Also near the old Fort Kenay location are four other cabins. The picture from 4 Aug 2007 shows three of them. From left to right are the Three Scandinavian's Cabin, Cabin #3 and Miller Cabin. The first two were built between 1898 and 1925 and subsequently moved to Old Town. Little is known about their origin or history. Miller Cabin was built in 1910 by Emil Ness and was originally located in Kasilof. The logs were numbered, dismantled and barged to Old Town in 1930. It seems that it was common to move houses in Alaska, especially in the old days. Kenaitze Chief George Miller lived in this house in the 1940's; thus the name.
There was also an unmarked cabin near Saint Nicholas Chapel on Petersen Street. At first I thought it was the Oskolkof/Dolchok Cabin but that turned out to be Veronica's Coffee House and Cafe. I'll just call it the Unknown Cabin for now. Wish I knew its history; it looked very old. There was another log cabin (boarded up) on Overland Street near the Visitors' Center. It looked newer and had been very nice at one time. I'll include it here also.
I found out in June 2010 that the unknown cabin was an outbuilding of the Edelman/Petersen house. "The building in the foreground is known as the Edelman Outbuilding. The house built by my great-grandfather, Finlander Ed Edelman, is in the background. He lived in the home with his Native wife, Demnina, and brood of eight, the youngest being my grandfather, Ed Edelman. The home was later owned and occupied by Jack Edelman, who lived in it with his daughter, Shirley, and his mother, Nina (Demnina). The home was eventually sold to the Allan and Jettie Petersen family and transferred to their grandson, Jim Arness, who currently owns it." Thanks, Rene!
At the end of the Sterling Highway is the town of Homer. Many people know this place because it seems whenever bald eagles are featured in documentaries or reports, they go to Homer. The number of bald eagles in the winter on the spit is astounding--taking all the eagles I've seen in my life (including in southeast Alaska where they are numerous) doesn't add up to the amount I saw one morning in Homer. This town is cute and sizewise, it seems to go on forever down East End Road. Homer is noted as one of the best art towns in America but I can see it as one of the best small towns overall. There's lots to do here, no matter the season. I'm going to keep this tip kind of brief because I'm sure later this year we'll get back down there and spend enough time in the town for me to build an entire page. So here are basics...the main attraction is the Spit, a long thin gravel bar in Kachemak Bay. This is where the eagles are...there's also boat harbors, restaurants, fishing areas, bars and a beach. In February it wasn't very cold there at all--about 40F. In the town, there are cute cafes, plenty of restaurants, hotels and pretty much everything you'd want. Great views of the water, mountains and glaciers can be seen from East End Road and when you come into town on the Sterling Highway. The link below this gives you a list of the things you can do and what you can see and give you an idea of when you need to and how long you need to stay to accomplish those things. Definitely, definitely visit Homer.
The Kenai River is a very famous fishing river that has its headwaters in the upper Kenai Mountains and flows into the This famous fishing river originates in the Kenai Mtns creeks and streams that flow into the Cook Inlet. It is one of the best-known fishing areas in the state, famous for its salmon and trout. There are some serious fishing regulations and closures all throughout the river region, so you'll have to check with the locals to see exactly where you can fish. I think it would be worthwhile to get a guide, because I was unable to catch anything on my own. Good luck, I hope you catch a huge salmon!
If you're visiting the Kenai area then it's a must that you do some fishing, after all, this is probably the most famous salmon and trout river in the world! Fishology Alaska is a locally owned guide service, very friendly & helpful, and can get you on the fish. Don't leave the Kenai without booking a fishing trip (May-November).
My sister had a guidebook with her when we were at the Old Town of Kenai, and she read about the distinct architecture of the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church.
It was however already 8 PM and for sure the church would be closed, but my sister still dialed their number! LOL - surprisingly someone answered and curious why were calling - my sister just asked for directions. He was not able to open the church for us, but we were able to take pictures outside.
The church has become a National Historic Landmark and is nice white and blue structure, a replica of the Russian Orthodox School of 1900. It was built in 1967 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia (remember the very low price of about US$7.5 million - what a deal!)
