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Duane and Sanna LeVan, Part 2

This is a continuation of an interview with Duane and Sanna LeVan by Don Callaway, Rachel Mason, and Karen Brewster on April 9, 2010 at their home in Seward, Alaska. In this part of the interview, the LeVans talk about the various ways in which they have used the Exit Glacier area both before and after the road was put in, cross-country skiing and hunting, changes in Seward, their thoughts about the establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park, and they mark uses and features on the map.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2010-05-01_PT.2

Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Apr 9, 2010
Narrator(s): Duane LeVan, Sanna LeVan
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Don Callaway, Rachel Mason
Transcriber: Carol McCue
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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1964 Earthquake

Use of Exit Glacier before there was a road

Snowmachine operation for tourists on Exit Glacier

Hunting in the Exit Glacier area

Airstrip along the Resurrection River

Sanna's childhood memories of Christmas

Seward as the central shipping point in and out of Alaska

Cross-country skiing towards Exit Glacier

Sheep hunting

Goat hunting

Marking first route of Exit Glacier road on the map

Lost Lake trail

Marking moose hunting areas on the map


Caterpillar tractor at upper Russian Lake

Thoughts about establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park

Marking location of Taylorcraft (T-craft) airstrip on the map

Proposed hydro-electric projects and Seward's source of electricity

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DUANE LEVAN: -- they built a bar and the earthquake hit, and it was all a plywood building, just hunks of plywood on the outside. And they said it was just nothing but sheets of plywood floating around. Downtown. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Well, I just remember people telling me that the first things to come back after the earthquake were the bars, and they were built these just like shacks. DUANE LEVAN: Oh, yeah.

RACHEL MASON: And operating out of them. DUANE LEVAN: They still had the land, so then they built right back where it was. SANNA LEVAN: Henry's it is now. DUANE LEVAN: Now it's Henry's now, yeah. SANNA LEVAN: Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Solly's we call it. DUANE LEVAN: We got a friend that was in the boat harbor in his boat and rolled over the breakwater and back again. During that tidal wave.

Yeah, his boat went over the top going out, and he was over the top coming back and nothing happened to him. RACHEL MASON: He just got a boat ride. DON CALLAWAY: He was lucky.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. It must have been wild.

KAREN BREWSTER: So before the road -- before the road was put into Exit Glacier -- DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- it sounded like people in town really didn't go out there very often? DUANE LEVAN: No. No.

KAREN BREWSTER: When you were growing up here, you didn't go out there at all? Or people you knew go out hunting there or anything?

DUANE LEVAN: I -- I don't know. I don't think probably -- well, like I say, there was always a couple, three guys that trapped up the valley. SANNA LEVAN: They always told you if there was any ptarmigans down there. DUANE LEVAN: Wintertime -- wintertime trapping. SANNA LEVAN: I remember that.

DUANE LEVAN: But other than that, guys would go up there and shoot a moose once in a while. Like I say, they have that little strip right up there where the park -- or where the glacier is, or by the glacier. And outside of that, no.

People seen it going by, they'd fly by in a plane, there's a lot of traffic, people fly up and down the valley there going to the other side of the Peninsula, there's a natural way to go.

And a lot of times there was a natural way to go to Anchorage even, because you go through there and then you go through Russian , and then you drop over and go over through Jean Lake and you're right on the flat country and you're into Anchorage.

You know, I mean, it's a natural way to travel. So people went by that area, but as far as stopping, a local guy or two tried looking for mines, you know, mining up there and that a little bit. But --

SANNA LEVAN: Our -- our place that we really liked the best was travelling up to Lost Lake. DUANE LEVAN: Oh, Lost Lake country, yeah. SANNA LEVAN: Hiking up the hills. DUANE LEVAN: The high country up there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was wondering, Sanna, when you were a kid growing up, did people talk about Exit Glacier and going up that? SANNA LEVAN: No. I never remember it.

KAREN BREWSTER: It wasn't called Exit Glacier then anyway. DUANE LEVAN: No. It was just a glacier. KAREN BREWSTER: Just a glacier. SANNA LEVAN: Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: You know, in fact, I don't know what year, but it was in later years before -- well, before it was a park, of course. But it was at later times after I was here that anybody even talked about an ice field. SANNA LEVAN: Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: Really. And then a couple of local guys that had planes got into it and they put a little shack up there. Up on the ice field. DON CALLAWAY: On the ice field?

DUANE LEVAN: And they took a snow machine up there to travel around. In fact, the last I heard, the snow machine was still there somewhere.

That they lost it. You know, I mean, it just snowed under before they could get back to it. And big snows. They didn't realize what kind of snows happened up in that country, of course, you know.

