Proenneke’s Cabin is a remarkable homestead built singlehandedly in the Alaskan wilderness by a man whose staggering (and vastly admirable) devotion to self-sufficiency saw him even creating everything right down to his tools.
On May 21, 1968, Richard “Dick” Proenneke arrived at Twin Lakes, Alaska with a few simple hand tools, and the intention to build a simple homestead for his retirement. He was a highly skilled craftsman, known for his intelligence, adaptability, and work ethic. Throughout his professional career, he served as a Navy carpenter, diesel mechanic, sheep rancher, heavy equipment operator and repairman, and salmon fisherman. He was forty-nine when he began to build his lake-side home in which he would live self sufficiently until he had reached the age of eighty-two.
His modest cabin, now entrusted to the National Parks Service, was built nearly entirely from materials found nearby, and he documented its entire building process with a 16mm movie camera on a tripod. Much of this film has been combined with the text from his daily journals into the well-loved classic, Alone in the Wilderness, about this impressive endeavor.
Dick was also quite a preservationist, conscientious about what he chose to take and use. He has indeed left a rich legacy, an inspiration for all of us who share his aspirations:
“To live in a pristine land unchanged by man… To roam a wilderness through which few other men have passed… To chose an idyllic site, cut trees and build a cabin… to be a self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials available… To be not at odds with the world, but be content with one’s own thoughts and company…” - Dick Proenneke