you got married somewhere along there. What -- what --
VAL ANDERSON: '53.
RACHEL MASON: '53.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Okay. Then Jean, did you move down to Seward with him at that time? VAL ANDERSON: Well, we were married in McMinnville, Oregon.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, you were. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. In '52, her dad and mother, he retired from MK in Anchorage, and they moved out to McMinnville, Oregon, and we went down the highway and I went with them and -- and took turns driving with her dad, and then they stayed there and I came back and worked the next year. Then the next fall they came down and we were married in McMinnville, Oregon. RACHEL MASON: What was the Alaska Highway like at that time?
VAL ANDERSON: Rocks. RACHEL MASON: It was all rocks? Huh.
JEAN ANDERSON: And I mean rocks.
VAL ANDERSON: Rocks and a little gravel. RACHEL MASON: How long did it take you to drive down there? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, if you took it easy and didn't -- ones that would have trouble, they would try to go fast over the rough stuff and that would blow tires. But if you stayed under 50 miles an hour, it took you about a week to make the trip down, you know, and you didn't have any trouble if you took it easy, you know. But if you tried to go fast, and then, you know, those tires, they were made out of rayon at the time before nylon came in, and they just couldn't take it, you know. RACHEL MASON: Did you have a lot of flat tires anyway? VAL ANDERSON: In all those years, when we came back here in '05, when we -- and after I retired, I went and got a -- had a place in Bothell, Washington, had a 20 by 60 mobile home there for a while, we'd spend our winters in what they call snowbirding, you know. And then we finally decided to quit that and move back here. When we came back in the summer of '05, that was our number 51 way over the Alaska Highway. RACHEL MASON: Oh, really.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
VAL ANDERSON: So we had a bit. KAREN BREWSTER: And then do you have children? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Our oldest daughter, Susan, and Bob White, you know, they have White's Floor Covering. Out here.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah. VAL ANDERSON: And then our younger daughter is in Juneau, and our son is in Rathdrum, Idaho. Eric. Our daughter in Juneau is Sharon, and Susie and her husband are here. RACHEL MASON: Is -- is that the same Bob White that -- that we're going to be talking to? That there's -- there's only one Bob White here in Seward?
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: These are our pictures here, our great grandchildren.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: You have a lot of them. JEAN ANDERSON: Just three. Sharon doesn't have any kids, all she's got is dogs. RACHEL MASON: That must keep her busy. So you must have been -- you were here when the earthquake happened. VAL ANDERSON: Yes. I -- I was working on the waterfront then, and at that time, we had to -- we had two groups here. They had a dockside and a shipside, and I always worked with shipside. For some reason, all the work at Standard Oil Compane tankers [M.S. Alaska Standard] used to come here, and that had package goods to handle, and the shipside group had the deal to work that. So whenever a tanker came in, why, we worked over there, and I had worked on that dock until after three o'clock that afternoon and we finished our job and came home. They had the little Alaska Standard they called the Peddler, one that loaded here and took the small ports up and down the coast here, you know. And it would -- had package goods loaded aboard, and we had done that, and they were still taking bulk aboard, and we finished that, and finished it or loading package goods and came home, and it was still taking bulk on when the earthquake hit. And one of the guys they called a hose tender was on the dock, he was -- what the heck was his name, I forgot -- a guy from Seldovia. The last thing he remembered was the dock folding up around him, and he came to washed aboard the deck of the tanker with a broken leg and survived. RACHEL MASON: Wow.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. JEAN ANDERSON: Yeah. Thank goodness all three kids were sitting on the --
VAL ANDERSON: Ted Pedersen, I think his name was.
JEAN ANDERSON: -- on the floor here watching this, they were making fun of the space age. Oh, yeah. Always thankful for that, because the kids were right here instead -- instead of scattered around the neighborhood someplace.
RACHEL MASON: That's good.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: And so you were -- all the kids were home and you were home when that happened.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: And then we gets out to the first bridge, and we couldn't get across the bridge. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, the bridge was up here like this, and the road was down there. The bridge was -- all the steel piling were down deep and they didn't go up, but the road dropped.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, wow. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. And it was just rig -- square edge to the edge of the bridge about that high so you couldn't get over it. RACHEL MASON: Were there a lot of people --
VAL ANDERSON: Ended up going into Forest Acres to the -- Mike and Chris Rice's house, and so we stayed there until things quieted down and they got things back together and came back in the house. But when we left here, we didn't figure that anything was left. When we got out to Rice's place, I told Jean, I said, we better figure that you and I and the kids are together, and that's what we've got, you know, and I could hardly believe it when I found out our house was still here. Like I say, it was just a solid wall of fire here, we figured everything would go, you know. JEAN ANDERSON: Our neighbors were right ahead of us. And George gets out and they wondered what they were going to do. They had two kids, a boy and a girl, and they said, well, they knew these people up in Forest Acres. And so we went up there. And of course, that night everybody was all shook, you know. And the next day I got talking to Mike and here he'd been a good friend... VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, that dumb thing, it should've have been moved. Sorry about that.
JEAN ANDERSON: ...of my oldest brother's in Cordova.
RACHEL MASON: Really? JEAN ANDERSON: And I didn't know him at the time, you know, and I didn't know his wife. But he was born over there, too. But his wife had never been in Cordova. RACHEL MASON: Let's see. Were any of your neighbors's houses damaged? VAL ANDERSON: No, not here. You see, there's so much slope to the land here, you see. And the tanks had ruptured and everything, they float out on the water and they burned down on the water. There was only about three houses right next to the tanks that burned down there, actually. KAREN BREWSTER: So the fire all went out. VAL ANDERSON: It was all on the water. It slopes to land, you see everything that -- they all flowed out onto the water.
RACHEL MASON: Wow.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: And for some crazy reason our son cannot reach a -- cannot remember a thing about the earthquake. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, our son was -- RACHEL MASON: How old was he? VAL ANDERSON: He was -- he would have been four the 9th of April, and he still says he has absolutely has no memory at all. I think he has a mental block because his daughter -- his sisters were screaming their heads off, you know, and scared, you'd think he'd remember that, but he doesn't. RACHEL MASON: Do his sisters remember anything about it?
VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah, they do. Sure. Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: And Sharon down in Juneau now, she said her husband came home from school -- from work one night and said that he -- that someone had told him that one of the TV stations in Juneau was going to start showing the old -- old black and white TV programs again, and they came to that program that the kids were watching, this making fun of the space age, you know, and they were puppets, and she says a cold shiver went down her back. VAL ANDERSON: As soon as she heard that name of it, you know.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: But I fell down these stupid stairs. And then I fell under the car. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, see, because when it hit, she was in the bathroom. And I got in there and got a -- we had one of those lights in here that you pull down, you know, use it and then push back up, and it was swinging back and forth across the room, and trying to dodge that. And I got her out to the front steps and she slipped, slid down the steps, and she got down and I picked her up, tried to get her in the car, she slipped and slid halfway under the car, and I just picked her up and threw her in the car. And in the meantime, the kids they were just like scared rabbits, they were in the car, just in a bang, like that, you know. And I remember backing out of the driveway and going down the street and thinking to myself, now, I've got to be careful, I can't make any mistake. And I stopped at every stop sign and looked careful before I went and everything, you know. You can't make any mistakes now. RACHEL MASON: Did you see a lot of other people out? VAL ANDERSON: Well, yeah, but I was too busy getting it us it was. Once we got -- we got out and started, you know how the Lagoon Road used to be water on both sides, and the dump was over there, you know, and you could look out and you could see the -- the boat harbor and you could see power barges and stuff a coming up on the wave way above the -- the breakwater, what's left of the breakwater, you know. But then we were going across the Lagoon Road and got out of the way from it, you know, before the main waves came in. The local waves here, they're just like you take a -- a pan of water and shake it, where heaping up you know, and that knocked all the docks down and everything, and the boat harbor and the whole bit like that. JEAN ANDERSON: This house, believe it or not, it was going like this. And I was brushing my -- I was VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, it was motion in a certain direction. JEAN ANDERSON: I just got through brushing my teeth, and I had the -- I had the -- the -- the deal in my hand, but -- VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, she had a toothbrush in her hand, we got out wherever we stopped, she still had that toothbrush in her hand. JEAN ANDERSON: And I -- I had to grab on to the side of the wash -- the washbowl to keep from going head first in the bathtub. RACHEL MASON: Wow. JEAN ANDERSON: And I lost every dish in the place. And Kathleen Kontra, they were the people that went with us, showed us where to go, and they lived a couple of doors down, and she says -- or she was a nurse. And she says, well, go in our house, and it was several days later, and this Jack, this friend of ours, lived out the road, and he knew the guy's they -- they didn't ask them where they wanted to work, they just told them to work. VAL ANDERSON: Well, it's what you do. You do what had to be done, that's all. JEAN ANDERSON: Put up chimneys and pick up stuff, you know, and whatever. And Jack knew that we'd bought about $600 worth of groceries from Mr. Metcalf where the -- the Mormon Church is now. So he says, we're going to town, because they wouldn't let him, and Kathleen was giving shots that day. And she said, well, look in our house, too, will you get stuff out of the refrigerator and the cupboards. And like I say, everything in our cupboards just went on the floor. And their cupboards went this way, and our cupboards were on this side. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, the motion was a certain direction. If your stuff was pointed in with than it was alright, otherwise it wasn't, you know. JEAN ANDERSON: Of course, they left this door. Didn't have a chance to get a sweater on or nothing. I had just got out of the hospital. VAL ANDERSON: We didn't even shut the front door, we -- all we could think was get away from the fire, you know. JEAN ANDERSON: I just had a housecoat on, you know. And these darn slippers, they were like they give you in the hospital, you know. And I slipped on the ice and the snow on the steps. And -- but anyhow, Jack and I went in their house, went in the front door, and all -- they had a easy chair like that, and they had a -- either it was a mirror or a picture on the wall, and all it did was fall down between the wall and the -- and the chair, and all he did was just pick it up and put it back on its hook. It wasn't even cracked. RACHEL MASON: What was it like living in Seward in the months after the earthquake?
VAL ANDERSON: Huh? RACHEL MASON: What was it like living in Seward in the months after the earthquake? VAL ANDERSON: Well, of course, we were busy working on the cleanup and everything for quite awhile. And then after the cleanup, then they had to change out all the water lines, the sewer lines, and everything had to be redone. And I worked with a construction company doing that for -- and as a result of it, of course, the waterfront was gone, but doing that I got a chance to get in the Laborers under general construction. So where I was able to -- before they got the waterfront built back, I was able to work on water and construction jobs here, being as I belonged to the Laborers, too, you see. So I didn't have to leave home like some of the guys did to get work, you know. So it worked out real good for me. RACHEL MASON: That's good. KAREN BREWSTER: So the longshoring you did, you didn't work with the railroad, then; you didn't unload ships to the railroad? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah, sure.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you did?
VAL ANDERSON: That was all -- unloaded everything that came in here, yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: The dock was in front of town.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And you did all of it? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, the docks were down here. Of course, they went down and we didn't have it until they got a dock built back out here, you see, they built the dock where it is out here now, that was built after the earthquake. I worked even on that for a while, and one fall after the -- the Laborer jobs, I worked on their -- on temporary with a pile bucks union, as they called it, working on the building of the dock out there. JEAN ANDERSON: And they had fences all along so the kids couldn't even get down on the -- on the beach. VAL ANDERSON: Well, yeah. The railroad yard used to be -- you just had a single road around town because you couldn't even get to the water because the whole railroad yard went all the way around it, you know. Tracks went almost all the way to the waterfall. Switch track back, it went clear back past the dock there, over there. RACHEL MASON: Wow. VAL ANDERSON: So since after that, now it's got all that nice area for campers and everything, that was all railroad yards before, you see. JEAN ANDERSON: You probably heard of Dale Lindsey. VAL ANDERSON: Oh, well, of course, yeah. JEAN ANDERSON: And his mother was coming for -- for dinner that night and Val was out in the kitchen making moose hamburgers. And she had taken care of the kids while I was in the hospital, got the girls to school, you know, and take -- took care of Eric and got the meals, you know. And she was coming for dinner about 5:30, so I thought, well, I better go and change my housecoat, and I did that, and then I went in the bathroom to -- to brush my teeth, and like I say, I just grabbed ahold of the edge of the washbowl and to keep from going head first in the bathtub. And she said when she stopped here, it felt like all four tires were flat. And she knew what was going on, this whole thing was fire. The bay. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Okay. We wanted to move on to asking about the road
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: -- that you built. That we've heard a little bit about Herman Leirer deciding to build a road, and wondered how you got involved in that project. VAL ANDERSON: Well, the only thing is as I say, I -- I worked with the -- after the earthquake, I worked with the Laborers. And he needed help, and he went to the Laborers dispatcher and asked me to come up there and work with him. And so I happened to get a job, and just we made that one rock cut, that was the only thing that I had anything to do with it. As I say, I was what they call a chuck tender, where the guy with the -- running the wagon drill, that's drilling the deep holes for blasting, you see. The big rock cut. RACHEL MASON: Okay. Were you the only one like that? Or did VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Well, then, when we got ready to fire, why, then Percy Blatchford and Danny Wheeler came and helped out to -- loading everything, and getting ready to shoot it, you know. But just Herman and I did the -- the hole boring before that. RACHEL MASON: Do you know how he got the money together for this project? VAL ANDERSON: I don't know the details of that. It was kind of a personal project of his. He scratched and did whatever promoting he could do. How it did came about, I couldn't tell you that. So I don't know who -- I don't know whether his son would -- Steve. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. VAL ANDERSON: Have you talked to him? RACHEL MASON: We haven't talked to him yet, but he's been suggested to us. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, he should probably tell you more about that, he should know that, but I don't really know that because I was working elsewhere until that came up and they wanted me to do that job, you know, so I did. RACHEL MASON: What year was it that -- VAL ANDERSON: I can't really remember, to be honest with you. RACHEL MASON: Was it in the '60s or '70s? KAREN BREWSTER: Before the earthquake or after the earthquake? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, it was after the earthquake. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah. It was before we got busy with all the stuff that came in for the pipeline. RACHEL MASON: Okay.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: So it must have been between the '60s -- late '60s. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, somewheres in there, I couldn't really tell you. Steve might, of course, would be able to tell you that.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So you were running a rig to be drilling the holes for the dynamite? VAL ANDERSON: No, I was -- he was doing that. I was grinding the bits and getting the stuff ready and helping him move things. And there's just what they call a chuck tender that works with -- with the driller. That's all I was doing, you see. KAREN BREWSTER: I've never heard the word a chuck tender. I didn't know what that was. VAL ANDERSON: Well, that's what they mean. The chuck is where they -- in the drilling machine is when they put it, that's the term they use for it. KAREN BREWSTER: Chuck is like the bit, the drill bit? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, where they put the drill -- drill steel in.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. That's why the term they use for it. And the bits they screw onto the end, you see, and they had a grinder there, and I would -- the dull ones, when they'd use them for quite awhile, they'd get dull, and I would grind them sharp again while he was working with others, and various things like that. Just whatever had to be done. RACHEL MASON: How long did your part of it take? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, I think it was only about probably a couple, three weeks or something like that until we got ready, and they made that shot, and that was all. And they came in with a D9 with one of them big hooks, you know, and that loosens it all up so they could dig it out and finish the road in to where the bridge is built. KAREN BREWSTER: Which part were -- which part of the road were you working on? VAL ANDERSON: The last -- just before you -- you come along the river, just about close to the bridge, and you go up a little hill, and there's that lookout point there. And then as you start to go down a little bit between there and where those rest rooms are at the head of the bridge, it was a big bluff there or big hill through there. We made the cut through right from where the little bit -- the other side of that parking area to between that and where it comes down to where it goes across the bridge. KAREN BREWSTER: So about how long of an area were you blowing? VAL ANDERSON: I think that cut was about 400 feet when we shot it, something like that. Yeah. Of course, that took a lot of holes drilling. The holes were 16, 18 feet deep, you know, and took a lot of drilling to -- to get it done. It was a lot of holes. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember how many holes or how far apart each hole? VAL ANDERSON: I couldn't. It all depends on how deep each one of them are. They go in the middle, and then farther out, and you had the first, second, and third delay. You had electric firing. They'd shoot the one in the first and that brings that up, and the next one brings that in, and brings it in, so first, second, and third delay -- RACHEL MASON: Uh hum. VAL ANDERSON: -- when they shoot it. KAREN BREWSTER: And then how far away did you go to be out of the shot blast? VAL ANDERSON: Well, you can't be enough, far enough away. Several hundred yards really hiding behind a big tree. You had electric firing deal to set it off, you know, and had one guy up the road the other way to make sure nobody came, and another one down each way, you know, and the shot didn't really do much, didn't more than knock the bark off a few trees around, they did real good, but just shook it up enough to where they could get in there and rip it out, you know. RACHEL MASON: Wow. JEAN ANDERSON: Anyway, now in the old boat harbor, there was a Texaco down there, and it was exploding. All those big tanks. VAL ANDERSON: Well, yeah, they had two bulk plants here. JEAN ANDERSON: And I saw a barge getting up over the -- the waves were coming in, you know, and they were picking up this -- this barge over the -- the breakwater. And we had the biggest one, and the one that we heard the most was about eleven o'clock that night, and we'd hear rocks coming down off the mountains. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, and the roar of the tidal waves coming in.
