Back in 1976, from the blue prints of my dream, I started building Talaheim Lodge. With that first crude building built from logs and chainsaw cut lumber, my youthful dream would become a helicopter fly out Alaskan fishing Lodge. During the 70’s and 80’s, lodges in Alaska sprang up everywhere a fish could be caught. My choice of Talaheim’s location was along the Talachulitna River about 80 air miles west of Anchorage. Alaska fishing lodges are built in two fashions…by money investors or by knuckle busters learning by trial and era in the fashion I learned.
In 1976 I was armed with a 1946 J3 Piper Cub, a chainsaw, a few traps for income, and backed with a wife that couldn’t believe my dreams but gave me support. My first building went up like a kid building a tree fort.
Most of Alaska can’t be reached by road, so many Alaska fishing lodges like mine have to be reached by air. Everything from a toothpick to a gallon of gasoline has to be flown in. Larger cargo type single engine aircraft on skis are expensive to charter, so most of my lumber was cut with a chainsaw mill, a very tedious and backbreaking chore. We averaged about a board an hour, but most of our lumbers didn’t have to be flown in. In the early days, we lived off moose, fish, and the income from a few furs I managed to trap.
Span about 36 years and Alaskan fishing lodges have become high tech. To survive you must incorporate satellite Internet, web design, bush phones, elaborate fueling systems, and kitchen cuisine that mimics high dollar restaurants. I still love living in the wilderness and building with materials I’ve gathered locally. Today I manage with a real band sawmill, a tractor with a front-end lift, and snow machines capable of bringing in large logs over the snow. Not only do I save money, but also I enjoy working the land. Robert Service once wrote, “that it’s not the gold we seek, but the seeking of it”. For the past 38 years, my Alaskan fishing lodge has given me the opportunity of “living off the land” in a wilderness setting.