Ok folks, let’s dress in our warmest clothes, put on our parka’s, scarves, gloves and lace up our snow boots because this month we’re heading north. Make sure that you have your favorite investigative tools loaded up, because here we go. We will be stopping at the Gakona Lodge and Trading Post in Gakona, Alaska.
Gakona, Alaska is located in the Copper River Valley in the interior of south central Alaska. It’s adjacent to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. It’s also 200 miles north of Anchorage.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]It is said that John stomps his feet and smokes his pipe in this room. Even though there has been a no smoking policy at the lodge for a while now – you can still smell the wafting scent of pipe tobacco in that room.[/pullquote]The Ahtna Indians have lived in this area for approximately 5,000-7,000 years. Gakona originally served as a wood and fish camp before becoming a permanent village for them.
Jim Doyle homesteaded the area in 1902 and in 1904, he built the lodge, an ice house and a storage shed. It became known as Doyle’s Roadhouse. The original building is still standing on the property, even though it is no longer in use. By 1905, gold fever had spread to the valley and prospectors were coming in.
Life in the cold harsh north was always unpredictable and there were always many travelers along the way looking for a hot meal, a warm bed or even a place to rob. There were even rumors that a notorious serial killer known as the Blueberry Kid was in the area and could have stayed at the roadhouse.
Doyle sold out in 1912. Between then and the 1920’s the roadhouse had passed through several owners, before finally coming into the hands of a Norwegian man and his wife, Arne and Henra Sundt. Arne died of a heart attack in 1946, and his wife continued on with the business until she finally sold the property to Jerry and Barbara Strang in 1976.
The Strang family were the first owners to report paranormal activity on the property. In the Springfield Sunday Republican on April 5, 1987, Barbara Strang told of a strange and unexplained event that had taken place at the lodge. According to Mrs. Strang, some of the kitchen workers were trying to contact a spirit that they thought resided in the room, when the power went out. Now, according to her, losing power is common, but she did feel that the timing was peculiar.
There is also a story about a man named John Paulsen. It is said that John was not only a customer, but a business partner as well. John always stayed in Room #5. It is said that John stomps his feet and smokes his pipe in this room. Even though there has been a no smoking policy at the lodge for a while now – you can still smell the wafting scent of pipe tobacco in that room.
If you should decide to venture north to Alaska and visit the Gakona Lodge and Trading Post…..if you ask to say in Room # 5…..and, if you ask nicely, maybe – just maybe, John will share his pipe with you, as he stomps his feet.