RACHEL MASON: It must've been scary. VAL ANDERSON: Anyway, back to that rock cut. When we got ready to load it, we used what they called ammonium nitrate fertilizer. And before that you -- you can use it, you have to activate it by putting diesel oil in it.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. VAL ANDERSON: I would open the bags, it's just a granular stuff in there and I would take a 2 pound coffee can that had holes in the bottom, and I'd open the bags and then sprinkle that too there. And had to do that, that was before you get -- then you put what they call power primer, dynamite that you put in the primer you put down in the bottom of the hole, and then you put this ammonium nitrate fertilizer on top of it. RACHEL MASON: How did you learn about how to -- what to do there? VAL ANDERSON: Just knew what to do. I was told what to do and I did it, you know, that's all. They come in 50 pound bags, I think it was, I had to put so much in each bag. RACHEL MASON: Wow. VAL ANDERSON: I spent one day doing that before we got ready to -- to load it with, and then they'd take those bags and they'd -- we'd put that primer down first, and the few there, they -- what they call primer cord that came up to the top. And then had that primer, power primer, they called it dynamite there in the bottom, and then the fertilizer on top of it. RACHEL MASON: Well, after -- after your part was done on the road, did they just leave it sit for the rest of the -- for -- VAL ANDERSON: I don't know how long. It was a little while afterwards. And they had came in with a D9 Cat, and then they -- with one of them big hooks when it was all shook up, then they could sweep it out and build the road in it. I don't remember whether they did that that same fall or after that. I can't remember. KAREN BREWSTER: So you worked on -- the couple weeks you worked on that blasting was in the falltime? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. It was in late, towards the fall, as I remember, yeah. Yeah. Uh hum. RACHEL MASON: And how many years did it take them to -- to make the whole road? VAL ANDERSON: I can't really remember because other than that, I had -- I never went up there to know how long they were doing it. I was busy on the waterfront, you see. And then... KAREN BREWSTER: So was that your first time going up that valley? Had you ever been up there? VAL ANDERSON: I think I may say so, yeah, because that's when the road was first built, and I never went up there before that, no. I had no reason to. KAREN BREWSTER: I wondered how much people in Seward went up there before there was a road. Did other people go up? VAL ANDERSON: Well, quite a few of them hunted here. There used to be a couple landing strips up there and they used to land up there and hunt, but I never went that way. I always went out to country that I knew off of Skilak and out that way, you know, was where I -- because that's the country that I knew. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But you knew that -- you knew of other people in town who went up to those air strips? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. I can't remember who all really now, to be honest about it. KAREN BREWSTER: Did it seem like there were a lot of people or just a couple? VAL ANDERSON: That, I couldn't really tell you. RACHEL MASON: So did your hunting, was that mainly moose or what -- what kind of stuff did you get? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, moose would be, yeah, yeah. Well, of course, once in awhile somebody would go up there and they'd go up the mountain for goat or something like that, but it was primarily moose hunting area. That's what I went after. RACHEL MASON: And you said you went up to Skilak area? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, I'd go down in -- in what they called the Kenai burn. You see, after that area burned down in '47, it made that big area on the north side of Skilak. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. That made for better hunting out there. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I remember when we lived on Skilak, my dad made the remark one time, we -- hell of a good thing that if that north side of the lake burned because there was old black spruce and everything, and there was no game over there at all hardly. And then -- and then on the Funny River and the south side of Skilak, that had burned -- I don't know, somewhere in the early 1900s, somewhere in that, and that was a primary moose country. But then after that burn over on the other side, then that turned into the -- the long time turned into primary country, all the stuff that grew up after the -- after the fire. RACHEL MASON: And the moose must have liked that.
VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: With those little tender trees and they -- they'd come in there.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Did any other kind of game other than moose increase in that area? VAL ANDERSON: That, I wouldn't say so, no, not really. It just improved it because all that young birch had moved up, and that's what moose would browse on. RACHEL MASON: Uh hum. So did you ever do any hunting around Seward area, or around this place? VAL ANDERSON: Not really. A time or two went out -- out by boat out over to Day Harbor and got a goat or two out there, but that's all.
RACHEL MASON: Uh hum. Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you said -- so up the Resurrection River towards Exit Glacier, you didn't go up and do recreation or anything up there? VAL ANDERSON: No, no, I never did. Huh uh. No.
KAREN BREWSTER: You never skied or snow machined? VAL ANDERSON: Of course, there wasn't really anything like that up there then because there was no trail. Most of them, they say they went up there, they flew on one of those -- they used to have one, they called a T-craft strip up there somewhere or another. You may have heard of it. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know where that strip was? VAL ANDERSON: No, I have no idea because I had never been up that far.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: How about your kids, did they ever go up --
VAL ANDERSON: No, they weren't -- RACHEL MASON: -- recreating up there? VAL ANDERSON: They weren't into hunting much. So they didn't. My son was never interested in that, and he wasn't going to go for that. KAREN BREWSTER: And no snow machining, skiing, hiking, anything up there? VAL ANDERSON: Not really, no. Not in that area, no. As I say, I don't -- I know very little about that. Doug could probably tell more about that, really, than I could by quite a bit. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But it's interesting, your work on the road. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. It was just for that short time with Herman, yeah. RACHEL MASON: Was the road very -- were people in Seward supportive of the road at that time? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, I guess. Not as enthusiastic as Herman was. Of course, it never would probably have got done if it hadn't been for Herman's enthusiasm. He's the one that really was the spark plug for getting it going, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So was that interesting work to do that blasting? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah, it was something I hadn't done before. Yeah. Yeah. Very interesting working with that type of explosive. When I first came out of the Army, as I said, I worked with my dad up at the -- at the mine up at Palmer Creek, the old Hershey Mine, and then we used powder then, but we didn't use this stuff that was regular dynamite we used there. He used to do the drilling, and I would sharpen bits and make up the pot and stuff ready to load to shoot, you know, with, and the likes of that. RACHEL MASON: You mentioned that Steve Leirer could tell us a little bit more about the -- the specifics of the road. Is there anybody else that's still around now that you would suggest that could tell us about making that road? VAL ANDERSON: I don't know who it would be, honestly. I'm getting to be such an old fogey that few of them are -- RACHEL MASON: We did talk to Percy --
VAL ANDERSON: -- are left now. RACHEL MASON: We talked to Percy Blatchford, and -- VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Danny Wheeler, he's passed away quite awhile ago. KAREN BREWSTER: Now, Percy did all the -- how come Percy was brought in? You said you -- VAL ANDERSON: Well, he belonged to the Laborers local, too, you see. So did -- so did Danny Wheeler. KAREN BREWSTER: But it seemed like Percy knew more about blasting? Or not? VAL ANDERSON: Well, he had done it all right, yeah. He had done it before, I think, all right, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds kind of scary working with explosives and dynamite. VAL ANDERSON: Not really. It's not near as what most people think it is. You just have to use a little bit of common sense, that's all. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And was Herman experienced with that? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, to a point, I guess. Back in those years, a person did most everything, you know. He had did the drilling, he knew how to do that, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, there are -- were there other places on the road that they had blasted before your part? VAL ANDERSON: I guess there was some, but not a lot. I think that was the biggest cut that had to be -- it was kind of a shoulder that went down there, that instead of trying to go over it, they went through it, you see. Remember, the cut was about 400 feet long, it took quite a lot of holes to do it. But there were probably -- the holes were probably about 4 or 5 feet apart, and down anywhere from 15 to 18, 20 feet, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: How many would you --
VAL ANDERSON: With a wagon drill. KAREN BREWSTER: How many would you do at once? Would you do one hole or -- you load up a few holes? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, a load, when we shot the thing, we loaded the darn thing all at once. Everything was shot at once. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. You see, they were in the row, and the holes were in line, and the ones were angled down there close together, those were the ones that went first, they tend to bring that up like that, and then the delays in the ones over here, they would bring it in like this, and then in this way, you see. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that was the one, two, three delay you talked about. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, uh huh. They used what they call primer cord. It looks just like a fuse but it's instantaneous. We didn't have to use a primer on the dynamite, we'd just poke a hole through the stick, poke that to it and wrap a half hitch around it, and then drop it down there. Then when they got -- and that left them sticking out of each hole. Then when they got out on top, then they had to line this stuff down and you'd tape it, you'd make a half hitch around the one that was on the surface with each one coming out of the hole, and then tape it. And then they had to -- on the ends of those, and they had those timer fuses, you see. But that's what they call primer cord, that was instantaneous, the length and the fire the ones it was hooked to, because the first was a line down the first holes, in the middle would -- would be cold cuts with it, bring it up like that, and then the next ones, and bring it in. KAREN BREWSTER: So when it -- so when it went off, it went bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup, bup. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, but it was so quick together you couldn't tell it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. VAL ANDERSON: It was just a particle second between it, you see. KAREN BREWSTER: So you said it was an electric -- how did you set it off? VAL ANDERSON: Well, they have an electric, kind of a dynamo, I guess you'd call it, that sends a current to the electric primers. KAREN BREWSTER: Is that the old kind of box that you push down on? VAL ANDERSON: Yeah, it could have been. No, this was more modern than that. It was like the old ones were like that, yeah. This was a small rig of some kind, you just twist it with your hand. But you see, you only had about -- you only had about six primers, but there was two on each one. You didn't depend on one setting it off, you always had at least two on each one of them in case one of them didn't go, then the dynamite would take it because if one wouldn't go, it would ruin the whole thing because it has to go in the right timing; otherwise, it could wreck the whole shot and not maybe do the job it's supposed to do. Same way when you're in -- in a tunnel in a mine, you have -- you have cuts on the -- on up like brings it out, and then another one in there, and then what they call a lifter on the bottom, and then what they call a top hole on the top that brings it down. That's when you're taking a tunnel forward, you see. RACHEL MASON: Well, I was wondering if you had other jobs like that where you had to do this? VAL ANDERSON: No, the closest to it was when I worked with my dad up there after I got out of the Army in 1940 -- '46. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you said you retired in 1985?
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: From longshoring?
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So there was still enough work here after the earthquake? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. Well, we, of course, when the pipeline came through here, we were -- God, I'd have to argue for two weeks at a time to get a day off because I was a crane operator, and if I -- if I -- if I took a day off, it might cut a gang out to work, you know. Because we only had so many operators. So I'd call in in the morning, and finally after awhile, the guy said, by golly, we're not too busy today, I think you could have a day off if you want, and I'd take it, you know. Otherwise we were working seven 12s. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you said you did dispatching. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. And then towards the last, you see, that was an elected job in the union. And I got to where I was the one that was assigning the crews every morning.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Down at the union hall. VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. I thought we did pretty good on -- of course, maybe you wouldn't want to be in this, but they told us in that when we had all that stuff coming through for the pipeline that we had a 37 percent higher productivity here in this port than they did on the coast. I was always kind of proud of that. I always figured I helped contribute to that. RACHEL MASON: That's great. VAL ANDERSON: Because I always had the idea if the quicker you got a ship out of here, the quicker -- the better the chance the next one was coming back. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Can you generally tell us a little about how Seward has changed over the years?
VAL ANDERSON: Huh? RACHEL MASON: Since you first got to Seward, have you seen some changes in this community? VAL ANDERSON: Oh, well, of course. The buildings and everything like that, it's hard to -- to -- of course, now the waterfront is quite insignificant; and at one time, Good Lord, we had about -- we had probably between the dock and the water, well, shipside that we called it, we probably had in two ships, we probably had about 300 men working here. See, now it's very minor, that little bit that comes in here, the handling cargo, or baggage for the cruise ships and things like that, and tie ups and cast offs is about all that it amounts to now, you know. I think I retired about the best right time. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Is there anything -- JEAN ANDERSON: That's the thing about the earthquake, though, I want to tell you that our neighbor Bernie, he was the one I said was a policemen, and when they had that deal over at the bank, you know, and anyway, he was out in the alley taking pictures. And -- VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. He -- they had a little pictures over at the library. You've no doubt seen them. JEAN ANDERSON: -- come up from Juneau, and I said, by golly, we -- you and I will go down to the restaurant there across from the new Seward Hotel and have lunch, and I was telling her about Bernie standing out here in the alley taking pictures of the fire in the bay. And I says, they got a picture of it in the library about that. So we went in there and Mrs. Decker was the librarian, she said we've got the picture -- the colors in it had started to fade a little bit, so they put it downstairs. And so we went down the steps, and she got it out, it was about yea big, you know. And just as we were starting up those stairs, they used to start -- I don't know if they still do it or not, they started the -- the pictures about the earthquake, and you never saw anybody get up those stairs as fast as I did. VAL ANDERSON: She didn't want to hear it over again. We had enough of it. RACHEL MASON: Well, just to wrap it up, do you have any other things that you'd like to make sure you tell? VAL ANDERSON: I don't know really what it would be. Probably afterwards think of something I should have said, but I don't at the time. RACHEL MASON: Well, we'll be glad to -- to add more later.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: I was wondering about that picture above your head, is that you as a boy?
VAL ANDERSON: Yes, it is. That's my --
RACHEL MASON: This one? VAL ANDERSON: -- my sister's husband lives up in Eagle River, Paul Cordasci made that from a little photograph of me holding a pet goose. We had -- we had chickens and ducks and geese and goats and horses down there, and that was a pet goose of mine that I was taking -- somebody took that picture and he had had just a little photograph and he -- that's a -- a pencil drawing. RACHEL MASON: I've never seen such a --
VAL ANDERSON: He's quite a -- artistic. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's a very nice picture. VAL ANDERSON: I can remember when that picture was taken.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: About how old were you?
VAL ANDERSON: Oh, probably about 8, I think. 7 or 8. KAREN BREWSTER: That's great.
VAL ANDERSON: Something like that.
RACHEL MASON: It's a great picture, a nice bowl haircut.
VAL ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That's great. Well, thank you very much for your time. Both of you. Thank you.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
Louis "Packy" Dick - Tape #ORAL HISTORY 2010-05-08
Packy Dick was interviewed on August 5, 2010 by Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster and Shannon Kovac in his home in Seward, Alaska. Packy grew up in Seward where his father worked for the military during World War II. Packy has done all kinds of work in his life, from longshoring, to logging, to operating heavy equipment and building docks. He retired in 1991. In this interview, Packy talks about how he got his nickname, growing up in Seward, the effect of the military and how Seward has changed, the 1964 Earthquake, building the Lost Lake Trail, and hunting and changes in the wildlife population. He talks about snowmachining in the Exit Glacier area, the snowmachine tour operation on Exit Glacier, his snowmachine getting buried by heavy snow on the glacier, and building of the road and bridge to the glacier.