But they were flying just local people up there sight seeing just around the cabin. RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. So they would fly around and then stay in the shack, or what --

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. You don't -- you know, you can't tell her where you heard it, though, okay? RACHEL MASON: Oh, I won't. DUANE LEVAN: Because you know somebody -- RACHEL MASON: I do know somebody. DUANE LEVAN: -- who's been there. She spent a night up there.

RACHEL MASON: That spent a night up there. DUANE LEVAN: Okay. SANNA LEVAN: Yeah. Yeah. DUANE LEVAN: Yeah, you know somebody. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. DUANE LEVAN: Can't use any names.

DON CALLAWAY: What year was that, that -- what years? SANNA LEVAN: Oh, gee.

DUANE LEVAN: Gee. I -- I can't think if it was before -- I always try to relate stuff before and after the earthquake. DON CALLAWAY: Uh hum. DUANE LEVAN: Possibly after. DON CALLAWAY: Uh hum. DUANE LEVAN: I'm just not for sure.

DON CALLAWAY: But in the '60s? DUANE LEVAN: Or maybe it was before. Yeah. DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. In the '60s? DUANE LEVAN: Might have been '50s or '60s. DON CALLAWAY: '50s or '60s.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah, got a local pilot had a -- had the idea, and he went up there, and like I say, he took that one snow machine up there with him. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Who was that pilot? DUANE LEVAN: That was --

RACHEL MASON: Oh, that certain person told me the name, but I've forgotten it, too, but I've got it written down somewhere. DUANE LEVAN: Keith Knighten. I think -- RACHEL MASON: No, it --

KAREN BREWSTER: Or Joe Stanton? DUANE LEVAN: Joe? Maybe it was Joe. KAREN BREWSTER: Joe? I don't know. It was a question. DUANE LEVAN: We've flown with Joe a lot. He's a good friend of ours. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah. I can't remember. But there was -- DUANE LEVAN: I was thinking Keith Knighten, but possibly not, then. You're saying -- RACHEL MASON: Maybe it was Keith Knighten?

DUANE LEVAN: That's who comes to my mind is Keith. RACHEL MASON: Okay. DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. But he's here, by the way. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, I thought it was somebody who has passed away now. SANNA LEVAN: Oh, now, the one that had the -- no, he didn't have any business like that, though, that -- that cracked up so many times and stayed --

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, I've got it written down somewhere. SANNA LEVAN: -- and stayed out in the -- oh, gosh, I can't think of the name. It's terrible.

DUANE LEVAN: Stayed out where? SANNA LEVAN: He stayed out at his cabin that we looked in where you were going to get some wood from him. About mile 24. DUANE LEVAN: What mile? SANNA LEVAN: 20 past, in that area. It has that house back there. And there was a pilot. Flip's father.

DUANE LEVAN: Oh, (Jack) Foldager? SANNA LEVAN: Yeah. DUANE LEVAN: No, no, it wasn't Foldager.

KAREN BREWSTER: The name Jim Arness, was he a pilot? DUANE LEVAN: Who? KAREN BREWSTER: Jim Arness. DUANE LEVAN: Arness. No, Arness is from the other side of the Peninsula. Yeah.

RACHEL MASON: Yeah, I can't remember names, but -- SANNA LEVAN: It's so funny, yeah.

DON CALLAWAY: How about hunting back up in there? Was there -- I mean, you talk about moose and so forth, but were there any guides take people back in there to... DUANE LEVAN: Well, local pilots, you know, they were -- SANNA LEVAN: In the Peninsula. DUANE LEVAN: -- in a way guides, like Bill Schuster was a guide. Not Bill Schuster. Gentry. Gentry Schuster. SANNA LEVAN: Gentry Schuster.

DUANE LEVAN: Gentry Schuster had -- SANNA LEVAN: That's way back. DUANE LEVAN: -- an airline outfit out of Seward. S.A.F.E. Way Airline. SANNA LEVAN: S.A.F.E. Way Airline. DUANE LEVAN: S.A.F.E. Way Airline. SANNA LEVAN: That goes way back.

DUANE LEVAN: And he did guiding and flew people around a lot. Because I remember one time he hit -- well, he didn't do it on purpose, he set a plane down up there in the river.

Something happened to the plane, and it was above the glacier and in the creek where it's coming down Resurrection Creek.

RACHEL MASON: Maybe it was Joe Stanton? DUANE LEVAN: It was -- she said Joe Stanton? RACHEL MASON: It might have been. DUANE LEVAN: Okay.

RACHEL MASON: Because I have it written down -- DUANE LEVAN: Okay. RACHEL MASON: -- "adventure on top of ice field with Joe Stanton." DUANE LEVAN: Okay. Boy, I wouldn't argue with that. No. I know. SANNA LEVAN: Oops. Oops. DUANE LEVAN: I wouldn't argue with her.

RACHEL MASON: I didn't say any names.

DUANE LEVAN: But Bill Schuster -- Gentry Schuster set his plane down up there, and he was alone, and he had this moose meat he was hauling out for a guy from Cooper Lake and that's a clear water stream up above the glacier.

