history

Most people know about the Kenai and Soldotna historical societies and museums.

Kasilof also has an active historical association. And few people know Kasilof's history better than the association's president, Brent Johnson. He’s our guest on this week's Kenai Conversation.

 

Central Peninsula Hospital is celebrating a half century in business this year.

But for a long time, the hospital was just an idea — one spurred by the central peninsula’s growing population but stalled over intense community rivalries and funding drama.

City of Seward

The abandoned residential school in Seward where the first Alaska flag flew will come down after the Seward City Council voted to demolish it.

The Jesse Lee Home, which has been abandoned since being damaged in the 1964 earthquake, has long been a source of contention in Seward. On the one hand, it’s where Benny Benson lived—the Alaska Native teenager who designed the state’s signature flag—and a piece of Alaska’s history. On the other, the building is a wreck, and efforts over the years to renovate it have never produced results.

Kenai Peninsula Borough

Monday would have been Marilyn and Hank Every’s 68th wedding anniversary. Hank died in 2014, but the day still brought a commemoration of their life together, the last 58 years spent on a lake in Nikiski, which is now a step closer to bearing their name.

“He wanted to name it Lake Marilyn after me. But you have to be gone five years before they’ll even consider naming it after somebody, so we just decided to use our family name,” Marilyn said.

Marilyn submitted a proposal to the Alaska Historical Commission to name it Every Lake. The commission agreed and the proposal now goes to the federal level. If it’s approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, Every Lake will appear on official U.S. Geological Survey maps.


City of Soldotna

Soldotna Memorial Park will see an expansion this spring, after the city council voted unanimously Wednesday to appropriate $300,000 on a design and construction project.

The cemetery was constructed in 2011 and expanded in 2015. There's plenty of space for cremains burials and the columbarium for cremains is only half full. But city Manager Stephanie Queen reported that there are no more standard plots left in the veterans section and not many available in the public areas.

"The demand continues to be high. We're at a point where we're now ready, and I would say it's fairly critical that we move forward with this next stage of expansion," Queen said.

In the 1960s, years before Central Peninsula Hospital and decent phone service existed on the central peninsula, residents of Kenai used to have to get themselves to a log house on Linwood Lane for medical services after clinic hours.

“People would come to the house any time day of the day or night,” said Dr. Peter Hansen. We did not have a good phone system then. And sometimes there would be several people sitting on the porch waiting to talk to the doctor or get their skin stitched up from lacerations or things like that. It was a good challenge and a bit of adventure, looking back.”

Hansen retired last year after 51 years of medical practice in Kenai, some of that time being the only doctor in the area. He stocked up a lot of memories over that time and a lot of equipment.

“Over my 50 years-plus of working privately here in a private practice, I’ve replaced all sorts of equipment at different times,” Hansen said. “I always kept the old stuff in case something broke down, something went haywire, then I could bring an old piece of equipment back in and use it until the new one got fixed.”

The Native inhabitants of the Kenai Peninsula before Western contact were masters at adapting to this land. Dr. Alan Boraas, anthropology professor at Kenai Peninsula College, presented “Yaghanen, The Time Before,” a discussion about the lives of the Dena’ina people who have lived and thrived here for a thousand years, to the Kasilof Regional Historical Association.

Join Bill this month for a beer year in review, preview of Alaska Beer Week and a look at the history and future of brewing in Skagway. Cheers!

Oct. 11, 2018: 150 years of Kenai Peninsula history

Oct 15, 2018

2017 was the sesquicentennial of the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The local history conference held that year is chronicled in a new book edited by Shana Loshbaugh, who joins us for this hour to talk about the Peninsula's more recent history.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Where there's smoke there's good beer flavor and let's hear it for the women in brewing history. Bill also checks in with Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer and get details about the Cooper Landing's plans to build a new brewery.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

How far back does your memory of Soldotna go? Do you recall the old two-lane Sterling Highway bridge over the Kenai River, before the current one was finished in 2007? How about the one before that, started in 1948, when the Alaska Road Commission was just beginning to push the Sterling Highway on toward Kasilof?

Al Hershberger does. That first bridge is what brought him to Soldotna.

Spring 2018: Historians of the Central Peninsula

May 1, 2018

The homesteader history of Kenai is the focus of this hour. Catherine Cassidy of Kasilof and Carol Knutsen of Kenai are Jay Barrett's guests and discuss their work keeping the homesteader history alive.

This is the Kenai Writer's Almanac for Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, featuring early land titles in Kenai, as well as “Shifting Seasons," a poem by Gaye LaRane, of Kenai, and "The Morning Commute," by Marilyn Wheeless, of Kenai.

The Kenai Writer's Almanac for Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, featuring a history of Binkley Street.

Also, “Last Rose of Summer," a poem by "Dave Thompson, of Kenai, and "Monkeyshines," by Brent Johnson, of Clam Gulch.

Fall 2017: Local stories stored on the page

Oct 3, 2017

On KDLL's special fall membership drive edition of Kenai Fresh Air, host Jay Barrett speaks with writer, editor and publisher Jackie Pels. She is responsible for a couple dozen books, mostly about pioneering Alaskans, including her mother, in "Unga Island Girl," the one-time "commodore of the fleet" of the Alaska  Marine Highway, Walter Jackinsky, in "Any Tonnage, Any Ocean," and the definitive history of the Jesse Lee Home in Seward, in "Family After All." She is also a member of the Kenai Territorial High School graduating class of 1953.