Click to section:
Getting the nickname "Packy"
Personal and family background and coming to Seward, Alaska
Growing up in Seward
Lose of his snowmachine with the tour operation on Harding Ice Field
Transporting his snowmachine by airplane up to the ice field
Snowmachining on the ice field
The friends he snowmachined with
Building the Lost Lake Trail
Towing skiers up hills behind the snowmachine
Ptarmigan and duck hunting
Going up the Resurrection River valley by Jeep
Moose, bear and goat hunting
Changes in animal populations
Popularization of the Lost Lake Trail
Trail use regulations
Snowmachining to Cooper Landing via Lost Lake Trail and Kenai Lake
Effects of the establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park
Snowmachining in the Resurrection River valley
Buying his first snowmachine
Changes in Seward
Exit Glacier Road
Changes in Exit Glacier
Local reaction to construction of Exit Glacier Road
Helping to build the final bridge across Resurrection River to Exit Glacier
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. I'm Karen Brewster, and today is August 5th, 2010, here in Seward, Alaska, with Louis "Packy" Dick, at his home. I'm also joined by Shannon Kovac and Rachel Mason for the National Park Service traditional use of Exit Glacier project. So do you mind if I call you Packy? PACKY DICK: No. That's my name. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Well, why don't we start with how did you get that name? PACKY DICK: It was given to me by my -- my sister. My mom called me a pack rat because I carried everything when I was little; and when I got older, why, the sister couldn't say it, so it sounded like Packy, so I ended up being Packy. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh huh. And everybody just kept calling you that. PACKY DICK: Yeah, all through high school, and even still today. RACHEL MASON: I can imagine that, seeing the evidence of pack rat. A little evidence. PACKY DICK: Can you run that thing outside?
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So, just to start us, before we start talking about Exit Glacier, I just want to ask you a little bit about yourself. When and where you were born? PACKY DICK: Oh. I was born in Portland, Oregon. I come up here on a -- I think it was the Yukon -- no, the Alaskan for a two week visit, to visit my dad. He was working up here during the war, been here ever since. KAREN BREWSTER: And what was your dad doing? PACKY DICK: Oh, he was working the marine ways, when they had all those power scows [?] and stuff running down the -- during the war, feeding the troops out on the Chain. Well, they were repairing them. Yeah, keeping them running, that's where he worked. He was at the Bonneville Dam, he was drilling, and I think he only made 3 bucks a day or something, and he come up here and they were giving him $3.15 cents an hour and room and board. Yeah. Yeah, he -- come on up. KAREN BREWSTER: Was that for the military he worked or was -- PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah, the 420 Area was here, the military was in Seward. KAREN BREWSTER: And he was based here in Seward? PACKY DICK: Yeah. As an employee. I mean, he was just a civilian when he got this job, working at the marine ways. KAREN BREWSTER: And so how old were you when you came up here? PACKY DICK: I don't know. Two and a half, three years old.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So he brought the whole family? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Me and my sister came up, and my mom. And then my brother was born here.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum.
PACKY DICK: So... KAREN BREWSTER: So what was it like growing up in Seward? PACKY DICK: Good. It was an Army town. A lot of people in town, a lot of them military, you know. And we lived right down in the military area. And we'd just go over to there, and I would, jump one of the trucks, and they'd run me all over, you know, ride with them all day long. Yeah, it was a -- it was a good go. Then all of a sudden one day they just brought troop ships in and everybody left. KAREN BREWSTER: Because the war ended? PACKY DICK: Yeah. I think that's what it was. It was all about. They just packed up and left and all the military stuff was here, all the barrackses, the Quonset hut, Fort Raymond, you know, was just loaded up and it was gone. And town kind of quieted down, but then it was a main shipping hub. All the freighters come in, the railroad's shipping everything to Fairbanks north, you know, and a lot of longshoremen. A lot of longshoremen. A hundred guys a ship, you know. It was -- it was good times. It was good. Then the earthquake come along and put a stop to all that. Docks were all gone, and the shippers found better ways of doing stuff than coming through here, you know, and it just went downhill from there. Well, not downhill, but I mean slowed down. RACHEL MASON: Were you here when the earthquake happened?
PACKY DICK: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. RACHEL MASON: What -- what were you doing when it happened? PACKY DICK: Well, have you been in town, you seen that building out there at the head of the bay, that old radio station?
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: I was out there
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
PACKY DICK: -- visiting some friends.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. PACKY DICK: Joe Lemas. I was sitting in his kitchen and we were talking, and the house started to go, stove took off from the wall, and we got hot towels, and put the stove back, put the chimney up, then the front window fell out of it, and we said, we've got to get out of here. And that's when we -- it was a good ride into town. The bridges would raise up, and the road would go down. And I had an old '52 Chevy pickup, stuck me down in the ditch, the ditch came up, went back on, the bridge is lined up, and that's how I got to town. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Come by the airport and all the ground, just like an ocean, you know. And all the hangars fell down, and the ground would open up, slam together, and the mud would -- the old '52 just kept running. KAREN BREWSTER: So all that was -- the ground was still moving and shaking as you were driving? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Really bad. It really got going. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. You think of an earthquake, like it just shakes and then it stops. PACKY DICK: Oh, no, just waves. The mud flats were just like the ocean, just waves. Yeah. And I looked -- I lived over on Seventh Avenue, right in front of Standard Oil, and it blew up. And the way it looked from across the bay, it didn't stop until it was Fourth Avenue in there, and that's where the wife and kids were. Drove down there and it was just a hot fire. They were gone. Yeah. Run in the house and you could -- the spaghetti sauce was all over the floor, and you could see the little tracks where the guys run out the back door and took off. And yeah. It was quite a deal. KAREN BREWSTER: So did you lose that house? Did it -- PACKY DICK: No. Didn't even melt the snow in the front yard. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: Yeah. And Amanda Peterson lived next door, and didn't even melt the snow there either. Because when it blew up, it all run down in the bay, all the oil did. And the whole bay was burning. Oh, it was a mess. KAREN BREWSTER: Now, how did you find your wife and kids? PACKY DICK: Oh, they went -- how did that happen. How did I find them back? They were over at -- oh, they went in with Richard Mattson, a good friend of mine. Phyllis, my first wife, was babysitting and they got in with him. I'm up on top, you know them houses up on top of the lagoon, you see all them fancy houses? Well, that was just rock. There was nobody living there. I was up there watching. And here that Mattson comes down across Fourth -- Third Avenue, drives across the lagoon, and the wave and the junk's coming right on him, and he just drives across, nonchalant, going out of town with the kids. KAREN BREWSTER: And where did they end up? PACKY DICK: Oh, at Clearview. That's where he had a house out there and they went out there. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That was high enough ground? PACKY DICK: Uh hum. They were high enough ground. Everything was fine. KAREN BREWSTER: Did you see the tsunami come in? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, three or four times. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: Radio tower sit there, as the ground's working, you know, and you've got the guy wires, and it would lean, lean. Finally, it just went around and down it went. But here comes the tsunami. And there was -- let's see, who was in that truck. Oh. Jimmy Hoven (phonetic) and -- oh, let's see, who was out there. Wynn Corbin (phonetic). I forget who -- oh, and Mike Osmonovich, they were all in this truck. And the wave got them. And Mike and Jimmy went out the bay, went underneath the railroad tracks, went out the bay, and got out at the head of the bay and the water went out. And Jimmy ran all the way back, but Mike went over off into the deep part of it. And Corbin, he got washed up against the beach there in the lagoon. Oh, yeah, it was quite a night of adventure. KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like it. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. And it just rocked and rolled there for two or three days. And it started settling down. KAREN BREWSTER: So did -- when did you move back into your house down on Seventh? PACKY DICK: Oh, that was -- they wouldn't -- oh, probably a couple weeks later. I stayed out there at Ray Tressler's, and my wife and kids, they were over at the Jones's, Reison (phonetic). They took care of them, you know, while everybody was running around cleaning roads and trying to get people fed, and you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Everybody took care of everybody else? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Military moved in, and National Guard, and they fed them up at the school. And everything went good. Yeah. Everything was -- I remember old Lloyd Hammond, he was up there at the old Jessie Lee Home telling everybody, the water's not going to come up here. Everything's cool, just stay right here. And if it does, just run right up this road and go to that mountain. That's when the whole front of the mountain fell off, right after he got through telling these people, that's the safe place to go up at Jab Creek. Yeah. And it did. The point fell off and a big clatter of rock and dust. KAREN BREWSTER: Were there people up there?
PACKY DICK: No, no, no. KAREN BREWSTER: They hadn't taken his advice? PACKY DICK: No, no. He was just trying to assure them, this was a safe way to go. It wasn't. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So what kind of work have you done in your life? PACKY DICK: Oh, let's see. What did I first start -- started doing? Oh, it was longshoring when I was going to high school. My dad was a bookman and he could get me on the docks, so I'd longshoring and go to school, and longshore at night. And quit longshoring. What did I do? Oh, I went logging. Went to work for Kenai Lumber Company. No, it wasn't Kenai. That was the second place. It was Mattson's up Fourth of July Creek, he had a little mill up there and I went to work for him, and then he went broke, and so then I went to Kenai, and worked there for, I don't know, six, seven years. Then the earthquake come along. Then I went 302, Operating Engineer. And that's where I stayed until I retired. KAREN BREWSTER: And that's equipment -- heavy equipment operating? PACKY DICK: Uh hum. Built docks all over Alaska. We built the dock in Seward. The Seward fishery dock and the small boat harbor docks, and you know. KAREN BREWSTER: You mean like ferry docks down in Southeast, things like that? PACKY DICK: No, we didn't -- they went down to Klawock. No, I didn't go down there. No, I just mostly up here. Worked in the Inlet, running derrick crane. And mechanic. Had a good time. I mean, it was a good -- it was a good life.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Finally decided to quit when it wasn't fun no more. KAREN BREWSTER: And when was that? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, I don't know. I must have had --
MRS. DICK: '91.
KAREN BREWSTER: '91? PACKY DICK: '91, finally retired. Then it's just been play. I work for her [points to his wife]. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's good if it's play. PACKY DICK: Uh hum. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So why don't you tell us a little bit about your experiences up in the Exit Glacier. We know you were a snow machiner. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We went everyplace. KAREN BREWSTER: So we've heard this story about something about your snow machine up on the ice field. Is that -- what's that all about? PACKY DICK: Well -- They flew it in. They were going to have a -- they put a cabin in up there or something, and then they were going to take people out, you know, tourists. Sounded like a good idea, so I donated my wife's snow machine. And Joe flew it up there and we went up and rode quite a few times. Me and Bill Rickard, he was a snow machine dealer and good friend, and we rode there, I don't know, quite a few times. And then the snow got it and then the snow -- it started snowing so hard that it buried the machine, buried the tent, and then Joe said he couldn't find nothing, so that was the end of it, until you guys finally -- until it finally thawed out, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That was Joe Stanton, right? PACKY DICK: Uh hum. And then those snow machines showed up. So its probably still up there, or someplace. KAREN BREWSTER: Someplace, huh.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That's pretty amazing that it could snow that much in one season to cover it. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. My kid was up there this year. I guess a bunch of snow machiners took up. You know, with these new machines, they don't -- they're not like ours. I still got one of ours out here, a little slick track thing. I don't know how we went as many places as they do, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So was it an Elan or something? PACKY DICK: Yeah, I had an Elan with a 35 T and T in it. Put a long track, an alpine track, underneath it, and it was just light as a feather and could go anyplace. But now these guys got horsepower, big tracks, ride much better. RACHEL MASON: Can you show us where your -- approximately where you were, what -- PACKY DICK: Well, you know, wherever the cabin was at. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know where that cabin might have been up there? PACKY DICK: No, I haven't got a clue. This where it dumped out? It must have been up in here someplace. I don't know where it was. RACHEL MASON: You can mark it there. PACKY DICK: I haven't got a clue where it was. Joe just landed up there, and there was -- wherever that stuff is that you guys found, you know, when the snow melted. Yeah, that's where it was at. KAREN BREWSTER: That's where it was. Do you know where it was, Shannon? PACKY DICK: Is that right in there? Here's -- SHANNON KOVAC: I think it's pretty close to the -- to the boundary line.
PACKY DICK: Oh, was it? SHANNON KOVAC: It is now. It's been moving.
PACKY DICK: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: So the cabin and stuff have moved?
PACKY DICK: Oh. SHANNON KOVAC: Yeah. It's over in here, I think.
RACHEL MASON: Is it because of melting of the glacier? Or --
KAREN BREWSTER: Just the glacier -- the glacier moves. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, it took off and moved, huh? KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. So where did you think it was, Shannon? SHANNON KOVAC: I think it's up here, right in here somewhere. PACKY DICK: I haven't got a clue where it was. SHANNON KOVAC: If you want to know, I can get you a map. If you're interested. KAREN BREWSTER: If you want to go up and look? PACKY DICK: No, I won't go up and look. I'd like to have a picture, though, of that. Of what's left. SHANNON KOVAC: I can do that. RACHEL MASON: When was that, about? Do you know what year it was? PACKY DICK: No, I don't remember. KAREN BREWSTER: Was that in, like, the '70s, when people were first using machines? PACKY DICK: Probably. Yeah. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Remember, what kind of -- PACKY DICK: Because I had them little twelve threes and stuff, you know. We didn't have -- yeah, we had them little old twelve threes. They wouldn't -- no big machines back then. We had a 15 horse. Olympic. KAREN BREWSTER: So what kind of machine was it that was lost?
PACKY DICK: Ski Doo.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was a Ski Doo?
PACKY DICK: Uh hum. KAREN BREWSTER: Before Tundras?
PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Before Tundras. Tundra was an elaborate Ski Doo. You know. They were nice. Air cooled. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So how come you flew it up instead of driving it up? PACKY DICK: Well, that thing wouldn't -- we'd have had to carry it up there. You know. Because heck, the tracks are smooth, there's very little ribbing on them. You know, these guys got cleats now. We didn't have nothing on them. We just went. Oh, and it was easier just to throw it in the airplane, fly it up there and drag it out and fire it up and go play. You know. KAREN BREWSTER: What kind of plane did Joe use to get it up there? PACKY DICK: I think he had a 180 on floats. KAREN BREWSTER: It was on floats -- how do you land on floats on a -- on snow? PACKY DICK: On snow. Set it down. It just slides. KAREN BREWSTER: Really? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. That's what I was saying, when we load it in the boat harbor, it was low because it was setting down in the water. And when you land on the snow, it's high, because its floats are that thick --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
PACKY DICK: -- and then the legs. Yeah. It's up there. KAREN BREWSTER: So how did you get the snow machine out? PACKY DICK: Enough guys. Yeah, enough guys can get it out. Yeah. That worked good. RACHEL MASON: The trick would be to take off again from the snow. PACKY DICK: Oh, no. No problem.
RACHEL MASON: It's not so hard? PACKY DICK: No. Just slides and away it goes, and slides on it good, it runs on -- you know, really good.
RACHEL MASON: Hmm. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I think the weight of a snow machine in a small plane like that would be tricky. PACKY DICK: Nah. No. There ain't no weight. 300 pounds, a couple of guys. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I guess, yeah, those are lighter machines than nowadays. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. These things they got now, why, yeah, it would have been interesting. Getting it in the plane even.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. PACKY DICK: But back then, why, they didn't weigh nothing, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember how far around you went snow machining around? PACKY DICK: No. No. We'd just run every -- every direction we wanted to go. I didn't have any -- KAREN BREWSTER: Did you go up on the peaks or you stayed just in -- PACKY DICK: We just stayed down around the snow. It run all over. But there was -- yeah. It just -- we didn't -- wherever it was smooth, because it was so rough, ice and stuff, it was so rough, and cracks in the snow --
KAREN BREWSTER: The crevasses and -- PACKY DICK: -- but then you get back where the snow was, then it was good going. KAREN BREWSTER: And could you snow machine up there all year, or what -- PACKY DICK: Oh, I imagine they could, but --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- time of year were you up there? PACKY DICK: Gee, I don't remember what time of the year I was up there. Must have been in summertime because it was pretty nice weather.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: Yeah. It didn't get dark, you know. But in the wintertime when we were working and you couldn't get up there anyhow because it was snowing so hard and the wind -- the weather is gone.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. PACKY DICK: And a lot of times we couldn't go because it would be nice down here, but it wouldn't be fit to be up there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: Yeah, I think they took quite a few people up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Were you ever up there when there were just kind of tourists around up there? PACKY DICK: Huh um. No. No. I was working. Stanton. RACHEL MASON: Was there a group of guys you'd go with? PACKY DICK: What, snow machining?