You know, well, west of the glacier. And anyway, he took that meat and it was in meat sacks, and he sunk all that meat in the creek. DON CALLAWAY: Underwater. Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: Underwater. And then he walked into town. And it was two or three days later or longer before guys got back in there, and that meat was in perfect shape. But this is fall.

DON CALLAWAY: It was preserved by the cold water.

DUANE LEVAN: But the ice cold water, that's what I was getting at. That's the first time I ever heard of anybody ever trying to do something like that. But he saved that whole moose in there.

But anyway, he flew up through that country a lot. But I don't know, some of them guys, undoubtedly they're on that little strip and set people in there for hire, you know. SANNA LEVAN: What did our neighbor fly us in, that lived across the alley?

DUANE LEVAN: Oh, that's the little lake the other side of Lost Lake going west. SANNA LEVAN: Oh, that's right. DUANE LEVAN: There's a little lake up there on top. Ptarmigan hunting. We was in there one winter.

KAREN BREWSTER: But you said there was an airstrip right along the river below the glacier?

DUANE LEVAN: It's -- that airstrip set -- my memory, if it's right, like where the road is now after you go across the river, that airstrip, I think, should have been to the west of that road just a little. That's where my -- I, it seems to me that one. DON CALLAWAY: Is it -- is it --

DUANE LEVAN: I landed with a guy one time downstream right below where the bridge is, when I went in there that time when my dad was there. DON CALLAWAY: Right.

DUANE LEVAN: We set down on the sandbar about from here to the road from the alders, about that width, with a Super Cub.

Right -- and skimmed right in there and landed on the sandbar right there, yeah. But that strip was over the other way further.

DON CALLAWAY: And was that a Taylor aircraft flew in there or it was named Taylor -- DUANE LEVAN: The guy that had it -- put it in there had a little Taylorcraft airplane out there, Taylorcraft.

DON CALLAWAY: And that's why they call the strip Taylorcraft? DUANE LEVAN: Taylorcraft strip. DON CALLAWAY: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did other people use it besides him? DUANE LEVAN: Oh, I'm sure they did because there were a couple Super Cubs around. You know, there weren't many but there were a couple Super Cubs around.

DON CALLAWAY: And what -- what decade or year was this? DUANE LEVAN: Well, see, that would have been -- well, it would have been in the '50s or so when I was with my dad, yeah.

In there. So that was in there before that. I don't remember what year it would have been there.

DON CALLAWAY: And when did your dad homestead? What year did he -- DUANE LEVAN: 1950. That's why I was saying '50 because it was before that he was still living here when we -- he was working on the railroad here at that time. DON CALLAWAY: Okay.

DUANE LEVAN: He was still working for the railroad.

DON CALLAWAY: Any other striking memories you have of your life here that you'd like to tell us about? DUANE LEVAN: No, pretty quiet. I don't know.

SANNA LEVAN: Growing up, growing up a big excitement for us as children was when the Christmas boat came in. I mean, many other people have talked about that because --

DUANE LEVAN: Well, see, we had steamships, passenger ships come in here, Alaska steam passenger ships, summertime twice a week and wintertime once a week. So they'd come in. You know, that's the way people got to Anchorage was on that ship, most of them.

SANNA LEVAN: And then we -- they'd bring plenty of stuff for the kids. That was really nice. I remember that.

And then when it was getting close to New Year's, everybody was all excited about a costume for the New Year ball, and it was everybody went, children and parents and -- and that was a big thing.

DON CALLAWAY: Tell me about the Christmas ship. I'm not familiar with it.

SANNA LEVAN: Well, they set it up every Christmas, and I don't remember what boat it was. DUANE LEVAN: Well, it would be whichever one was coming.

SANNA LEVAN: Whatever one that was coming. And everybody knew it in town, and they were right down to the boat, and they opened up the boat for the kids to come on, and they gave them sacks, candies, presents, everything.

It was really, really fun. And we really appreciated that. And some of my dad -- and as my dad had the bakery, he had a lot of friends on these boats because he baked for the Westward, too.

And -- and some of my recollection is talking to these skippers or whatever they were, is they'd stop in for a cup of coffee.

And I remember one old fellow, and it was so funny, everything -- he was not that old, but he seemed old, because anything that went wrong with him -- Sammy Shucklin, I think that was his name -- and he'd say "it's my age. Smy age".

DUANE LEVAN: See, in that time period, it was -- SANNA LEVAN: It was nice meeting all these people. DUANE LEVAN: It was so much different, shipping and that, like everything's air now practically.

Everything basically for northern Alaska and westward, with the exception of a small amount of freight going through Valdez to Fairbanks, come through Seward. SANNA LEVAN: Yeah. DUANE LEVAN: All of it.

