Evolution of Katmai Lodge on the Alagnak River
In 1979, the foundation of what was to become Katmai Lodge began on a native allotment just down the Alagnak River from its present location. Local residents of the area, John and Mary Tallekpalek of Levelock, had previously built a cabin along the Alagnak River and graciously allowed the previous owners of Katmai Lodge and a few fishing guides to utilize their small home as a base camp. The Katmai Lodge guides scouted the area heavily for the prime fishing locations as well as the best site for the permanent lodge.
In order for a larger facility to be built, a new lease for the land needed to be obtained from the Levelock Village Council. In 1980, a lease was negotiated for the present site where Katmai Lodge now stands.
With the lodge’s remote location, receiving basic materials was a challenge in itself. All building supplies, equipment, and food were delivered in a container by barge from Seattle to Naknek, Alaska. Once the materials were delivered to Naknek, another barge was used to drop the container at the Alagnak River where the boats at Katmai Lodge would make numerous round trips from the lodge in order to make sure all the materials were delivered safely. These trips were huge, yearly events that required around-the-clock effort from the Katmai Lodge staff.
The first 3 buildings that were constructed were the Main Lodge, the Sockeye Lodge, and the kitchen. Our traditional Main Lodge has been preserved and kept intact through great care and effort. Recent additions to the Main Lodge include the Katmai Pub and an updated fly-tying area.
Over the years, 18 buildings have been added to the Katmai Lodge facilities with 8 guest lodges that now make up our present location. The Sockeye, Rainbow, Eagle, Brown Bear, Grayling, and Osprey Guest Lodges, have all been completely renovated in 2014 and 2015.
Since Katmai Lodge is only open during the summers for guests, a caretaker is needed during the winter. The lodge employs year round caretakers, not an easy task in the harsh Alaskan winters.
As Katmai expanded, the need for a gravel runway became greater and in 1993 with the larger amount of guests visiting the lodge the need was met. Previously, guests were flown in via floatplanes that would land on the river in front of the lodge and guests would exit the plane from the main dock. The runway now allows for supplies and guests to be flown in by wheel or floatplane.
With the expansion of Katmai came a change in ownership. California native Ernie Duncan, a longtime guest, purchased the lodge and continued to provide excellent service and great fishing experiences to the lodge’s guests. Due to health issues, Ernie sold the lodge to his friend, previous Katmai Lodge guest of 25 years, current owner and avid fisherman, Robert Follman in November of 2014.
Great changes have already begun at Katmai Lodge but the same “home away from home” feel will be preserved. Katmai Lodge continues to provide great fishing and wonderful memories to all who visit.