RACHEL MASON: Snow machining? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Always -- who would always go with us. Well, Bill Rickard, the guy who had the snow machine business, didn't take much to get him fired up. You know, he'd go. Who else? Old John Pete and --
MRS. DICK: Lentz.
PACKY DICK: Who?
MRS. DICK: Lentz. PACKY DICK: Oh, Bob -- yeah. Bill -- Bob Lentz. Who else. Don Lynch. The Peeds. Yeah, we'd -- just every -- Mark Moore. He was the outlaw. He had a Scorpion, everybody else had Ski Doos. KAREN BREWSTER: What, Scorpion is another brand? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. Brand X.
KAREN BREWSTER: I've never heard of it. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. They were a pretty good machine, but they -- you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Popular in the '70s or something? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. We had a pretty good -- and it didn't take nothing. I mean, pretty quick everybody in town had a snow machine. Everybody was going to Lost Lake once they got that trail open, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So tell me about that, making that trail to Lost Lake. PACKY DICK: Well, that was -- Stanton come along with a brilliant plan because he flies, see, oh, yeah, you can ge t up to the lake, all you've got to do is do this and do this. Whew. We snow machined -- I mean, snowshoe'ed back and forth, building trails, go a little ways, build a trail, and then it would snow, then you do, cut brush. You know. Finally one day Joe went with us and we went up there, and we got up on top and we didn't know where to go, he said, just head on -- go over the top of the hill. So away we went and the race was on to see who could get on the lake first. Oh. Ray Anderson was with us, and he had a Polaris. That was another brand X. Yeah, actually, he was the first guy to hit the lake, you know, with a -- with a snow machine. And then once the people at night would see our lights up there running around from Seward, when we were going up and down the down trail, why, then, everybody started. KAREN BREWSTER: So you first broke trail with snowshoes? PACKY DICK: Yeah. You had to. Walk ahead and walk back and then run the machine up. Because these machines -- these machines they got now, they just fly right up there. But the ones we had, why, sheesh. Carried them. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, how did you know where to go, to decide where the trail was going to go? PACKY DICK: Well, we knew which direction we was going, and wherever we'd find a gully or something, we couldn't go there, we would go there, and then we'd go through the trees, you know, and just kept nitpicking until, hey, there it is. KAREN BREWSTER: Did you have to cut trees down? PACKY DICK: No. No. Just some limbs, you know, because the snow would bend them down, and -- no, we didn't have to cut no trees. All we did was knock down a bunch of limbs, and then the snow would land on our trail, you know, instead of making them dips. Yeah. And pretty quick, then the next thing you had to do, you had to go out and come in from the other end, then you had to go over the top, go down to the lake, and then see who could climb the highest mountain, and oh, it was -- yeah. It was quite a -- quite an adventure, you know. Alyeska come along. Brought some skiers in. I had a big Alpine. And they wanted to get towed up the mountain so they could think about skiing, you know. Them guys went down off the face of that mountain with them skis, why, there ain't no way in the world. Yeah, they thought it was really great, but then when they brought people in to go skiing, the weather changed on them. It was blowing and snowing and fogged over, and it wasn't -- you know, it wasn't a thing you could count on. KAREN BREWSTER: So what -- where's Lost Lake? PACKY DICK: What are we doing. That's -- that's Bear Lake. KAREN BREWSTER: There's Lost Lake. PACKY DICK: There's Lost Lake. It would be over on this side up here. KAREN BREWSTER: This is where they would have skied down? PACKY DICK: Yeah. The high ridges, you know. Them guys, I tell you. I thought I could go anyplace with that snow machine them guys could go with that skis. Ha. No. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, skiing, you had to go -- it's easier going down. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, but I'd tow them up to the top with my Alpine, see, and then they would get off and ski down. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you would have to go back around. PACKY DICK: I'd go around, get them, and take them back up there. Man, they take off over that cliff, I thought the guy -- I don't -- I thought he didn't know where he was going. He's standing on a little point down there about a hundred feet out. Yeah, it's good, come on. And he just jumped off and away he went. Sheesh. Yeah, a lot of good ptarmigan hunting up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Where would that be? PACKY DICK: Oh, all along the lake, all along on this side, and all up and down in here. Yeah. It's all good bird hunting. RACHEL MASON: What kind of hunting did you do in your early days here?
PACKY DICK: Huh? RACHEL MASON: What kind of hunting did you do?
PACKY DICK: Oh, everything. Moose, bear, goats, it didn't matter. We'd just go hunting. Duck hunting. KAREN BREWSTER: Where would you -- like, where would you go duck hunting?
PACKY DICK: Out on the flats, in town, at the head of the bay. KAREN BREWSTER: Out here on all these mud flats?
PACKY DICK: Yeah. See this right here? KAREN BREWSTER: Now, on that line?
PACKY DICK: That mud flat. This is mud flats.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. PACKY DICK: And this is a drop off. That water was, I betcha, was 40, 50, 60 feet below that mud flat when the tide went out --
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. PACKY DICK: -- the earthquake, and it turned around and brought the docks back, and it hit that and a big -- oh, it was quite an explosion. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Did you ever go hunting up the Resurrection River valley up here? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's good moose hunting. Yeah. I've been in on a couple of deals where they took moose up there. That's where I found out my Jeep wouldn't float. KAREN BREWSTER: Tell us about that. PACKY DICK: Well, I tried to take it up there, naturally, like a guy would, and got prepared and put a tarp over the front, see, so that the water would go. Well, that worked really good until one wheel hit a rock and grabbed the tarp, took the tarp off. Yeah, well, then, there you are. KAREN BREWSTER: Water in the engine. PACKY DICK: Yeah. So I had a winch on the back behind the seat so I could tow either way, take the chain off two pipe wrenches, and I winch that thing up on the bank. And then the battery jumped out, hit the fan, so it was no power in it. Took the spark plugs out and started spinning this thing until the battery almost went, then I put one plug in trying to make it hit on one plug. Well, it didn't work. Walked all the way to town, got another battery, come back out there, put this new battery in, and it didn't make contact, so I shorted out with a pair of pliers, blew it, end out of the battery. Well, then I started it on two cylinders, but it wouldn't start on four cylinders. Ever tried a screw a spark plug in to a running engine? KAREN BREWSTER: No. PACKY DICK: Yeah, put it on a stick, a wire, you hold it down -- bang, bang, bang -- and you hook around, find the plug and put it back in there. I got it running. And we come on home. KAREN BREWSTER: So where -- do you know, you were trying to cross the river? PACKY DICK: Yeah, it was a -- up past Blackstone, or on the way to Blackstone. KAREN BREWSTER: Where's Blackstone? This is Paradise. Is that -- PACKY DICK: No, that's the wrong direction. Where's Resurrection? KAREN BREWSTER: This is the Resurrection River. Here's town.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That's Paradise, and then the next is Exit. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Well, it would be up where Blackstone was. There was a big point out here, and the water was really deep, but we was cross -- there was no roads, see. And we was crossing this thing, and I got way up there, and that's where I lost it in the water. So we made better preparations next time. KAREN BREWSTER: So what did you do next time? PACKY DICK: Heck, we were driving in the water, and it was clean up on the windshield, the Jeep's down underneath and put a snorkel on it, put the canvas on it, and took it easy, and we'd float backwards and we'd go forward and it'd float again, and finally, we'd make it to the other side. Yeah, when you're young, you're bulletproof. There's no problem, you're not going to -- nothing's going to happen, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So all that was back before the road was there? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, long before that. I had a '47 Willy, that's what I was using. KAREN BREWSTER: That's a Jeep?
PACKY DICK: Uh hum. KAREN BREWSTER: So what were you doing, you would try and go hunting up there or were you just doing this for fun? PACKY DICK: No, we would just see how far up the canyon we could go. You know. And we were looking for moose, but we'd just see how far we could go. KAREN BREWSTER: So did you get as far as the glacier? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. When going up the side, there's a mine or something up here on this side, we went past the glacier and on up to that old mine up there. And, of course, then it's getting late, and -- how does that work now. I forget. At night -- at night the river goes down; in the daytime, it comes up. Or in the daytime it goes down and the nighttime it comes up. Because it thaws in the daytime, and then at nighttime the water comes --
KAREN BREWSTER: Drops. Yeah. PACKY DICK: Yeah. So you had to get out of there before, or unless you're gonna stay overnight. KAREN BREWSTER: And this would be in, like, fall-time you were doing that or summer? PACKY DICK: Uh hum. Yeah. Just any time you had the urge, let's go. Get in. Take the Jeep, let's go up there, maybe we'll get a black bear. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Did you ever get any moose around the area of the glacier or -- KAREN BREWSTER: You -- you said you went moose hunting. Do you remember where you might have gotten moose? PACKY DICK: No. No. We've shot moose up there, but I don't remember what swamp it was, or what part it was. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. What about bear? You said you've been bear hunting? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. We got black bear. Box Canyon was a good place to go up in, where Seavey is. Box Canyon. Where's Box Canyon on this thing? KAREN BREWSTER: It's where Seaveys are? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Where's Box Canyon? That was a good place to get -- maybe that's Box Canyon. It just runs in and stops and the water runs out. KAREN BREWSTER: Here, it's one of these. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah, that was a good place to get bear.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. PACKY DICK: At Box Canyon. Or Lost Lake or -- KAREN BREWSTER: And this is black bear?
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: What about goats? PACKY DICK: We went up on that mountain right behind -- what do they call that one, behind the Pit there? This one, I guess it is. KAREN BREWSTER: Behind the Pit Bar? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. That would be it. That one right there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. PACKY DICK: That -- that was a good place. I've gone up there quite a few times and got goat. Bill Burns, he was my goat hunter. Del Branson, he was another goat hunter. The only thing wrong with going hunting with Del was he was six four, with strides that long, you know. RACHEL MASON: And sheep hunting, did you ever do that? PACKY DICK: No, I didn't go in for sheep. That was too much work. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, goat sounds like a lot of work. PACKY DICK: Well, different, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: How is it different? PACKY DICK: Well, I don't know. Probably don't have to go as high. I don't know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I don't know. PACKY DICK: No, I never did get in on them sheep hunts. I just never did do that. RACHEL MASON: Over the years that you've been hunting, have you noticed any changes in the populations of the animals? Are they -- are there fewer than there used to be of anything? PACKY DICK: No.
KAREN BREWSTER: Or are they in different places.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah, or in different -- PACKY DICK: Well, naturally, people would run them out, you know. We used to have goat coming right off of Lost Lake, come down and go to Bear Lake, up through there. They'd come across the road. When I was working there for Kenai Lumber, why, the -- you'd see the tracks in the road. And then Irv Tressler, he lived right there, and then he'd say, yeah, a couple of goats come by here the other night, you know, making their way through. But now there's so much population and stuff that they, you know, are going to find something else. That'll fix that. RACHEL MASON: That's right. PACKY DICK: Don't let her drive.
RACHEL MASON: Sorry. yeah, really. SHANNON KOVAC: She is driving. KAREN BREWSTER: (Indiscernible.) Oh, I was thinking trapping, did you ever do any trapping? PACKY DICK: No. No. My son in law, he was a trapper. Stanley Lemas, they were the trappers. I didn't -- that took too much effort, too much time. You know. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know where he went trapping? PACKY DICK: Oh, I don't know, every creek around, why, him and Kimo Knighten, they would -- they'd be trapping on it. I can guarantee you that. KAREN BREWSTER: And they were successful? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Young kids, heck, yeah. They were very successful. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: What were they trapping? I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you -- PACKY DICK: Oh, I don't know. Anything that they could get in a trap, I imagine. I don't -- I don't know what they -- what they were trapping. Mink and stuff, I imagine. MRS. DICK: Stanley got mink.
KAREN BREWSTER: Mink?
PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah, mink. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's pretty good.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So once you made that trail to Lost Lake, how did it become now this big, popular trail? PACKY DICK: Well, I don't know. Over the years, people just -- well, when they went in there at -- at Mile 18, that was an easier trail to get right to the lake. You didn't have to start here and go all the way through the woods and to get to the lake.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: And boy, Kenai and Anchorage and all them, they just started showing up by the -- good place to go because the snow would be gone down here, and there'd be a lot of snow up there and you could still go snow machining, and the snow would land up there first before it really got down. And then our friends come along and says, you can't go, you've got to stay -- from this day to this day, the trail is closed. But there's a lot of snow on it. Well, it don't matter. From this day to this day. KAREN BREWSTER: So the Forest Service rules now about when you can access it? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Oh, yeah, they'd like to kick us out of everything. They don't want you -- they don't want you out there with a snow machine. Look at what they're doing at Crescent Lake. They are shutting down. They're shutting Crescent down, too. You can't go in there, that's hikers, that's this, that's that. You can't go on this, you can't go there. Yeah. Don't even want you on Kenai Lake with a snow machine. KAREN BREWSTER: Does Kenai Lake freeze? So you can get --
PACKY DICK: Oh, sure.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's safe enough? PACKY DICK: Heck, we've left right here in Seward and go up Lost Lake and go out the other end and go down to Sunrise and have lunch, and then -- and then big race back, you know, with a snow machine. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, how is that on the map? Where is Sun -- so here's Lost -- you'd go up to Lost Lake, and where did you go from there? PACKY DICK: Well, go out this way, down to the trail, and then take off and go down here to Cooper Landing. It don't take long, either. Because this is where that trail come in. You know. Through the back door.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: And so we'd start here, go off across here, and then go down here, and then go on around, and go down to Cooper Landing and Sunrise and mess around, and then turn around and roar back. KAREN BREWSTER: I can imagine you must have been a fast snow machiner. PACKY DICK: Oh, they -- those guys, they had to -- mine didn't go. Mine would probably do 70 miles an hour. Heck, they'd go faster in reverse than I could go forward. But I didn't run out of gas. RACHEL MASON: Well, when the Park was established, did that interfere with your snow machining --
PACKY DICK: Oh, yes.
RACHEL MASON: -- mobility? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. They just shut you down. No, you can't go. We don't want you in there. Look at what you're doing to the trail. Oh you're doing this. And then the skiers come along. Oh, this here, and you're -- you're noisy and you're ruining the pristine view, and with your tracks, and that was really nice, though, when we got in there to the pass, American Creek. That big blizzard caught all them skiers. Who did they call on? Snow machiners. Come get us. Tow us out. We've got to get out of here. Well, sure. We can run on the trail then. RACHEL MASON: When did that happen? PACKY DICK: Oh, '80s, I guess. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So before the Park came in, did you used to snow machine up this valley towards the glacier? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we snow machined all over there. That was a lot of fun running that side. Then we even did it out back here, go down to the bottom and run all of that, and then they said we couldn't do that. That's reserved for the skiers. Get out of here, you snow machiners, you're noisy and you're -- you know. So then I think what they figured out was that if they turned it over to the skiers, well, then, they'd ban the snow machiners instead of just telling the snow machiners you can't, you know. And then they let oh that's ski area -- that's ski area. KAREN BREWSTER: So when you snow machine up the Resurrection River, which side of the river were you on? And did you go back and forth? PACKY DICK: We always went on the right side up. KAREN BREWSTER: It's the other side? Along the bluff here? PACKY DICK: Yeah -- no, on the -- like going up the river, it would be on the right hand side, where all the --
RACHEL MASON: The east side.