SANNA LEVAN: Gateway to Alaska. DUANE LEVAN: And we shipped and -- out of here, well, everything.

Westward shipped -- had a westward boat run out of here, the Expansion was its name.

Before that the Dora. And they run the Westward once a month, haul the mail out of Seward. And freight, you know, the freight that they could put on for people. That was a once a month boat.

It's the only place I ever knew -- of course, that will be getting back to with the railroad, but one thing we did do on the waterfront here that I never -- in fact, they said we were the only part around the whole West Coast, we handled United States mail.

In fact, first class mail. Right across the dock out there. We sorted -- we sorted it, not individual letters, but as a sack of mail going to Anchorage, going to wherever, the way it went into boxcars one piece at a time, by hand. DON CALLAWAY: Uh hum.

DUANE LEVAN: The same way going westward. We handled the gold shipments from north across the dock.

Worked 15 hour shifts, in the nighttime from midnight to 6:00, there was nobody on the dock but one old watchman keeping the fires going in the winter.

And there's a wooden box the express company, used to be an express company in those days, too, they had big, green wooden boxes about like that, locked up.

In there was a gold shipment. That sat on the dock all by itself waiting for the passenger ship to come in. DON CALLAWAY: Wouldn't do that today.

DUANE LEVAN: And then the guys used to talk about it because the sailors would tell us when that got to Seattle, when the passenger ship got to Seattle with the gold shipments, shut down the whole waterfront.

Except one crew went on the dock, opened that one hatch, took that one piece of cargo out, backed a truck on there to pick it up, and that was it. And then they went to work.

But they shut the waterfront down to take it off. But here it would sit for two or three days down there all by itself, you know, at nighttime, nobody around. But where would you go with it if you had it, you know?

KAREN BREWSTER: I was wondering as skiers, what's the skiing like going out towards Exit Glacier? Is that -- do people ski out there? SANNA LEVAN: Oh, sure they do.

DUANE LEVAN: Well, we don't like -- yeah, what we don't like is it's -- for Sanna and I, it's too mild, I guess. No, it's too completely flat. The first -- I was against that when I worked for the state, by the way.

They closed that first gate. I always wanted the state to keep going and go to the Forest Service gate which is the second gate. (Telephone rings.) SANNA LEVAN: I'll get it.

DUANE LEVAN: Go to the second gate, so that it's better skiing from the second gate up because you do have little bitty hills, and it's pretty nice.

And another reasoning is from the second gate up, and you'll find out right now, you can ski up there a lot longer than you can on this end because this end, a lot of times it'll rain from this end up to about that Forest Service gate, and then from there on it snows.

So the snow from there on is much better. In fact, it's better yet by the time you get to the river up to the glacier.

It's deep -- it's better snow, deeper snow. But anyway, that -- but they said, no, they wouldn't do it, they'd close it down at this end. Well, that's what you get.

But as far as skiers go, and as far as I'm concerned, it was better. The dog mushers like this, though. SANNA LEVAN: They go -- they like that. We had so much fun going from the other spot because it wasn't too far we could get clear to the glacier.

DUANE LEVAN: From this -- oh, yeah, well, just going up the valley, yeah, if you had the right conditions.

KAREN BREWSTER: So now people ski on the road? DUANE LEVAN: Oh, yes. SANNA LEVAN: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: On the closed road.

DUANE LEVAN: What it is, what people do, modern people, with -- with skate skiing, they love that road. SANNA LEVAN: It's got to be groomed.

DUANE LEVAN: Because they groom the snow, they'd be like -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, they do groom it? DUANE LEVAN: They've got a groomer up there and they groom that road. And it's beautiful for --

SANNA LEVAN: You should see them go. They can really go fast. DUANE LEVAN: Skate skiing, I wish I could, but no.

KAREN BREWSTER: But so, before the road, the people would ski up there? DUANE LEVAN: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No? DUANE LEVAN: Never see a skier up there. SANNA LEVAN: We snowshoed -- DUANE LEVAN: No. SANNA LEVAN: -- in those days.

DUANE LEVAN: No. Or walked up the valley from this side, but see, the road ended right -- the old road, that new road wasn't there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. DUANE LEVAN: Ended right at Seavey's. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. DUANE LEVAN: That was the end of the road right there.

KAREN BREWSTER: And the -- the conditions just weren't -- I mean--? DUANE LEVAN: Oh, no. And there weren't that many people really around Seward that went recreationally cross country skiing, really. SANNA LEVAN: We didn't pick that up for --

DUANE LEVAN: There was a few. I mean, there was -- like, there was some downhill skiers used to pack up into the bowl on Marathon and things like that. But as far as just that type of skiing, no, there weren't that many, really. Just a few.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you can't travel -- can you travel on the river in the winter but either --? DUANE LEVAN: Oh, there -- SANNA LEVAN: You have to be careful.

