• Gretel Enck

Dick Proenneke's Cabin

Our purpose for visiting Lake Clark was to see the cabin built by Dick Proenneke. Born in Iowa, he worked as a farmhand and rancher before joining the Navy the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In 1949, he made his first visit to Alaska at the invitation of a friend. He lived and worked in Alaska off and on for years, making his first visit to Twin Lakes in 1962. In 1967, he had begun work on a cabin there. It was completed in 1968.

Although Proenneke's was not the first or biggest cabin built at Twin Lakes, it stands out for the remarkable craftsmanship that reflects his unshakeable wilderness ethic. The cabin was built using only hand tools, many of which Proenneke himself had fashioned. Throughout the thirty years he lived at the cabin, Proenneke created homemade furniture and implements that reflect his woodworking genius.

Proenneke had the foresight to film the construction of his cabin, intending to leave step-by-step instructions for creating a hand-built structure. He also kept detailed journals. In 2004, we saw on PBS a documentary called One Man's Wilderness that had been made about Proenneke using words from his writings and film footage he had made, including the remarkable construction of the cabin. When the opportunity to visit this site on our trip to Alaska, we couldn't say no.

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