PACKY DICK: -- where the road is now. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, where the road is now. PACKY DICK: Yeah, we'd travel up that side. But then we didn't have to cross it up here. You'd get past there and then you'd go up a little ways and it would be froze over then, the water would. KAREN BREWSTER: Like past where the current bridge is? PACKY DICK: Blackstone. Yeah. Yeah. Past where the current bridge is, and then you could get across. Or maybe you could find it down here someplace that it was crushed down, you know, where you'd go across. KAREN BREWSTER: But getting across was always a -- PACKY DICK: Yeah. Once you run across, you broke it out, and there was water. But now there's no -- new snow machines, they just run on the water. They don't care.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: It seems like that was a really big problem getting the rising water on that run. PACKY DICK: Yeah. It was. You had to -- pretty cold. KAREN BREWSTER: It seems like you'd have to know what you're doing on a river like that
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- with all that open water. PACKY DICK: Yeah. With a snow machine. Yeah. A lot of them lost their snow machine. I mean, you know, they'd run in and get stuck and drowned out the machine, they'd just pull them out, build a fire, thaw them out, get them going, keep going, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: You make it sound like it's no big deal. PACKY DICK: Well, it wasn't. You had to do it. You had to do it; otherwise, you're going to walk home, or tow it home. And that -- that was almost an insult getting towed back. Didn't want to get towed back. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: But so up above where the current bridge is was easier crossing? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. It was easier crossing.
KAREN BREWSTER: You could -- PACKY DICK: Let's see who was in on that thing. I think Max Fackler (phonetic), and who else went with us that day. There was quite a herd of us. We could have made it all the way up to Upper Russian. KAREN BREWSTER: Really? PACKY DICK: The river was just right.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: Yeah. It was just right. And, of course, once you get past Blackstone, you don't have the glacier, you know, the water running in there, and the water kept getting less and, yeah, we could have made it all the way. We run out of fuel and time and effort, and so we'd turn around and come back. KAREN BREWSTER: So, do you remember how far up you got? PACKY DICK: I don't know. We was up there a long ways. KAREN BREWSTER: Because that's Upper Russian Lake. PACKY DICK: Yeah. We were -- we didn't have far to go and we'd have made it. KAREN BREWSTER: And there's a swampy area, it looks like, in here. PACKY DICK: Yeah. See, that's all froze over in the winter. That was good travelling. Yeah, we could have -- we -- we'd a made 'er, but just got late in the night, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember what time of year? PACKY DICK: Oh, I don't know. KAREN BREWSTER: Like was it springtime? PACKY DICK: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. Be in the dead of winter. Getting dark at 3 o'clock. We had lights, but still, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember what year? Or what time period that was? PACKY DICK: No. KAREN BREWSTER: Like it was the '70s? It was -- PACKY DICK: Oh, probably. KAREN BREWSTER: It was before the Park? PACKY DICK: Yeah, before the Park. Yeah. The Elans were out. 'Cause Max bought a brand new Elan to get in on this -- adventures, you know. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember when you -- what year you bought your first snow machine? PACKY DICK: Gee, what was that thing? It was an Elan. No, I bought a -- I bought my first Olympic, I bought it off of a guy in Moose Pass. Yeah. That was in the '70s. '70s. '68, '70. Yeah. '68. Yeah. '70, I think it was. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Did lots of people have snow machines? PACKY DICK: No. They were a thousand dollars. That was a lot of money. I mean, a lot of money. But I was construction, so I was moneyed up, so I had to have one. You know. KAREN BREWSTER: I understand. Yeah, what made you want to get one and go snow machining? PACKY DICK: Well, them guys over in -- over in North Road and Kenai and that, they were running around, Puchek brothers, they had snow machines. Yeah, that looked like a lot of fun. Let me try that. Well, I've got to have one of these, that's all there is to it. So I come over and bought one. RACHEL MASON: What was the kind of snow machine you called an outlaw machine, is it a Scorpion? PACKY DICK: Yeah, a black Scorpion thing.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah?
PACKY DICK: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Well, how -- how come it's an outlaw?
PACKY DICK: Well, everybody had Ski Doos.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Everybody had Ski Doos, and here comes Mark along with his Scorpion. Yeah. And then Ray Anderson started Snow Jets. And then who else? Well, then, he went to Polaris after Snow Jets. And then it -- it just started going. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And in some -- some towns, everybody has a Polaris.
PACKY DICK: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: You know. And some towns everybody has a Ski Doo.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Depends where you're from, I think.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Well, it helps for exchanging parts or something, I guess. PACKY DICK: Everybody has the same piece of junk. Yeah. Right. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That's true. Somehow I have a note about something with outlawing associated with your name.
PACKY DICK: Outlawing? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Does that mean anything to you?
PACKY DICK: No. KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe it was the outlaw snow machines?
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe that was it?
PACKY DICK: No. KAREN BREWSTER: I don't know what it means.
PACKY DICK: No. No. We never -- KAREN BREWSTER: I thought you might know. PACKY DICK: No, we never did nothing. We were always -- you know. KAREN BREWSTER: I thought it was some story that had to do with outlawing. I don't know.
PACKY DICK: Huh uh. RACHEL MASON: Well, can you say anything about just the changes you've seen in Seward since you first got here? PACKY DICK: Oh, man, yeah. Yeah. When the whole side of the town burned down, that's what started the rebuild. KAREN BREWSTER: When was that? PACKY DICK: Oh, gee whiz. In the fifty -- oh, '48, I think, or '49, someplace in there. KAREN BREWSTER: What year did you get here? PACKY DICK: '38. '36 maybe. Something like that. Because I remember looking out my -- my dad was longshoring, and he come home and all excited, he says, the whole town's burning up. What? So I -- my room was upstairs, and it faced the mountain, but I could look out and I could see the big, red glow. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: You know. Oh, man put the clothes on, run uptown and see what's going on, and the whole side of town, that was right up there from -- oh, where would it be. They are all -- McMullens (phonetic) building. You know, on the left hand side, from there on, there's a vacancy in there. Well, that whole side went all the way down. Yeah, it started, I guess, in the -- in the barber shop or something. They were heating pipes, or -- KAREN BREWSTER: Well, all the buildings were attached to each other or pretty close. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And just -- and that north wind was blowing. Yeah. And then -- RACHEL MASON: Were they trying to put it out? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, the military. That's another thing. When the military was putting it out, it was burning on this side of the street, and they were worried about it catching the arcade over here. So they throw dynamite in it to blow it out. What's wrong with this picture? And it blew the -- you know. KAREN BREWSTER: It did the opposite. PACKY DICK: But the Solly building stayed. Solly's, that's still there. I mean, that vacant lot was the arcade, and it took it out. And they were worried it was going to get the dock because the sparks and stuff were blowing. I was across the street standing in front of the bakery, I remember. They come along, and "you can't stand here, it's too hot," and the paint was blistering. I could see the bubbles in the paint. KAREN BREWSTER: And you were --
PACKY DICK: Quiet [to barking dog]. KAREN BREWSTER: You were a kid? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. '47, yeah, I was a kid. KAREN BREWSTER: Like what, you were, like, 10 or -- PACKY DICK: Yeah, 9, 10 years old. I had to go down and take a look and watch it burn.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Then another time I looked out the window and the USO was burning. That was the fire hall. It was up at the top where the fire hall is now, yeah, it caught fire. Took out City Hall and the fire hall. It was gone. Yeah, that was a -- they thought the whole rest of town was going to go then, but they contained it, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: That's good. Well, you said you -- when you came your dad was working for the military, and you guys lived at the military base? PACKY DICK: No. No, we lived -- well, when we first came, we lived down there in the arcade, in the basement of the arcade. And then we went over on Home Brew Alley, so to say. It was low rent over there, and we moved over there. And then we bought -- we got the house that we're down in front of the military. They shot our chimney off a couple of times, gunner's practice. So then they hooked onto it and they drug it down and put it down on Seventh Avenue and set it, to get us out of the military area. KAREN BREWSTER: And that military area, that's not here anymore, is it?
PACKY DICK: Oh. No. KAREN BREWSTER: Where would that be in town?
PACKY DICK: Where would that be? KAREN BREWSTER: Is that where the military --
PACKY DICK: Where the city shop is.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. Okay. PACKY DICK: The Post Office. Well, that was the 420 area.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. PACKY DICK: Yeah. And then up behind that where the -- that big apartment place is, well, that was all underground barrackses in there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: Yeah, all over. And down in the -- where the shop is down there in front where all the RVs are parked, well, that was all underground barracks. KAREN BREWSTER: On the waterfront there? PACKY DICK: Yeah. The motor pool and there was underground barrackses were there. And then out by the city dump, that was all military. And Forest Acres was all military. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I know there's that military rec camp now.
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And I thought that was where you were talking about. But that's not what you're talking about. PACKY DICK: No, no, no, that was just part of it. The gunnery range and all their training was out where the city dump was, and yeah, the whole town was military. Yeah. The whole town was military. KAREN BREWSTER: I thought it was a railroad town. You're talking before that. PACKY DICK: No. Yeah. Yeah. It was -- it was all military. They had curfews, and had to put up the blackouts, you know, couldn't go out after a certain time of night, but we'd sneak out and get caught and sent back home. And it was -- RACHEL MASON: Did the town mix with the soldiers very much? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think we had, I don't know, 15, 20 bars.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, wow. PACKY DICK: Yeah. It was a good time. Everybody was making money.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Because the military's here, you know. All those GIs.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Yeah. And a lot of them, the troop ships would come in. And they'd get on the train and they'd ship them up north to Anchorage and, you know, Greely, and all of them places. So there was a lot of -- a lot of activity in this town. A lot of money moving around. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Or if they came in for R and R from the Chain, would they come here? PACKY DICK: Probably. Yeah, because there was nothing out there on that Chain. It was a good place to be from. And all up and down the bay, there was gunning placements -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah? PACKY DICK: -- all up on Rugged Island, over in Day Harbor, you know, and this side. Kings Head. Well, you've got a park out there now.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Yeah, they made that --
SHANNON KOVAC: State park.
PACKY DICK: -- into a park. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: So it must be pretty different now than what it used to be in -- in Seward. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Different people, you know. I mean, different attitude of people. Yeah. It -- it's really changed. KAREN BREWSTER: Different in what way? PACKY DICK: Well, it's a government town, the way I look at it, now. You know, there's too few of people are paying all the taxes. Everybody else is on the free list, you know. But they bring employees. But that don't pay -- you know, that don't pay the taxes for the SeaLife Center, and on and on and on they go. They ain't carrying their weight, but they are putting a lot of money into the town. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. PACKY DICK: But the tax structure ain't right. You know. Pretty -- pretty high. Whoever, they're telling me something like 18 percent of the people who live in Seward are paying the -- paying the bills.
RACHEL MASON: Wow.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, also --
PACKY DICK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- is there a big difference between Seward in the summer and Seward in the winter? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, it's a tourist town in summer. T shirt city. Yeah. Prices go up, tourists are here. You walk into our store now and you see all the little yellow tags, tourists are starting to leave, so everything's on sale. It ain't on sale, they just moved it back to where it started from. KAREN BREWSTER: I want to ask you about the road. You know, you were talking about going out and doing things out in the Exit Glacier area before that road was put in. PACKY DICK: Yeah. There was goat -- goat trails from the city dump up this side, but it would -- it didn't go very far. And on this side, you could go through the trees and back down on the beach and back in the trees. Old Herman Leirer and them, Coke (phonetic) Foster, they put that road in. They got some grant someplace and they kept hammering away on it, and the old guy got 'er done. Yeah, they put that road in. And then it turned into a park. And then you can't. KAREN BREWSTER: So do you ever go out there anymore? PACKY DICK: Oh, I was out there the other day. I took old Bob Rappi, he's 89 years old. And I said, let's go -- an old Fin I used to -- he got off the train right out here, and there's a saw mill out behind, when he come to Alaska and he went saw milling. And then I got tangled up in saw milling. He sawed up at Bear Lake for, I don't know, four or five years, I guess. He was a sawyer up -- and then he come hauling logs with me down on the beach, worked down there for a while. We've been friends for eons. So he's 89 now, still smokes his pack of Camels a day.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: And he still lives here in Seward?
PACKY DICK: Huh? KAREN BREWSTER: He still lives here? PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. I just took him groceries today. We had to go get groceries. He whines about the price of everything, but he don't think nothing of paying 90 bucks for a carton of cigarettes. That old guy. I mean, 89, go ahead and smoke them, Rap. You know. They ain't going to bother you. Well, I took him up the glacier and showed him around, and, hey, what's all these building? Well, that's a paved road. Oh, boy. You know, it drew. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Did he notice a change in the glacier itself? PACKY DICK: No, he just seen a pile of ice. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: What about you? Can you -- can you see if there's a difference? PACKY DICK: Hard to get to it. Too many fences and too many gates. KAREN BREWSTER: And did you used to -- was it easier before? PACKY DICK: What, get to the ice?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. You'd just walk up to it. It was down this way a little bit further than it is now. You know. Kids, like my kid this winter, they went up there with their snow machines. I guess they got a trail that goes up to the top now or something. Yeah. They blew up that and went up and ripped around on the top. They had a good time. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: You don't do those things anymore?
PACKY DICK: Heavens, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a snowbird. PACKY DICK: Golf cart. Yeah, I'm down in --
RACHEL MASON: Golf cart. PACKY DICK: -- I'm down in Yuma and Mexico in the winter. How is the house doing? Go shovel the snow. No, we -- we head South every year. Yeah. Have a pretty good time at it.
Yeah, Rap was -- he was quite impressed. Look at all these cars here, all the pavement. What's going on? You know. Change.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. PACKY DICK: You can't, you can't, you can't, is the chant now. RACHEL MASON: When Herman Leirer started that road, was there a lot of opposition to it? PACKY DICK: Oh, no. Everybody wanted to get in on it.
RACHEL MASON: -- that? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. Lloyd Blondin started it on the flat side, but he got up there, there was a big slide area, and every time he'd get through there, there would be more problems, you know. So then Herman took it around and took it on the other side to keep it away from the slides. And so this -- so the left side would have been shorter.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: But the right side didn't -- then you wouldn't have had to cross the river like on the right side, but now it's developed, you know, they got all the lodges. They couldn't do that on the left side. KAREN BREWSTER: There wasn't space. PACKY DICK: No, there wasn't space, no. They'd come right down into the river with the big snow slides and the rock slides, and just... KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and back then, nobody cared -- cared about the environmental things. PACKY DICK: No, we didn't have them up here. She was pretty just do it. KAREN BREWSTER: Just put a road through with a dozer --
PACKY DICK: Put a road. Yeah. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- it didn't matter. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. We didn't have people running around with napkins getting you all worried about, oh, you broke that tree down, the squirrels won't have no place to live, you know. But they'll drive right up there with their car and protest. Oh, okay. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So when -- when Herman put that road in, people in town were happy for -- PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah, for development. It only went up to the thing. They couldn't -- the river kept you from going across. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, there was no bridge. PACKY DICK: You had to -- you know, you could go across, but you had to go through the water. And they built that bridge. I worked on that. KAREN BREWSTER: You worked on the bridge?
PACKY DICK: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. PACKY DICK: Yeah. I was running crane up there. And they put that in.