DUANE LEVAN: -- most of the river stays open in the winter. You can get around it by what you've got to find is ice bridges. You get enough, you know, freeze up, and then you'll get some ice bridges.

So you can -- like, that's how we've walked up there years ago was wander around, you know, you'll come to an area and there's a little ice bridge and you take it and you know. So.

Otherwise, we go out, like, Snow River out the road, the other side of mile 12 up the valley there, back in that country, and get away quite a ways up in there. Same way, though, looking for ice bridges. But it's something else to do, though.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then, people go sheep hunting out there? DUANE LEVAN: No. The closest sheep -- the closest sheep to Seward is -- and I don't -- there are hardly any -- well, there was a few left.

There's a small band that lives in Paradise, up Paradise Lake, they range on the north side of the valley there.

They go into Victor Creek through one of those, and then they go over towards Ptarmigan Lake through another valley up through there, back in that area. There's a few sheep there.

A few sheep at -- well, there used to be, and I haven't seen them for I don't know how many years, there was a few sheep up in -- on the mountain, we called Black Point, it's across Kenai Lake.

You get this side of the ranger station, you look down the lake to the west, the Black Point, timbered point right there.

It'd be -- you look in there and you're looking down the lake towards Cooper Landing, and it'd be on your left side, and that mountain that sticks up there, in that valley there, there was a few sheep.

We always suspected that they probably swam across from Crescent Lake area. But there's sheep in Crescent, a few.

KAREN BREWSTER: I know in earlier times, was there sheep up in the Resurrection Valley up there.

DUANE LEVAN: There's still, yeah. And in fact, not too many years ago, there was still some sheep up closer would be like go up to Boulder Creek.

Yeah, I think Boulder Creek would be the one, and go towards Lost Lake up on top there, going, and then that would be -- connect you with Cooper Lake, and that range there would be the mountains south of Cooper Lake, up in that area right there, there was a band of sheep in there.

And then the sheep -- there's some sheep that come over onto the ice field, I'm told. I've never seen them but there are local guys that have seen them that told me about them, have seen them clear out on -- they have a name for it, the mountains that stick up in the ice field.

The type of mountains they are that stick up in the ice field. There's a --

KAREN BREWSTER: There's a geological term for them? DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I don't know what that is.

DUANE LEVAN: Anyway, up on those, there's been sheep seen on those coming from Tustumena Lake side, there's quite a bunch of sheep over at Tustumena Lake.

But other than that, well, to the saltwater, or down this way, the closest is out -- there were, a large number years ago, they had said at Wolcott, that's at mile 18, this end of Kenai Lake there, that Tust -- going up Paradise Valley way, there used to be a lot of sheep in that country.

RACHEL MASON: What about goats? Are -- DUANE LEVAN: A lot of goat around here locally. RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah?

DUANE LEVAN: Oh, yeah. In fact, the goat population over the years, we always watch goats. And there -- there's a lot more goats than we had for a number of years around here. A lot of goats.

I don't know what Exit Glacier is now. There was a nice band in them cliffs right there above where the buildings are. And I don't know what they're doing anymore. I haven't kept track of them.

But right here locally out of the canyon behind town, what did we have? Seven, eight? Over here on the face of Marathon every spring here lately coming out of the canyon here. DON CALLAWAY: Huh.

DUANE LEVAN: And then across the valley, there's... They have a tough life. I don't understand how they possibly make it. DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. Me either.

DUANE LEVAN: Well, this time of year now, see, they have the kids in the last part of May, you know, and their food right now is down to practically nothing. They're eating on old alders, you know. I don't know how they live. Pretty tough.

RACHEL MASON: Do very many people hunt them? DUANE LEVAN: No. Everything now in goats, line of goats on the Kenai Peninsula is all by permit. RACHEL MASON: Oh.

DUANE LEVAN: And they keep track. And they only allow so many permits for -- for each area.

And then we have, of course, this large area here now, the park area, and that, of course, is all closed. And then there are some more closed besides the park, the area here from town going north, that's closed.

So there is -- but they keep them permits down pretty low so they can keep track of what's going on.

And they have it set so they can shut the season down if they -- if they deem it has to be shut down, they can do it. DON CALLAWAY: Right. Right.

DUANE LEVAN: So everything is that way. Same way with sheep, of course, is all permit.

DON CALLAWAY: Well, do you want to do some maps?

KAREN BREWSTER: Sure. You've just described it all, now we just have to put it on the map, right? DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Sure.

DON CALLAWAY: What -- what's going to be the best way? Do it on the table I think would be best. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: I was thinking maybe what you were talking about that -- when you first put that road in on the south side around Mt. Benson -- DUANE LEVAN: Well, I didn't but --

KAREN BREWSTER: -- where that was? Yeah. And how people used to use that side to try and get --

DUANE LEVAN: Right. Well, here's the road -- the road right here goes up to the garbage dump, comes out of here, goes to the garbage dump.