As you walk into the Visitors Center there is a white board with the day's activities and an information desk with people to assist you. The front lobby area also includes things for sale if you want to shop a little. In the afternoon a local author, Chris Jenness, was doing a book signing for his children's book, "Sammy Goes Home." It's about a salmon named Sammy and its adventures.
There are three Russian church buildings in Old Town Kenai. The church itself was originally established in 1791 and the current building was constructed in 1894. Russian Orthodox services are still held there every week. The Parish House Rectory dates from 1881. The third building, the Chapel of Saint Nicholas, was built in 1906. It is named after a priest, Father Nikolai, who is remembered because he brought smallpox vaccinations to the area.
The Interlocked Moose Horn Club / Tomrdle House is a historic hand-hewed log structure that was completed in 1902 but portions are said to date back to 1848. It is now a private residence. In the past, it was the first social club in Kenai, as well as a candy store, theater and church. The Interlocked Moose Horn Club evidently had many famous members in the early 1900's. Its objectives were the preservation of game on the Kenai Peninsula and the entertainment of big game hunters. Hmmmm, wonder how that worked. "Interlocked moose horns" sometimes happens during the rutting season when two bull moose battle, resulting in the eventual death of both. There are many interesting stories about the Interlocked Moose Horn Club.
The Old Town Kenai walking tour includes the Kenai Commercial Building. It was built in 1948 and was originally located in Kasilof. It was barged to Kenai and used by E. Wells Ervin and Helen Jones to sell groceries and dry goods. Their slogan was... "buy on credit, pay after fishing."
There are good views of the Kenai River mouth and tidal marshes from the Erik Hansen Scout Park, which is on the bluff above the river. It was rainy and foggy the day I was there; otherwise, there would have been good views of snow-capped volcanos and maybe even could have seen whales.
The cabin is in its original location and is a good example of what the early buildings in Kenai looked like. It was built in 1918 and is near the Chapel of Saint Nicholas. Also nearby once stood the original Fort Kenay structure, Russian Redoubt Nikolaevsk (1791), and later the American Fort Kenay (1869). The Oskolkof/Dolchok Cabin is now Veronica's Coffee House and Cafe, a great little place to stop for an espresso. It also has an open mic night at 6:30 PM on Thursdays, and blues, classic rock and Hawaiian folk music at 6:30 PM on Fridays.
The main hall had an exhibit of local, mostly contemporary art. The lighting was well done. I especially liked a sculpture made of antlers and the way the shadows complemented it. I don't know if the giant tangle that some fisherman pulled in was art or part of the museum, but it was fun to see.
The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center actually has a quite nice museum and there is no charge. It includes preserved examples of local fish and animals, as well as Native and Russian artifacts. It takes some time to visit this museum. It seems small but there are lots of interesting things in it. I'll also have to do separate tips on the art exhibit and cultural center aspects.
He was given the name "Moosemeat John" because he hunted moose to feed his 13 children. John Hedburg originally homesteaded in Nikiski. His Kenai house, which sits across the parking lot from the visitors' center, is now the Chamber of Commerce. BTW, I did not see any moose there, but it is pretty close to the Burger Bus!
Traveling westbound toward Kenai, shortly after the Skilak Lake Loop Road, you'll see a sign to turn onto Swanson River Road. It's a lot like the Skilak road but we thought it was in a slightly better condition. However, we did go when things were still iced up so the road could have just been better for that reason. Anyway, this road takes you to Swan Lake Road--used to get to the canoe trail routes of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Along the way, there are numerous lakes for fishing. In the early spring, no one was out there and we used some of the (very snowy) trails to get down to the frozen lakes. Even if you aren't into fishing or paddling, take some time and go down Swanson River Road. There are campgrounds and trails and it's a good place to maybe spot some wildlife.
You should probably be aware that you need to follow the road to Swanson River landing and not be confused by the gated road a few miles from the end. This area borders private oil fields. Believe me, you don't see them and they don't distract from the lakes, the road and the canoe trails. And there's no way you'd accidentally wander into this area, either.
The drive on Swanson River road is 17 miles of gravel but it seems to go pretty fast. Beyond that, Swan Lake Road leads another 12 miles to the east and continue on if you are using the canoe trail or want to camp out here.