KAREN BREWSTER: That sounds like a tough job. PACKY DICK: Nah. It was an easy job. Just sit there and pull levers. Let everything happen. KAREN BREWSTER: So that was to put the pilings in? PACKY DICK: Uh hum. Drove piling, drove the cells, the steel cell, and then put the piling down inside of it so they could put the footings in and all this here, you know, below the water line, and all that. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. How do you do all that with water rushing down around it? PACKY DICK: Well, that's what they drive the cell for. KAREN BREWSTER: But how do you put the cell in? PACKY DICK: It's just sheet piling that locked together. And they just make a big circle. Then they put a bracer in it so it doesn't collapse, and then dig the dirt out, and drive the piling, and there it is. Fill it full of mud. KAREN BREWSTER: How do you -- how do you put the pieces of the cell in? Weren't you using a pile driver to pound it in? PACKY DICK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Hammer. Diesel hammer. And now they even tell you, well, you can't use a diesel hammer. Spraying, making black smoke. You can't do that. KAREN BREWSTER: I've always wondered how they put bridges in. PACKY DICK: Yeah. Well, they just built the new bridges going into Seward. Those are 80 foot pilings. They had to drive them down. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. PACKY DICK: Until they hit bedrock, so the next earthquake happens, I understand that it's going to be on the bedrock, and it won't work, you know, it won't lose it. KAREN BREWSTER: So that Exit Glacier bridge --
PACKY DICK: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- how deep are those? PACKY DICK: Well, they went -- they wasn't that deep. They hit bedrock right away. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, they did hit bedrock? PACKY DICK: Yeah. It seemed like they hit. Even one sheet wall. Well, when they drove the piling in the cell, they made it, you could just see the rock underneath there. The engineers missed it. These piling were shorter, you know, and then it went to full rock, but it didn't matter, it was on bedrock.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. PACKY DICK: Yeah. It was -- and they got it in, everybody could go across. That was nice. It was.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was nice. Makes it easier. PACKY DICK: Yeah. And then they paved it and, you know, then the tourists came. And boy they -- I guess they get -- I don't know how many thousand they get a year up there, but it's got to be -- got to be pretty good. And that's good for the town. Yeah. They come off them cruise ship and go downtown and buy a couple T shirts, wander around, take a few pictures and go up there instead of just jumping on the cruise -- busses and train and gone, you know. Take them to McKinley. KAREN BREWSTER: So when you're putting those -- well, back to the bridge, I'm interested to know more about building the bridge. You're running a crane, are -- you're onshore or you're in the river? PACKY DICK: No, I'm on -- I'm onshore. Yeah. They built a little dike out there where you can paddle out to, and sit there in the crawler crane and pick your sheets up and drive them. KAREN BREWSTER: So you were picking up the sheets to make the cell, as well as the piling? You did all of it? PACKY DICK: Yeah, then they put the piling, then they drove the piling, put a template in there to hold the piling, then they're driving it. And then they pour mud in there, cement. Pull the sheets out. And there they got 'er. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you went on to another job?
PACKY DICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That's the only part you did, were the footings? PACKY DICK: Yeah. I didn't stick around. That other part was all work. RACHEL MASON: How many of you were working on the bridge? PACKY DICK: Oh, man, I don't know how many. They probably had a crew of 20, 30. They had a pretty good crew. KAREN BREWSTER: But were you the only one doing the cells? PACKY DICK: No, they had one other crane there. They had another crane there. He was a company man, the other crane. So I took my crane and went home. KAREN BREWSTER: What do you mean, a company man? PACKY DICK: Well, he worked for the outfit that got the bid. I was hired out of the hall. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. They needed another -- PACKY DICK: Yeah, they needed another operator. KAREN BREWSTER: So being hired out of the hall, that makes you cheaper? PACKY DICK: Oh, no, I'm union. Those guys weren't. But we got Davis Bacon -- they got Davis Bacon. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I knew it was the union hall, but I didn't know if you were working for the company, that means you're more expensive, or you're more expensive if you're hired -- PACKY DICK: Well, that was Davis Bacon. They got paid the same I did, but they didn't get no retirement, no benefits or nothing like that. KAREN BREWSTER: But you did? PACKY DICK: Uh hum. Yeah. That's why I'm retired and they're probably still working, with any luck. Well, there's your -- KAREN BREWSTER: All right. Is there anything else that you've done out in this area, you know, hunting or recreation or -- PACKY DICK: No. No.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- snow machining or anything? RACHEL MASON: Or anything else you'd like to let us know about the Exit Glacier area, you know, how it's -- how your access to it has changed over the years? PACKY DICK: Oh, it's easy now, just drive up there. Yeah. Yeah. No, that's about it.
RACHEL MASON: Okay. PACKY DICK: All that happened up and down there. For me anyways.
The signs showing the glacier receeding as you enter the park
Changes in Seward since their arrival
Sub divisions built in Seward
Types of jobs in Seward
Impact of the park on their life
Current winter regulations in the park
Son's use of the Exit Glacier park
WARREN HUSS: -- we used to go out at night and the coyotes would run and chase ptarmigan up and down the Resurrection River up towards Exit Glacier, and so we'd go out and chase the coyotes at night with our snow machines. You'd just get them in the headlights, and they kind of memorized -- mesmerize them and they keep trying to, you know, get away, and then they'll stop and turn, look at them, and we just keep following them with the snow machine. It was kind of a sport, I guess. RACHEL MASON: And that would wear out the ptarmigan so that you could shoot them? WARREN HUSS: Well, no, no. We'd just do it for a little while. It was kind of neat, you know, you'd see these -- you know, you'd get close to them, you'd slow down and let them get away a little bit, but it wasn't a very nice for the thing, for the poor -- KAREN BREWSTER: I'd say it's interesting to note that there were coyotes out there. WARREN HUSS: Oh, a lot of coyotes. Still a lot of coyotes out there. And still wolves. I go out in the evening a lot of times on my snow machine, just go out and sit in the valley, and there's a couple places, oh, almost to Exit Glacier where there's long straightaways and some ravines that come in from the -- it would be the north side, and you occasionally see a wolf out there. Quite frequently see coyotes. We were just out three, four years ago, during the middle of the day, and we were coming back down the riverbed right about halfway up to Exit Glacier, and Mary all of a sudden ran up to the side and she said, "Did you realize you almost ran over a wolf?" And I said, "What?" And we -- I said, "No." She said, "Come on." We turned around and went back, and we were right along the area where the -- the river had come up close to the road, and we had snuck through between the road and the -- and the open river. And I kind of looked over the bank and there about 50 feet from me is a nice, big, black wolf.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. WARREN HUSS: And he went over to the other side of the river valley real slow, just kept looking back at us. MARY HUSS: They don't pay attention when they're driving. RACHEL MASON: Have you noticed any changes around Exit Glacier and the numbers of wolves that there are around there? WARREN HUSS: I think -- I don't know. You know, I haven't -- we go out Exit Glacier frequently to take guests out there and hike, and we oftentimes -- they have a little sign there that says, you know, what people spotted; you know, a brown bear here or black bear, goats up in the side of the mountain. And in recent years, I haven't seen anybody sighting any wolves up there. I think it's probably, even in the wintertime, I don't see wolf tracks up that valley in particular. You see them out on the riverbed, you see the wolf tracks and you see them along the edge of the road, but you just can't see them. I think maybe the snow might be too deep up there. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. And maybe just the sheer volume of visitors up there. WARREN HUSS: Yeah, although there isn't much in the wintertime. KAREN BREWSTER: In the winter you can't get up there in this easily. WARREN HUSS: So we can get out -- you get out there on a snow --
KAREN BREWSTER: A snow machine. But your average car tourist doesn't get out there. WARREN HUSS: No. No, they close it down at the bridge just past the roadhouse so you really can't access that area other than snow machine and skiing. There's a few people that ski out there, but not many ski all the way out to the -- to the visitors center. But mostly there's a lot of skiing activity, but it's in the first five to eight miles, people ski up there. I go out and ski that quite frequently. It's just a nice, level ski. The ski team at the high school uses it to practice. And -- and it's just a real popular place. Weekends and even in the middle of the week, you go out there any time and hardly ever do you go out there in the wintertime without, you know, seeing a skier out on the -- on the trail. And then a lot of kids snow machine out the Exit Glacier Road. RACHEL MASON: Well, did Herman ever live to see his dream realized or --
WARREN HUSS: Oh, yeah, yeah.
RACHEL MASON: -- making it into a tourist attraction? WARREN HUSS: Not to the extent that it is now. I can't even remember what year Herman passed away, but --
MARY HUSS: Yeah. WARREN HUSS: -- I know he was -- he was alive yet when the park was put in. And the first thing we had was the foot bridge across the river. And I can't remember where they got the bridge from; in fact, I was just going through these pictures, and I thought you were mainly interested in pre -- KAREN BREWSTER: Park.
WARREN HUSS: -- pre park days.
RACHEL MASON: Well, we are interested in that, but we want to know -- WARREN HUSS: But I've got some pictures, I could actually find them before you leave here, of when they dedicated that, the park opening the bridge. Undersecretary of the Interior -- what was his name -- Hodel came up.
MARY HUSS: Udall? WARREN HUSS: No, not Udall. Hodel. He was -- this guy was Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary. I think it was Undersecretary, his name was Hodel. And I've got pictures of him --
RACHEL MASON: And he came up for the bridge dedication?
WARREN HUSS: -- for the bridge dedication, yeah, he came up. He was -- you know, and I can't remember who -- he would have been under -- MARY HUSS: Dave?
WARREN HUSS: No, no, no. No, no, he was Dave's -- he was Dave's ultimate boss in Washington, other than -- was that during Wally Hickel's administration? I can't even remember. RACHEL MASON: I don't know.
WARREN HUSS: Might have been under Wally.
MARY HUSS: I think Herman was around, though, for getting all the way out to the glacier. WARREN HUSS: With a -- with an improved road. Oh, yeah, he was around after that. But I don't think -- I don't think he was here to see it paved all the way. Of course, it wasn't paved all the way until about five, six years ago.
RACHEL MASON: Really? WARREN HUSS: Yeah. It was paved as far as the Forest Service boundary, that big pullout where the Forest Service boundary is, which is about Mile 7, I guess.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. WARREN HUSS: And it was paved to that point; and from there on, it was still a gravel road, but it was well improved. They'd already rechanneled the river, they had these, what do you call it, riprap where they formed a thing to divert when the river overflows its banks, it diverts it back out into the mid-channel to save the road. So the road doesn't get washed out nearly like it -- like it used to. But Herman worked hard on that road, and he -- like I say, he was a real -- I think he was a visionary for the whole park there. MARY HUSS: I think the road is technically named Herman Leirer --
KAREN BREWSTER: It is.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah, at least the beginning part of it is.
MARY HUSS: -- Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: Interesting. KAREN BREWSTER: Back to your bridges, I'm really curious about your bridges, your snow machine bridges, those were just to get across the different channels because, as you said, you were on the opposite side. WARREN HUSS: Yeah, usually we would find a place where we just had to cross it once. And usually through the winter months, if we got across it, it would last -- you didn't want to build multiple bridges, so we would find a spot where it was fairly deep, the river was fairly deep, but narrow enough that you could get one of these ladders or a tree across there, a couple trees. Originally, like I said, we used to fall a couple trees, we'd drag them all the way out, a bunch of us, Gayle Albertson, he was an employee for the city and the water department, great, big guy real strong, and we'd drag these trees out there and stand them up and drop them across, and then take boards and pound boards across it and put the spruce boughs on it and drive the snow machine, you know, after a snowfall or two. KAREN BREWSTER: So you put the bridges in, and then you hopefully kept using the same bridge all winter -- WARREN HUSS: We'd use the same bridge until spring, and in the spring, in the spring breakup, it would take -- KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you see, that was my question. Did you go retrieve your ladders or -- WARREN HUSS: Oh, no, no, you could never find them. They'd get out in the river, they'd just get ground to bits, I'm sure. Maybe the trees would have survived, I don't know, but no, we never went back and retrieved them. Never thought about -- KAREN BREWSTER: Now, were these ladders you built --
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, we built them.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you build them first. WARREN HUSS: That was, well, just -- it was like a ladder, it was across -- it was wider than a ladder because you had to have it wide enough to get a snow machine across, but we would build those. Actually, that came from an idea of mine in Labrador, we talked about trying to get across there, and like I say, we used trees, then when I was in Goose Bay, Labrador, I used to pull what was called a komatik behind the snow machine, and we'd go out on the ice cap and we'd go seal hunting. And the ice leads would open up on Caratin Basin and Reglet Inlet, so you would get these cracks that would go for miles and miles across the saltwater in the basin, and you'd take your sled, and it was made of wood, it was called a komatik, and you'd slide it over, and it had runners on the bottom, then you'd just flip it over, but they were wide enough that you could drive a snow machine across them. So you'd -- you'd float them across.
We had hooks up on the ends of the points of the front of the sled, and a little metal shoe that had a little point on it, so then you'd just tip it up, catch it in the ice, and flip it over, drive across, and then drive your snow machine across carrying your barrels of fuel, your tent and everything, cross, get on the other side, hook up your snow machine, pull the -- pull the komatik off, and it was basically a ladder that you used as a bridge. RACHEL MASON: And people used them in Labrador? WARREN HUSS: Oh, everybody had them. You usually used them with a three to five person -- dog sled, they pulled them with dog -- dog teams. They would use a fan trace instead of what we normally think of, you know, where they have a string of dogs along one, two dogs, and a dog on either side, they used a fan trace like they used in -- they use in Greenland and that area. It's just anywhere from three to five dogs, and they'd all be pulling out at a different angle, and they would pull these komatiks along. RACHEL MASON: That's interesting. WARREN HUSS: We didn't -- I never did it with dogs, but we always used them because they -- you could haul a ton of freight on them, but it was strictly level. You're out on the, you know, North Atlantic, you're out on the ice cap of the North Atlantic, and you'd just run along on those. You could -- you could put a ton of gear in there and a 12 horse snow machine and you get it started and then it would keep moving. RACHEL MASON: Now, how did you happen to get to Labrador?
WARREN HUSS: That was in -- in the military.
RACHEL MASON: Oh. MARY HUSS: Air Force.
WARREN HUSS: I graduated from dentist school. It was just -- I went in the Air Force. It was a US Air base, it was Canadian and RCAF military Air Force, and we had 14,000 U.S. military supporting Vietnam operations. We ferried a lot of aircraft, and there was -- we had 15 or 16 KC 135 tankers that refueled aircraft going over the North Atlantic. They were -- they refuel jets in midair, take them into Europe, taking a lot of trainers over for the -- oh, France was buying a lot of trainers at that time. The -- from the U.S. Anyways, it was just, that's how we got there,
RACHEL MASON: But it sounds like --
WARREN HUSS: -- as a dentist.
RACHEL MASON: -- you got out on the line and land and hunted and --
WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: -- got some -- WARREN HUSS: Got to be good friends with a fellow that was a wildlife biologist up there, he was actually from the U.S., he married an Irish nurse from the International Grenfell Association, and we got to be friends, and they lived in a little Native settlement called Happy Valley -- I mean, Northwest River about 20 miles off the base. Eskimos on one side of the river, Athabascan Indians on the other, and they lived on the Eskimo side of this Grant -- Grant Lake. And we'd go up there and we'd go trouting.
MARY HUSS: Eat seals. -- WARREN HUSS: Eat seals. Ate seals. We did a lot of ptarmigan hunting there, too. It was fun. We had a fun time in the military. We have good friends that we still stay in contact. In fact, we're going overseas with a pediatrician and his wife from 30 years ago, we're going to go overseas this fall with them. KAREN BREWSTER: So other uses that you've had with the Exit Glacier and the Resurrection Valley? WARREN HUSS: Yeah. We've -- we did several different things. One of the things early on, and this was after the park opened, they had a regular ski meet out there that they -- Dave Moore organized, and it was very popular event. And you'd cross country ski, and usually we started -- where did we start in those days? MARY HUSS: We started at the big bridge area. It wasn't the big bridge then.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
MARY HUSS: And skied to the glacier. To the visitor center. WARREN HUSS: And skied to the glacier. It was a long ski. And they used to -- they're building a new building there right now, they are just putting up, and I can't remember, I was talking with a fellow that was doing construction, it's just past where the visitor center is as you're going towards the glacier, over on the left side there's new, big building going in there.
