Alaska Homestead: Living in a Cabin up North

A homesteader shares their story of creating an Alaska homestead in a hand-built cabin, includes crops to grow, information on public domain subsistence homesteading and foraging opportunities when living off the land in Alaska.

| May/June 1978

Learn about a reader who moves to an Alaska homestead to start a new life in a hand-built cabin.

Homesteading in Alaska, the pamphlets will tell you, is finished. Gone. And it's true, in the sense that the government will no longer "give" you a tract of wilderness for an Alaskan homestead under the old Homestead Act. But the older, more traditional way of getting back to the land (i.e., subsistence farming on public domain acreage) is still very much alive and well here in the 49th state and I guess we ought to know. We know, because we're creating an Alaska homestead of our own.

Don't get me wrong, a homesteading in Alaska isn't an easy — or a particularly romantic — way of life. To make it up here the way we're making it, you have to work hard and forgo a good many "frills" (such as electricity and forced-air heating). But public domain subsistence homesteading is as viable in Alaska today as it was even before the Russians owned this land. In fact, it's probably easier now to make it here (thanks to some of the less obtrusive tools of technology) than ever before in history.

The typical subsistence setup is very basic. Ours centers around a compact one-room cabin made of squared-on-three-sides logs that we simply stacked and spiked together. Construction of the dwelling was uncomplicated and took minimal planning. Because of its low ceiling, our cabin requires comparatively little wood to heat it during severe winter weather. For light, we use a gas lantern.

Our inside furnishings can best be described as "simple". The cupboards, for instance, are neatly disguised as discarded gasoline boxes. Bunk beds are built right into the lodge's walls and our "closets" consist of nails driven into those same log walls. (Anything extra is stored in cardboard boxes under the beds or put outside in the cache.) The cabin's windows are plastic film attached loosely so that — in cold weather, when the "panes" shrink — the plastic won't crack. (For storm windows, we merely add another layer of the film.)

We pack our water in from nearby Kuskokwim River, which — so far, at least — is still pure enough to drink. (All told, there are probably less than 100 people living on the 100 miles of river above us.)

Jason wild
5/21/2018 2:29:55 AM

I am 35 years old interested in the cabin bush life. If any old timer needs help in exchange for letting me stay in their old cabin and knowledge of life there please email me. I can also but a cabin on your land if I get permission with the little bit of money I have saved up. Jason714n@gmail

Jason wild
5/21/2018 2:15:44 AM

Hi, I Jason 36 years old and are really interested in the Alaskan cabin life. I have live off grid and are not afraid of a hard life. Was wondering if any old timer needs help in exchange for letting me live in their old cabin and knowledge of life there. Or let me build on their land. I have money saved but not enough to buy land and think it's better to ask to build on someone's else's land in exchange for help. Please email me if you need someone to watch your land, help you work or just company in your acreage. All i need is a tiny space near a river for a cabin or to stay in an old cabin. Jason714n@gmail

Jason wild
5/21/2018 2:15:15 AM

Hi. I am Jason 36 years old adult who would love the Alaskan cabin life. If any old timer needs any help in exchange for a place to stay at your old cabin or I can build a cabin on your acreage. I don't have money to buy land but only have enough to start a life up there. Willing to work and help someone who needs help in exchange or knowledge and rights o stay on land. Preferably near a river. Please email me

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