Sourdough Cabin and Naming a Mountain

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This month’s photo is of a log cabin located on the north side of Matanuska River, east of Palmer, a mile or so past the narrow spot in the river where the steel road bridge would later be constructed in 1934. The original owner and date of construction of the cabin are not clear, but is thought to have been owned by Eugene Marsh at some point.  The log frames at the right of the cabin appear to be pens for holding foxes, likely during the 1920s or early ‘30s when fox farming was a profitable enterprise throughout much of Alaska.  

The prominent white mountain behind the cabin has been known by a variety of names over the years.  We are still searching for a record of a Native name for it, and don't how it may have been referred to by early homesteaders, but folks associated with the beginning days of the Matanuska Colony sometimes referred to it as “The Horn” or “The Matterhorn”.  

History researcher Joe Lawton found the June 26, 1942 edition of the local “Valley Settler” newspaper reported that some locals called the mountain “Cow Horns,” while others called it “Granite Mountain”.   The paper reported that a week prior to that June 26 date a local minister, Herman Edward Beyer, had made a 17 hour clime to the top of the mountain where he erected a rock cairn and placed evidence that he had reached the top.  It is believed that Mr. Beyer was the first person to have climbed the mountain. Subsequently, the mountain was commonly referred to by folks of the region as “Beyer's Peak” for many years, and many still do.  In conversations between pilots who routinely use the Palmer airport, the name “Pilot Peak” is sometimes used for the mountain as it is a common reference point when approaching to land at the airport.

In 1969 the U.S. Geological Survey bestowed the official name of “Matanuska Peak” to the 6,093 foot tall mountain, deriving the name from the Matanuska River which had been noted on maps since 1879.

Explore the Rich History of the Matanuska Valley

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