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 reached the age of 82.
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 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