MARY HUSS: Pavilion. WARREN HUSS: It's a pavilion. And that used to be the original site of the visitors center, which was just a small cabin. It was probably twice the size of this -- of this dining room. And so we'd ski up there. Big participation. I mean, we'd have 40 -- 30, 40 people ski all the way out there, and they had hot chocolate and cookies for everybody, and awards for all different age groups, you know, big ribbons they'd pass out. And we did that every year. And then they also had the Exit Glacier Run, which was the same thing. Of course, that started --
MARY HUSS: They still do that, don't they? WARREN HUSS: Yeah, but that actually started before -- the Exit Glacier Run started before the park because we used to run up as far as the -- where you cross the river, and I still remember going up there and you'd sometimes have to run through water because the river diverted and washed out the road, and you'd be running up the road and all of a sudden 200 yards of the road is gone, there's all these big rocks. And our kids, they were real young, elementary school at the time, and they would go trucking up through these rocks, and we'd all -- she didn't run, but our daughter, and they later became runners in college and stuff, and our son, and I trucked along with them, trying to. And that was a very popular activity, just to -- RACHEL MASON: Was that an annual event?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, it was an annual event. RACHEL MASON: What time of year do they have that?
MARY HUSS: That was in the spring.
WARREN HUSS: That was in the spring of the year.
MARY HUSS: I think. WARREN HUSS: And that was -- like I say, that was before Exit Glacier was a park. That was in -- they continue, they still do it today, but the original race out there started long before there was any bridge or any park. So... KAREN BREWSTER: And then the ski meet that you mentioned, what time of year was that?
MARY HUSS: I think that was in March. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. I remember it was pretty long daylight hours.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you skied to the visitors center and back? MARY HUSS: No. Oh, no. Well, I guess you did to get back.
KAREN BREWSTER: How did you get back? WARREN HUSS: Well, we had some people that didn't want to -- didn't want to -- they didn't mind skiing up, but they didn't want to go back. So what a bunch of us did is we would participate in the race, and then we had a bunch of snow machines back by the Windsong -- you know, the roadhouse at that first bridge. And we had some sleds and just sleds that pull behind a snow machine and we'd pile three people on the snow machine, driver, and two other people, and put a couple skiers and all their skis and come back down the road. So people would ski up, and then probably two thirds of them didn't have the energy to ski back because they had raced, so we would bring them back by snow machine back to their cars, which were parked at that -- where the Old Exit Glacier Road comes into the new one now. So... KAREN BREWSTER: Where the gate is?
WARREN HUSS: Where the gate is, yeah. Yeah. But -- well, we -- we did, you know, the races up there for years. And I'm trying to think of any other activities. Mainly just a lot of snow machining up at that area in the wintertime. That was pretty spectacular. I've - there's -- got some other pictures here that you -- KAREN BREWSTER: So why did you go up there in particular? Why was that appealing for snow machining? WARREN HUSS: Well, it was appealing in that for us, and this is part of the reason that we argued against closing it down to snow machining, it's level. And for inexperienced snow machiners to learn, for a child to learn how to snow machine, it was an ideal place because they could -- they were on the level, they couldn't get stuck, in most instances they couldn't get stuck, where if you tried to go up to Lost Lake or something like that with a -- you know, a seven or eight year old. You know, I used to take my snow machine and I put a little block of wood and tape it underneath the throttle so they could only go about, you know, 7 or 8 miles an hour, but that way you could let them go, they weren't in any danger, and Exit Glacier was just a great learning area for these kids because it was level and they just loved going out in that outwash plain and riding across the -- MARY HUSS: And taking elderly parents.
WARREN HUSS: And taking elderly parents out there. That was another thing. They just couldn't -- in their later years, they couldn't -- we got them up to Lost Lake a couple years, her folks. My folks never came up in the wintertime, they'd came up every year to fish. KAREN BREWSTER: But you say that it's flat, but dealing with that river and open water and --
WARREN HUSS: It's still basically flat. I'm talking about -- KAREN BREWSTER: No, I know, but that having to deal with open water and crossings and things, that's challenging --
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- for a snow machiner.
MARY HUSS: But we didn't --
WARREN HUSS: We usually didn't -- we didn't usually cross the rivers with the kids. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, so you could stay on this side of the river --
WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- and it would be okay?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. WARREN HUSS: And you could go all the way up, you could go right through where the visitors centers is and where the paved trail is that goes up to the glacier, that was just a trail at that time, it wasn't paved, but you know, we kept it open, we'd brush out either side of the trail, and you could snow machine out on it right where the lower of that first trail goes out, that's where we started going out. KAREN BREWSTER: But how did -- if there -- before the bridge was there, how did you cross, you crossed lower down -- WARREN HUSS: Yeah. We crossed --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- where the trapping trail was?
WARREN HUSS: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was safer?
WARREN HUSS: With snow machines. MARY HUSS: I don't think we crossed the river that often.
WARREN HUSS: I did a lot with Phil.
MARY HUSS: Well, yeah, but with kids... WARREN HUSS: Yeah. You didn't. You didn't cross it that much. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but with the kids or something, okay -- WARREN HUSS: And we usually made, like, one or two trips before the bridge was there in the summertime where we'd go across in canoe or, you know, a little rubber ducky type thing. KAREN BREWSTER: That seems quite exciting. WARREN HUSS: It was fine.
MARY HUSS: It could be rather -- WARREN HUSS: You know, it's changed so much because it used to, back -- I've got some picture here, it would just amaze you, on the -- here's some of that road dog machines -- snow machine, that's on the outwash plain. Here's Exit Glacier early on. This is -- this is long before it was a park. These are back in, this is '78, not long -- RACHEL MASON: Wow. Are these the snow machines that you brought with you from Labrador? WARREN HUSS: No. No. That's -- that's a little sled that I -- that I hauled the skiers back with. RACHEL MASON: Oh. And this must be your son? This young boy?
MARY HUSS: Probably, yeah.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. Or no, that might be Andy or Pete. RACHEL MASON: That's in '78. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. This is where the upper trail now just breaks out before you turn and you go up, off -- kind of off the trail up to the side of the glacier. That's how high the glacier was above the existing trail. I mean, this -- the glacier now is down at this level here. KAREN BREWSTER: And can you point --
WARREN HUSS: This knob is still visible. This knob is still visible here, but this is the height of the glacier here, and now the height of the glacier is all the way down here. It's probably down 75 or a hundred feet in elevation. RACHEL MASON: Wow. Just since that.
WARREN HUSS: Uh-hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: What is that, '78? RACHEL MASON: Since about '78.
KAREN BREWSTER: '78. WARREN HUSS: '78. That was '78. 6 -- July -- no, June 12th, '78. And that's early in the winter. MARY HUSS: Back when you could be close.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Look how --
MARY HUSS: That's '78. RACHEL MASON: That is amazing.
WARREN HUSS: This is what the front of the glacier used to be like. There was a huge lake in front of the glacier.
RACHEL MASON: Really? From the melt-off -- WARREN HUSS: It came out from the runoff, instead of it being a river like it is now, it was far enough out in the outwash plain, it's out there probably, oh, three quarters of a mile further than what it is now, or maybe a mile. RACHEL MASON: Wow.
WARREN HUSS: And it was the point where it was fairly level. Now it's retreating up the -- so that there's more slant so it's all river, but at that time, it was so far out in the wash -- outwash plain, there was a huge, huge lake out in front of it. MARY HUSS: So I don't know where, where would that be?
WARREN HUSS: That's on the -- just looking at the glacier from the right side. Here's Mary's folks, they're out, and that's in '78, and that's in the outwash plain. Hiking in. That's -- we walked all -- we took a canoe across and a boat and walked up there, and then we -- I can't remember how -- we must have gone up the trail, but that's once you were out on the outwash plain, and as you're looking back, the visitors center here is right across from these sandy loam areas here, and this is looking back down the valley. This is up on the knob looking out on the outwash plain, that's Mary. And this is Exit Creek. RACHEL MASON: It looks like you've got a little person's leg on you, too.
MARY HUSS: Yeah. WARREN HUSS: This is about the same time, this is '72, this is Exit Creek, and the -- the road would be over here, Paradise is here, and this creek right here, if you continue on up to your right, it would be Exit Glacier. So you're looking up, you're looking at the end of the mountain, which is you're looking at -- hmm. RACHEL MASON: Is it over on this side?
WARREN HUSS: It would be over on this side. You're looking at the end of this mountain right here. So you're looking right at the end of the mountain. And the road goes down this valley, this is Paradise Valley going up this way, on up the river this way is -- is -- yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe, you should make -- you should enter -- Rachel, you should write on the map there that there's a photo of that. RACHEL MASON: Okay. Wait -- where was the -- WARREN HUSS: This photo was taken somewhere, I would guess from the angle, it's on Exit Creek, and it's probably, oh, taken -- that photo was probably taken from right in here somewhere. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. Could you write "photo" under there? Yeah.
WARREN HUSS: On photo. It's written on the back, Exit. RACHEL MASON: Oh, good.
WARREN HUSS: Exit Creek photo. This one here is -- you're welcome to take these pictures, you said you'd like to -- KAREN BREWSTER: Scan them.
RACHEL MASON: Can we can them and then return them to you? WARREN HUSS: Yeah. This one here is just out on the outwash plain. This is right in front of the glacier. That's the lake right in front of the glacier. MARY HUSS: Yeah, it's too bad you can get that one more --
WARREN HUSS: These are --
MARY HUSS: -- what it's like today. I mean, you know what I'm saying? RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Yeah. Compared to --
MARY HUSS: Because that's '78.
RACHEL MASON: Find the exact same place today. MARY HUSS: Because we don't always agree with the Park Service's --
WARREN HUSS: We have -- when they originally put up their signs --
MARY HUSS: -- analysis of how the parks gone back. WARREN HUSS: When they originally put up their signs, they had one sign that said 19 -- that the glacier was back where that little kiosk is, that there was a sign there that said the glacier was there in 1974. RACHEL MASON: And you know it wasn't.
WARREN HUSS: It was -- it was already all the way back -- it was already all the way back to this knob, it retreated all the way back to this knob that you stand on now. KAREN BREWSTER: Can you -- is there a way to see that on that map, where that knob would be, you could mark it?
WARREN HUSS: I don't --
KAREN BREWSTER: It's not detailed enough? WARREN HUSS: I don't -- it's not detailed enough. You know, it was -- the knob is right -- let's see, the knob is right in here now, I would guess, probably.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. WARREN HUSS: And they were saying at that time that the glacier was down in this area. Well, it's more than a half mile further down than it -- it was -- it was -- their mark was a half mile further out than what it should have been. KAREN BREWSTER: So that little part you marked the knob, that was 1978, you said? WARREN HUSS: No, in '74. We have a picture of our son standing on that knob. And we gave that to the Park Service, didn't we? Ann Castellina kept that. KAREN BREWSTER: If you could just write "1974" next to that little mark, that will help us correlate what your talking about.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. 1974. And this is -- RACHEL MASON: That would be very helpful comparing. Just look at what it looks like today. MARY HUSS: Yeah, I know we had a good picture that -- I thought I brought it to the meeting in October. WARREN HUSS: They had --
MARY HUSS: But, I don't think I gave it to you guys because I think you all said -- KAREN BREWSTER: Keep them.
RACHEL MASON: Keep them and we'll look at them later.
MARY HUSS: That was a mistake -- WARREN HUSS: See, their sign was right here by the -- the sign was right here by the kiosk in '74. Right there. Right at the kiosk. And -- but we have pictures of standing all the way up here, so you know, obviously the glacier wasn't there because that knob was exposed in '74 when that picture was taken. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's great to know.
WARREN HUSS: In fact, the top of the knob was expose -- was there. And that's where when you come down the -- you know, if you go up the trail, that -- not the high one up to the icefield, but the other one, if you go up that trail and make a loop and come back down, you're on top of that knob. Well, that knob where that trail is right now was there in '74, that was exposed. The glacier had retreated beyond that, but to the east it was much higher. And this picture here is interesting because this was -- you know, this is before they started telling you don't get close to glaciers. And that was over on the east side of the glacier. And there was, you know, on the opposite side from -- of the glacier, which you enter, you know, from the -- from the visitors center, it was on the other side, and it's just this humongous big face that was 150 feet high, just in -- it was like a tidewater glacier, it was just huge. And we were up there with Campbells, I can't remember, it must have been '74 or '75, and a whole bunch of us had snow machined up there. And we were up along that face and we were looking at it from a distance because we knew it wasn't a good idea to be, you know, up close to the face. Well, the boys, they were all -- the Campbell boys were 8, 9 years old, 10 years old, oh, they wanted their picture taken in front of that, and Keith Campbell and I said no. We're not going up close to that thing. Not going to go up. Oh, they had to do it. They had to have their picture taken. We fought with them and fought with them. One of them -- we started to leave, one of them turned around to go back, he wanted to get a picture of it. We went back and had lunch back kind of over where the -- where you entered the outwash plain now, never heard a thing. Before we decided to leave we said, well, let's go -- they wanted to back over and look. We went back over there, and that whole thing in that half hour, that whole face had broken off and had just crumbled and thrown ice out 50, 75 feet. That whole big face just collapsed. And we never even heard it.
RACHEL MASON: Well, good thing you weren't standing there.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
MARY HUSS: Yeah. I think it was later than '74, but -- WARREN HUSS: You think that was later than '74? Might have been because Douglas and our kids were driving snow machines, but I think Douglas and Danny and Lenny were probably driving snow machines at that time. But... RACHEL MASON: Wow. So it was, it was active -- it was an active glacier even then.
MARY HUSS: Yeah. Yeah. WARREN HUSS: But I think our primary use over the years was wintertime use of the area. RACHEL MASON: Okay.
MARY HUSS: And now it's tourist -- I mean, company. And winter. RACHEL MASON: I see. Well, here's one, just one more real general question. Over the years that you've been here in Seward, what -- what are some of the major changes that you've seen in this community and in -- I mean, you could specifically talk about the Exit Glacier, but just in general I'm interested in. WARREN HUSS: Well, it's -- the population has just been slow and steady in growth. Of course, we had the oil spill and pipeline days made a, you know, big impact on town. The pipeline, just a lot of -- a lot of local people went to work on the pipeline, and a lot of people made good money in a short period of time, and we were able to come back and invest in town. Ray and Leslie Simutis, they both went up to work on the pipeline shortly after they -- shortly after they moved here to town. And they came back and opened -- well, they opened their first restaurant, it was called Bubba's, which is now Sailing, Inc., and then they moved and built Ray's Waterfront, that was all out of pipeline money. And there are a lot of other businesses that started in that same way, they made money on the pipeline, came back to town and after the pipeline was finished, and put their money to good use and built a -- you know, good businesses in town. MARY HUSS: I think the fact that all the people live out of town, in, you know, all the subdivisions and stuff because none of those were there. We -- we were considered here as living way out of town. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. There was nothing behind us. You know, we have Nash Woods, we have Woodland Hills subdivision behind us, not a lot of homes, but when we first moved here, you could strike an arc, I always told people, of about 130 degrees, and there wasn't a living soul until you got over to, you know, Whittier and in a hundred and some miles across the mountains. There was nobody. Nobody lived back there. KAREN BREWSTER: And what about those places right at the beginning of Exit Glacier Road? I mean, there's people who now live out there. Were they there when you got here? WARREN HUSS: No. There were a few homes down Old Exit Glacier Road, down where the Seaveys lived. They were just cabins, kind of. And there was a little bit of a community kind of down in behind Spenard Building Supply, in that area, but nothing -- nothing past -- well, past where the Salmon Bake is now. There -- there wasn't anybody lived out there. But town is -- it's -- it's grown slow. Of course, it had a lot of devastation -- well, a lot of devastation after the earthquake, so a lot of people left town. But I think a lot -- some of those people have started to move back. Big notice -- big changes that I've noticed is the quality of the homes. When we first moved here, there weren't very many nice residences around, they were all pretty small. A lot of people, fishermen that made very, very good money, lived in little tiny homes, and even in those days, they were -- those were the heyday of crabbing and scalloping, and those guys were making millions of dollars a year, and yet they lived in little one story bungalows, you know. The home wasn't their interest, they put all their money in their boats. And it wasn't until the Forest Acres kind of took off. That area around behind the Safeway store, that was already here, Bear -- what do they call that area, Marathon, Bear Road area. That's -- that was the nicer residential section in town, up kind of towards where the school --
MARY HUSS: Clearview. Clearview.
