ALAGNAK LODGE HISTORY
Founded in 1980, the Alagnak Lodge has gone through many upgrades and improvements over the years. When you visit, you will appreciate the challenges of building and operating a lodge in the wilderness, and we are always grateful for the spirit of adventure displayed by the lodge founders.
One of the best locations in Alaska
In July 1979, Randy St. Mary from Everett, WA, Vin and Dick Roccanova from Sacramento, CA, and Bob Prehall camped on the Alagnak River. They were impressed with the fishery, they had fished at other lodges in Alaska, but the fishing on the Alagnak was the best they had seen. They were less impressed with the camping, having to fight mosquitoes and always looking out for bears, so they decided to set up a more permanent camp so they would have a place to stay and fish.
Randy and Bob both made trips to Anchorage where they talked to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and discovered that Alma Peterson had a privately owned piece of land on the lower river. In 1980 they signed a ten year lease on Alma Peterson's land. They had decided by this time to build a lodge rather than a camp, and loaded a barge in Seattle with building materials, boats, motors and generators. Everything was unloaded onto a grassy bank and they were able to get the heavy items hauled up the bluff to the construction site. They noticed the rising tides, but a flood tide took them by surprise and took their tents and some supplies. With a crew of 14, construction started in May that year and was completed in time for the first guests to arrive on July 4th.
Getting the word out.
Under the management of Bob Prehall, the lodge didn’t see many guests in that first season, mostly friends and journalists whose job was to spread the word about the fishing on the Alagnak. Spread the word they did, as the next summer saw 152 guests at the lodge. In 1984, with fishermen now heading to the Alagnak River in numbers, Van Hartley established Branch River Air Service, and has been flying guests to the lodge ever since.
Years later, a survey found that the lodge had been built in the wrong place, not quite on the land that was being leased. Faced with having to sign an expensive new lease, instead the lodge was moved to its current location and the land was purchased from Alma Peterson.
“Beautifully placed lodge, nice people, best guide in Alaska.”
Willi from Switzerland