DON CALLAWAY: You can draw on it. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, you can draw right on it.

DUANE LEVAN: Well, then it -- then you'd follow along here, but about here somewhere when they tried to put it in, this is about the area off of Mount Benson that that slide I was talking about that come down. DON CALLAWAY: Oh, sure. Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: Well, they got to that slide and they discovered that that wasn't the way to go up the valley.

So in those years, we could go along and keep going along this side here and go right up this side. Where are we now? We're up to -- up to Paradise Creek, yeah.

And stay basically on this side all the way up.

And you have a couple of places where it's close to the mountain which you'd have to cross, then you could just keep on going right up here.

You can cross most of these stream here because it's so wide and braided, especially in the winter, you could go right on across here and then come clear across over onto the glacier.

And that would be Exit. Lowell.

RACHEL MASON: This here's Lowell, but this one they told me is Exit.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. Hmm. We got here. Here's the creek. Redmen Creek. Cottonwood Creek. Placer Creek. Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's got to be it.

But anyway, that -- that land here, then, it'd just -- you'd be right in here, then. RACHEL MASON: Right.

DUANE LEVAN: At the glacier. But you'd come off this side of the glacier. One over here, it would be up in this side, right over in here. Getting to there.

KAREN BREWSTER: So that was a winter trail?

DUANE LEVAN: No, there was no trail. Just people went up that way, you know, I mean, no trail at all because if -- it would be basically for winter because -- and some guys went up that way in the falltime, moose hunting, you know, September like that.

So it was open for summer. But then the wintertime, no. And then they built the other one. The other one, oh, let's see, we're -- the road went up across Resurrection.

Now, where am I here? (in background) SANNA LEVAN: Yeah, isn't that neat?

DUANE LEVAN: There's the railroad.

These come back here.

Well, now, where it goes up here, what I was going to show you here, see, the other side of this creek right here, where the -- the Pit Bar is, this is Clear Creek, I think.

The road went the other side of Clear Creek, around this swamp area here, and then come back and hit here. And then stayed over. KAREN BREWSTER: You can draw it. If you --

DUANE LEVAN: But see, Glacier Creek, then -- so it would have had to have been -- hmm. Yeah, there's something wrong there.

KAREN BREWSTER: These are old maps, too. DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. This isn't --

KAREN BREWSTER: So it may not be what it actually looks like now. DUANE LEVAN: That isn't showing that right there. Because anyway, where the read goes now, is -- hmm.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is this the -- is this the current road?

DUANE LEVAN: No, I can't see much -- yeah, this is the road, Exit Glacier road where it is now, going right up through here.

But it used to end up clear down, oh, just after you got on it here a ways.

But all this in here, I don't -- I don't get this.

This here where it comes -- this come out of Lost Lake.

Yeah. Because -- not Lost Lake, it don't come out of the lake, it comes out of this side of the lake, comes down where it crosses the road right here, but where -- and it does cross the road right here somewhere, but they -- they got the other channel of it here. Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, this? DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. See, that -- that creek there comes -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

DUANE LEVAN: -- it don't come out of Lost Lake, it comes from this side of the lake. It drains the country about a couple hundred feet this side of the lake here. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: Because there's some high ground in there. KAREN BREWSTER: That's Lost Creek and this just comes from that little lake up here.

DUANE LEVAN: Right. This is from that little lake, and that little lake is just this side of the -- KAREN BREWSTER: And it has it split into two.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah, so this split here is the one then that goes under the road, where the first cement bridge is on Exit Glacier, it goes under there.

Well, then, the old road, that's what I was wondering, it was back -- hmm.

RACHEL MASON: Now, this map is from 1997, the one that you're on. DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. What it is now.

RACHEL MASON: This is 1951. DUANE LEVAN: Right. Oh, yeah. RACHEL MASON: So it --

DUANE LEVAN: Well, this one here because, yeah, she said it don't even say Exit Glacier.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's interesting that you said that people used to use this south area. DUANE LEVAN: Oh, yeah. Anybody that.

KAREN BREWSTER: So why did they build the road on the north side?

DUANE LEVAN: Well, basically, like I said, this one area right here, Benson -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right, they couldn't get through there.

DUANE LEVAN: -- on Benson Mountain there, they come to where this slide comes down off of the corner here. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum.

DUANE LEVAN: And in fact, if you go up there right now, I bet you, just as you get -- well, no, you can't drive through there.

Well, you can even see it from where they've got the gate probably, looking northwest, that you could see where that big slide comes down. It's that close to the --

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And so that's what blocked them?

DUANE LEVAN: That's what changed their mind and moved them to the other side of the valley.

And that's why it went to the other side of the valley, that whole thing there.

But then the Lost Lake Trail, the Lost Lake Trail, they put in a -- a winter trail.