WARREN HUSS: Clearview. Clearview subdivision. Then there was another big subdivision kind of down on the waterfront that had Walter Hickel and a contractor in Anchorage called -- I can't remember his first name, Brady, they had what were called Brady and Hickel homes right after the earthquake. And those are a lot of the homes that are still there right along where the campground is, just down -- the area of the Post Office, all along waterfront, if you look at a lot of those homes, you realize they are all kind of the same size, they've just been added on to and fixed up, but they are all Brady-Hickel homes that were all basically the same, you know, tract type home. And when we got here, a lot of them were vacant, a lot of them were still these little square homes, and people have taken lots and put on additions and changed them quite a bit. And, of course, the downtown area has changed tremendously. When we first got here, there were no paved roads in town in '71. There was the main highway coming in town was paved, but the harbor was all, you know, unpaved, that was all just dirt. There was none of that -- you know, nothing along where -- it was all parking along the waterfront, all where the -- where the harbormaster's building was there, but all the landing and Ray's Waterfront and, of course, the Holiday Inn Express, that whole area was all just parking on the waterfront. And there were few businesses. RACHEL MASON: It must have been an interesting time when you first got here.
WARREN HUSS: Pardon?
MARY HUSS: Town was pretty fragile. RACHEL MASON: A pretty interesting time, the town was fragile, but maybe like in the spirit of new growth or new hope. WARREN HUSS: Yeah, there was -- you know, the longshoring was basically nonexistent, but we still have a big longshoring union here. And it really took off during pipeline days, but the -- the longshoreman that still lived here in town, Kowalskis (phonetic), and a lot of these people, McSwains, they all went to -- during the -- the barging season and stuff, a lot of them went to Ketchikan, Southeastern, because they could get their hours in. So a big portion of the population, the men, would leave and go where the work was, the longshoring work. And they might stay down there for the entire summer; spring, summer, and even into the fall to get their longshoring hours to keep their benefits. And, you know, all those people like Willard Dunham and McSwains, and they were all longshoremen. And there was a big retired longshoreman group here in town. LeVan, Duane LeVan, they -- they worked all over the state because work wasn't available here. So it was a funny population. You know, the women were around and men would take off, go do their thing in the summer, construction, and then come back. RACHEL MASON: They must have liked it enough here to stay here or leave their families here anyway and come back. MARY HUSS: I think Seward has oldest stable population; is that right? WARREN HUSS: Probably. In the state.
SHANNON KOVAC: Oldest stable population?
MARY HUSS: Most stable older population in the state. In the town. KAREN BREWSTER: People can move around.
MARY HUSS: Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: It does -- it does seem less transient than a lot of places.
MARY HUSS: Right. WARREN HUSS: But there's so much more activity in town now. The new homes and, of course, the Skill Center, which is now AVTEC, when we first got here, was just getting started when we arrived here in town. And of course, that -- that's pre-university, UAF stuff down along the waterfront, those were just old. The UAF came in there, and that was just a great, big, huge steel warehouse left over after the earthquake, and wiped all that waterfront area out. And there wasn't a whole lot going on in town. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you mentioned before that the community wasn't so excited about the park coming in and being established in 1980. How do you guys feel about it now that it's been here? You know, you said you were worried about it. WARREN HUSS: Love it.
MARY HUSS: I think town loves it.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. I think they like the business it's attracted, all the tourism. You know, people can make money now in this town. When we first got here, there wasn't a whole lot going on, you know. You couldn't -- there just weren't many jobs. You either had your own business and worked at that, or you left town to work during the summer and came back during the winter. But I think people in town now are very appreciative of the -- of the park itself. KAREN BREWSTER: So your fears about reduced access was -- WARREN HUSS: Oh, that was -- that was quelled before they even opened the park. When Dave came in here, Dave Moore came in here and -- and started, I can't remember whether it actually opened when he came here or whether --
MARY HUSS: No, I think he was the second, but just by a few months. WARREN HUSS: Oh, there was somebody. But they brought in Dave specifically because of his people skills. And he allayed all fears and everything. And I don't think -- it was just like the prison, there were a lot of people that just were against the prison when they started talking about building it. Then when they found out more about the prison, once it got underway, they think, wow, it's a good business. A good clean business.
KAREN BREWSTER: Jobs. MARY HUSS: I think the Park Service is still a little nervous about Exit Glacier in the winter, they're not quite as eager for access, and this is just -- and I feel you need to remind the younger Park Service employees who the parks belong to. This is my theory. But... KAREN BREWSTER: In that they -- that they are tempted to want to reduce -- MARY HUSS: They don't want snow machines, but when you ask them how many were out last week, they'll say, oh, we saw four machines, you know. WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
MARY HUSS: So we're vigilant when they -- that's what I thought you guys were doing.
RACHEL MASON: When the road is closed -- oh no... MARY HUSS: No, I mean, last fall, that's why any time Exit Glacier comes up, we go to the meeting. KAREN BREWSTER: To defend your right to use it? Is that what you mean? MARY HUSS: Well, right. And I feel strongly after watching Ken Burns's Park Service thing that the parks belong to the people. And we're not trashing the park. WARREN HUSS: And that the real mission of the Park Service and the Forest Service, at times over the years, has been neglected. We've had Park Service heads in here who, basically, if they could have, they would have shut the park down and nobody would have used it. MARY HUSS: Not the heads. I don't think the chief dogs, I think the --
RACHEL MASON: The employees.
KAREN BREWSTER: The staff.
MARY HUSS: -- the younger people. WARREN HUSS: Well, you have the one that lived out at --
MARY HUSS: Well, right, but he was Forest Service, I think. Hard to keep those two separate. WARREN HUSS: Oh, that's right. He was Forest Service. Right. MARY HUSS: But I love Exit Glacier because in the summer it's accessible. People in wheelchairs can get there, and I don't feel that destroys the wilderness experience for somebody who doesn't live in the wilderness. And if we all want wilderness, we can just find it. And then the same way in the winter.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. MARY HUSS: It just works well until they start messing with it. RACHEL MASON: Do you think it should be opened up more in the winter? MARY HUSS: No, I think it's fine right now. But just leave it. They are always tweaking it. KAREN BREWSTER: And what are the -- right now, what are the rules? It's open in the winter for snow machines? MARY HUSS: Uh-hum. Skiers.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, you --
KAREN BREWSTER: Up to certain boundaries? WARREN HUSS: Well, you can go up -- the current plan the way they have it, which is supposed to be a 20 year plan, you can go up as far as the visitors center, but you have to stay on the road. And you're allowed to go up Paradise and Paradise Valley, but when they were originally proposing this plan, we went to the meeting at AVTEC, and they had all their drawings up on the board and everything. And they said, well, now you can go up Exit Glacier up Paradise if you want, but you can't cross this line on the -- on the east side of the highway, once you cross the bridge. And I thought, wait a minute, their line goes all the way from the visitors center, and it was a red line, and it went down 10 feet off the side of the highway, it would be the east side of the road up to the glacier from the bridge, and it went from the visitors center down to the middle of the river. They had a very detailed map. It went down to the very middle of the river. That never freezes. It never freeze there. So I said, now, wait a minute, how are you supposed to get up to Exit -- Exit Valley if you've got no access? And then I proposed, I said at that meeting, I said, why don't you just open a trail to Exit Creek through the campground, which is that little area -- pardon me, the little area, oh, a quarter mile back down from -- from the visitors center, half mile back down. I said, open access there, let us go out to Exit Creek, and that way we can access the valley. And they -- they agreed to that. So, but they had that plan to shut that -- so that, yeah, we could use it, but there was no way you could get to it, unless you wanted to go back to the original effort of building these bridges and everything to get across the river to get up to Exit. So... RACHEL MASON: Building ladders or whatever. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. And then they were really reluctant to begin with. Well, we don't want you -- so then, you know, there were a lot of compromises made, they opened that up. They -- for a while, first year or so, they completely closed down the outwash plain, right where you come up Exit Creek, and then all of a sudden widens out, they wanted that, save that for the skiers in the wintertime. Well, nobody skis up there in the wintertime. Some, there's a few people.
KAREN BREWSTER: They just use the road. WARREN HUSS: There's a few people will get up there --
MARY HUSS: But you have to be world class.
WARREN HUSS: but not many all the way up to the glacier. MARY HUSS: Unless you've got a snow machine to take you up there.
WARREN HUSS: 99 percent of the usage is back in that first 6 to 8 miles of the road. So they had the whole outwash plain, and now in the last couple years, they now -- they even put signs up across the face of it and the face of the glacier, and you have to stay, like, 200 yards out. And I think a lot of that has been pressure from the military, from the Seward Resort operation because they said, wait a minute, we -- we'll take 20 people a day up there and let them enjoy the glacier, and you know, we don't have to go up the face of the glacier, but let these airmen come down and ride around out on that plain instead of riding down the road, give them a little open space to snow machine in. And at that point, they -- I think Lonnie Fisher [phonetic], who is the one, probably a lot of pressure if him, they were able to get that opened up to the point where you could use, utilize most of the outwash plain and from the glacier now for -- for just riding. I go up there in the late afternoon, middle of the week, and like I say, I go up there to sit and watch game and stuff, and it's just snow machines going around. Well, if they weren't allowed up there, nobody would be up there. Maybe a couple skiers a week at the most. KAREN BREWSTER: But you're still allowed to go up and down the river, the main river?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. Oh yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: But you can only go up the road?
MARY HUSS: Yeah, you can't -- you're not supposed to go off the road. WARREN HUSS: Yeah, you're not -- just in the last couple years they've posted signs. Now, it's a real -- yeah, you're not supposed to go out there.
MARY HUSS: We don't go out there. WARREN HUSS: They have signs posted there that shows no -- it says no off road -- it's an interesting sign. It doesn't have a snow machine, it has four wheeler, it has like a Jeep or a truck type thing and something, but it doesn't specifically have a snow machine. But I asked them, I said, you know, you don't have a snow machine on that sign, is it all right for me to snow -- no, they don't want you out there in that outlying river valley. KAREN BREWSTER: So the way you used to go up the river valley with your bridges, you can't do that anymore. WARREN HUSS: No, you can't do that anymore. No. No. You're supposed to stay on the road.
KAREN BREWSTER: On the road. WARREN HUSS: On the road. Once you enter the forest, once you're -- you pass out of that BLM land on to the Forest Service land, which is the right side of the road, not in the park, but on the ride side of the road is Forest Service, once you're -- I think the road basically is still a Forest Service road. Am I correct? SHANNON KOVAC: Part of it is.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. Part of it is. And so not until it makes the turn at the bridge does it actually enter into the park itself. So the right hand side of the road is Forest Service land, the left hand side of the road is still -- well, it'd be park land now is back down to a certain point, and then it's beyond land back -- or borough land back towards town. MARY HUSS: But we all share it.
WARREN HUSS: Well, no, you're not supposed to go out there. KAREN BREWSTER: For all those (inaudible), no matter where you are up there, is on stay on the road, nowadays. WARREN HUSS: Yeah, but I mean, you know, you know they don't enforce that. They've allowed the military to use -- go out on the riverbed, and they -- to my knowledge, they haven't said anything. I still see their tracks out there. They pretty much stay in one track and they don't go roaming around.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, there's open water. WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
MARY HUSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And your river doesn't freeze solid. WARREN HUSS: No. No, there's always some open sections.
KAREN BREWSTER: Makes it dangerous. RACHEL MASON: Well, is there anything else that you'd like to tell us that you want to make sure that we get on record here? MARY HUSS: I didn't mean to get on my soapbox. RACHEL MASON: That's good. That's exactly good.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's why I asked you about that. That's part of it. You're allowed to soapbox. WARREN HUSS: Our son used to, and his high school friends when they were in high school and just after college, they used to have a ball, they would go up on the edge of the glacier and they'd come out on top here where the current upper trail goes on the glacier, and they would hike out to this bowl out here and take their skis up.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you want to mark that on there? WARREN HUSS: Well, they would -- they would take the regular trail, it goes up the side here, and then they'd go out and they would ski across out here with cross country skis, and then this -- these ridges are open almost all year around, and they would hike up these ridges, and then using downhill technique with cross country skis, would ski down that face of the --
RACHEL MASON: They'd hike up with skis on their back? WARREN HUSS: Yeah, just hike up with skis on their back in the summertime. And this -- right after you get out here there's a few places where there's crevasses and stuff, but they always were pretty safe and roped together and stuff. And they had some interesting experiences out there. They were out skiing one day, I think there were three or four of them, they were out skiing out in the buff out there. And they were just about back to the -- back where the people, you know, were up on the edge of the glacier, or up on the land here right where it goes --
KAREN BREWSTER: The day hikers. WARREN HUSS: -- on the glacier, and all of a sudden, they -- they realize there are people there, so they pulled on their pants and they skied on over, and there are five German ladies standing there, oh, we have been watching you through the binoculars, so much fun. RACHEL MASON: So much fun. Well, what did they do with their clothes?
KAREN BREWSTER: They had a pack.
WARREN HUSS: They had packs. They had a pack. They had packs,
RACHEL MASON: Oh, they had packs. I was going to say. WARREN HUSS: They had ropes in case they, you know, ran into -- ropes in case they ran into the little crevasses. And she -- they always -- our son always told us that, oh, there's no crevasses out there, don't worry, it's fine. And finally, I think it was he's home from college maybe his junior or senior year, and he said, well -- we were all sitting around the table one night and he said, now, have the -- what does he call it? MARY HUSS: The statute of limitations.
WARREN HUSS: Has the statute of limitations run out? And we said, what? Well, then, these stories kept coming out, things they did when they were in high school. Of course, it's a small town, you think you know everything. Well, anyway, one of the -- Steven went back in his room and hauled out a picture, and here he is just standing on the crevasse, it's just bottomless, he's straddling it on his skis, and it just goes off as far as you can see behind him, and he's standing over this big crevasse. And I think at that point Mary just about fainted, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: But he did have clothes on?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, yeah, he did have clothes on for that experience. MARY HUSS: At least he had the picture. Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: That gives me shivers just thinking about it.
MARY HUSS: Yeah. Definitely. WARREN HUSS: They also had a very funny experience. They were -- they skied out here one afternoon, it was -- they used to go up there all the time because in the summertime you go out and, you know, shorts and the T-shirt and just -- it's nice skiing. So they were out skiing here one afternoon, and they ran into a group of three -- let's see, I can't even remember, Tetreau and Peter Fitzmaurice, and I can't remember who the third -- and they were doing the cross the icefield from Homer. RACHEL MASON: I think I'd heard about this.
WARREN HUSS: They had a movie, they have a very nicely done movie. Well, Steven and the kids, they're all out there skiing, and here they come, these guys, they've got parkas on and they are all zipped up with these tunnels, and they're pulling sleds and they said, what are you kids doing out here? They didn't realize who -- they didn't know who these kids were. And these kids were saying, well, we're trying to find Seward, we just skied over from Homer. Supposedly, like the same route. Well, you're not supposed to be out here. And they said, well, could you tell us how to get to where we go down -- where we get off the glacier to go down to Seward. Peter, and did you ever know Peter?
SHANNON KOVAC: No. WARREN HUSS: He and Tetreau, they got pretty upset with the boys, and I think they finally confessed, he said, we are from Seward, we come up here all the time. And he said, how can you stand it in those parkas all zipped up and everything? It's -- you know, it's 80 degrees out or whatever. You know, so... MARY HUSS: Back in the old days when the sun was out in Seward. Not this summer.
KAREN BREWSTER: Not this summer. Well, great. Thank you very much for your time --
RACHEL MASON: Thank you very much.
WARREN HUSS: Well.