Photos from Gakona, Alaska taken in 1993.
Cleo McMahan was born on a farm in Kansas in 1912 and he came to Alaska in 1939 on the SS Yukon. He started flying while living in Fairbanks in the early 1940's. He married his wife Daphne in the 1940's and they homesteaded on Meier's Lake in the Copper River Basin near Gakona, Alaska. They came into Gakona in the winter so the kids could go to school, but in the summer Cleo worked as a big game guide, bush pilot, and bounty hunter. He trapped year round and loved flying. His daughter, Sally McMahan Pollen, wrote a book about him called Papa Was a Bush Pilot. Cleo McMahan died in 2005. For more about Cleo, see his obituary in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper or read an article about him in the Juneau Empire newspaper from 2001.
Henra Sundt came to Alaska in (1928?) and moved to Gakona, where she married Arne Sundt, who mined near Slate Creek. Together they began to operate the Gakona Lodge and Trading Post. A Norwegian immigrant, Henra had to teach herself English while acquiring the diverse skills needed to live in this harsh environment. Her husband's untimely death in 1949 thrust her into the position of working alone to raise her children and run the roadhouse, which she did with great success until she sold it to the Strang family in 1979. The lodge is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the Lodge was purchased from the Strang's by Valori and Greg Marshall.