Yeah, they put the winter trail up here, too, yeah.

The Lost Lake Trail, it's divided clear down here, and right here is the divide.

And our summer trail, always, this goes way back.

Forest Service at one time was going to try to keep from working this end of it, and I got together with a couple different guys, Doug McRae, in fact, and a few more of us, and we insisted that they keep our end of the Lost Lake trail open because this end had been opened, we could date it back to '27 -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

DUANE LEVAN: -- that the trail was in.

And they wanted to do -- what they wanted to do was eliminate this end here and cut down on expenses and just do the Primrose end, the north end into there.

So anyway, then, we got that done, but then some local guys, like I was saying, put the winter -- what they call the winter trail. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that snow machine -- Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: And the winter trail goes up, and that is the only practical way to get you up on top. Because -- KAREN BREWSTER: Is that marked down here?

DUANE LEVAN: It's -- it's on here. Yeah. The winter trail.

But the thing is it gets you away from this steep mountainside that's along here that comes from the south, and it avalanches along there.

So they was looking for a way so you could get up into it, and it was a real practical way.

So that's -- that's what the winter trail was put in for.

Before that, there was another trail used to come in, oh, clear down here. Let's see.

Grouse Creek. Grouse Creek comes across right here.

There was another trail used to go in the country from about in here and climb up on top and get on top into Lost Lake right there.

But anyway, up at Lost Lake, then, where Sanna and I went, where we went a lot for -- for hiking and spending nights, we'd go around here, and there's no trail, we'd come to the lake here, and then we'd go around this side of the lake, the south side of the lake, and come back in this country here, and go over here in this little lake here.


DUANE LEVAN: And then stay in there and then we'd go hiking, hiking back into this country here.

This is Martin Creek, it comes down into the Glacier Creek the first one -- let's see, it should be -- I think this one right here.

No. That comes off of this one. KAREN BREWSTER: Martin Creek. Right here.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. And then Martin Creek -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. Right there. DUANE LEVAN: -- see, comes in right here. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: I always thought maybe a guy could go up through Martin Creek. And I think Bill -- Pat O'Leary, Forest Service, Pat O'Leary?

I think he's went up through there. But it's real steep trying to get into that country that way.

But that's a real nice area there for -- for hiking and that.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about when you were moose hunting? DUANE LEVAN: Oh.

KAREN BREWSTER: Where did you go?

DUANE LEVAN: Well, see, it was -- it don't show much here, but it would just be this flat country.

See, this is that big, black on -- I want to say black -- the timbered ridge before you get to the bridge on the Exit Glacier, on the right side.

Well, this flat country below the -- below the glacier is a lot of willow brush in that, and that's where we hunted.

In later years, guys got so they are going up this valley; now they go up the valley and hunt way up in here with horses. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

DUANE LEVAN: And they go up and then hunt on the Forest Service side KAREN BREWSTER: Who does that?

DUANE LEVAN: -- of the river. One guy that I know hunts in there a lot, he's got two horses, Bob White, lives here locally, he hunts in there quite a bit.

That's where most of the guys trapped years ago, would have been in this flat area or the face of the glacier, and just above the glacier, mostly.

Because that narrows down, and there are more animals in that country.

KAREN BREWSTER: What are they trapping for?

DUANE LEVAN: Well, some of them were after coyote. There's mink in there.

There's marten in there. Beaver. There's some big beaver ponds up in that area through there.

All the way up clear up in the -- towards Russian Lake.

They took one time and took a Caterpillar tractor from this end and walked it clear up there because the glacier at Upper Russian was dumping the water into Russian Lake,

upper Russian Lake, instead of coming this way, and they took a Cat and -- took an old Army Cat and took it clear up in there and then they left it there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is it still there?

DUANE LEVAN: As far as -- I think the last I ever heard it was still up there, yeah. And they diverted that and put it back to where it belong coming this way so the water would run this way, so that glacier water didn't get into the clear water at Upper Russian.

KAREN BREWSTER: And it's held?

DUANE LEVAN: And it held. Yeah. Gee, I don't know, that would -- that would have had to have been at least in the '50s. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. I bet that was -- but I'm sure, yeah. Maybe earlier?

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have any thoughts about the park having been put in, and if that's made any difference around Seward?

DUANE LEVAN: Well, I -- I had kind of mixed feelings about it at the time.

I didn't know about what was going to happen.

But I guess it did, it did help the town.

I mean, it did, no question about it. And today, I think from what I understand, what I said before there, moneywise, they are putting more money into town, the people that are hiring are getting more pay than the local people that they are having to hire. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

DUANE LEVAN: So that's good. And it's year around jobs. In a small town, if you can get 10 or 15 year around jobs in a town like Seward, well, you're doing good, I think.

KAREN BREWSTER: So why did you have concerns about it?

