History of the Chugach Area
In the early 18th century, various bands of the Ahtna Native Americans lived in the Copper River Valley and adjacent Chugach Mountains. The Tonsina-Klutina band were known as traders between the interior native tribes and the Euro-American traders based in Prince William Sound. There was a well known aboriginal trail commonly used by all natives and explorers between the Cook Inlet and the Copper River.
In the late 1700’s Alaska was under Russian authority. The Russians attempted to establish trading routes from Prince William Sound into the interior, but were met with much resistance from the natives in the area.
In 1867, the Russians sold the United States the Alaska Territory. The United States only had a limited military presence until 1884 when Congress passed the “Organic Act” which provided the 1st civil government in Alaska.
In the late1800’s gold was discovered in Alaska. During the gold rush of 1898, 3,000-4,000 people disembarked in Valdez which was founded in 1897. They traveled over the Valdez-Klutina Trail over the Valdez Glacier down the trail to the snowfields continuing to the Klutina Lake all the way to Copper Center. Several of the gold miners actually crossed over the glaciers into Manker Creek valley. You can still see some of the relics that these miners left behind more than 100 years ago.
In 1899, Copper was discovered in the Wrangell Mountains. The Alaskan gold rush slowed down as the Copper mines flourished, emphasizing the Copper River travel corridor which later became the Richardson Highway.
Manker Creek was named after the man that 1st settled at the current location of the Chugach Wilderness Lodge, Edward J Manker. Manker was part of the late 1800’s Gold Rush Era.
Earl E Payne filed a land patent in 1979 to obtain the five deeded acres. The patent was issued on the Headquarters Site Act Statute 1364 which was established March 3, 1927.
The lodge has been a hunting lodge for the last fifty years. The lodge previously known as Majestic Mountain Lodge was renovated in the mid 1980’s by the Chadd family as they expanded the facility with an additional five cabins. The Lodge was purchased by the Chugach Wilderness Lodge LLC in mid 2006 to expand beyond hunting to emphasize the unbelievable wilderness adventure in the area.