DUANE LEVAN: Well, restrictions on it, a lot, yeah. I mean. And some of the people like that were -- their self were thinking about it. I was never into mining, but it shut down that completely.

Of course, it shut down hunting.

And in that period of time, too, there was two things going, or another thing going against it was the fact that people like myself that subsistence life style a lot, we was getting shut down all over Alaska.

I mean, there was parks everywhere you -- you know. I mean, that's what was happening to Alaska. We was becoming a big park.

Really. I mean, we ended up with more park land than a lot of states have got land, in -- in Alaska.

And like I say, I was never a miner, but it was cutting those kind of people out and different things.

But then, I don't know, the way that everything else is going, like I say, they did end up they hired more people here and built facilities and stuff.

So it's -- it's worked out, I guess, you know, for the better.

There's several businesses that's made good off of -- off this park has come here, you know, because it's a park. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

DUANE LEVAN: And in fact, like you were saying, how many people went up there, well, we're telling you nobody went up there, and they made it a park, and the minute they name it a park, well, then, thousands of people go there.

You know. It's that way, it is what it is.

But parks as such, well, the park people are finding out themselves that there are bad parts of parks, because you're getting more people there than what you really want at one time, and they are running into some big, big problems on a lot of them.

And even you notice it at Exit Glacier where we walk there practically every summer and walk up, you know, around it, the little rolling parts and that.

And I noticed there that parts are wearing away, even though they do have trails around.

So, I mean, but it can't be helped. If you're going to put a thousand people in there a week or whatever, well, you're going to have -- some deteriorating has to happen. So anyway, I had kind of mixed feelings about it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Don, were there any other things you wanted marked on the maps?

DON CALLAWAY: The Taylor airstrip, the Taylorcraft airstrip.

DUANE LEVAN: Well, as far as I can tell you on this, as far as I can see the way they've got it here, I think it probably was close into -- yeah, it had to be close into here somewhere.

Right in that area there. DON CALLAWAY: Okay. Can -- can I label that, just --

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah. That's about as close as I can come to it. DON CALLAWAY: That's good. That's fine.

DUANE LEVAN: Because, see, they don't -- I'd have to look at my other map.

Where am I at here? I can't even find it. Right -- right here is Exit Glacier, and the creek comes down out of the glacier. See, the only creek comes out is way over here.

Well, that strip would be right in this area here. DON CALLAWAY: Oh, okay.

DUANE LEVAN: It would be upstream from where the road is.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you want to mark it on that map? DON CALLAWAY: Well, that's his map. KAREN BREWSTER: No, on my map.

DON CALLAWAY: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe this is a better map.

Is that easier to find stuff on, do you think?

DUANE LEVAN: Holgate, Holgate -- way up there somewhere. DON CALLAWAY: Quite a ways up. KAREN BREWSTER: There's Exit.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah, the Exit Glacier, I would say -- see it would probably be over in this area here. DON CALLAWAY: Okay.

DUANE LEVAN: It would be north of this road. DON CALLAWAY: Okay.

DUANE LEVAN: I'm sorry, west of the road. When you cross the creek. DON CALLAWAY: Right.

DUANE LEVAN: West of the road when you cross the creek. Yeah, that would be where it would be at.

But like I say, this one creek here, this Paradise Creek is where a lot of their water comes -- comes because it comes off all of these places here, plus way up into this.

KAREN BREWSTER: I heard that they once proposed a dam for hydro electric in that Paradise Creek area. DUANE LEVAN: Never heard that one.

KAREN BREWSTER: Back in the '50s. DUANE LEVAN: Hmm. I'll be darned. Don't know it. The only --

KAREN BREWSTER: It never happened, but there was -- DUANE LEVAN: The only hydro one I ever knew of, I've got some maps on that, was at Lost Lake. KAREN BREWSTER: Hmm.

DUANE LEVAN: And they were going to dam -- there's a little lake on the east side of the big lake, where it narrows down, a small lake.

They was going to dam that off, and then run water down to the highway down by Grouse Lake to Seward.

And have a -- have a hydro project there, the city was going to have one there at one time.

And I don't know, it come up with -- they didn't think there was enough water year round or something like that, I think, the way they talked about.

DON CALLAWAY: So did you ask him where Seward got most of its electricity? KAREN BREWSTER: No.

DON CALLAWAY: Where does Seward get most of its electricity from now? DUANE LEVAN: Chugach Electric.

DON CALLAWAY: What have they got, diesel or -- DUANE LEVAN: Out of Anchorage. DON CALLAWAY: Oh.

DUANE LEVAN: Comes down here. It's a gas -- gas, yeah. They get a small amount, I understand from -- well, it's all hooked together now. Homer and Seward. DON CALLAWAY: It's a grid now.

DUANE LEVAN: Yeah, it's on a grid. And it comes -- but Seward buys theirs from Chugach Electric, out of Anchorage. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.