Alaskan Homes of Ketchikan’s “Rich and Famous"
Lighthouse, Totems and EAGLES Excursions offers you a glimpse into the lifestyle of Alaskan families living on islands and waterfront homes along the first half of our tour route.
One of the most well-known islands in the local area and the mansion that sits on that island is owned by a man known as Mr. Wayne Spears. He started in a small one-machine shop in 1969 and now operates over 1,000,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities in four stated, nine distribution centers across the USA and worldwide product distribution to meet the needs of an ever-growing industry. He has earned his fortune by manufacturing PVC piping and valve products. Purchased in 1999, Mr. Spears resides on this Ketchikan island, along with his lovely gazebo, a helicopter hanger, a boathouse, and a very large yacht.
The harbor adjacent to the Spears mansion complex is known as Air Marine Harbor, where both airplanes and boats share the harbor space. Geographically, it is known as Refuge Cove because George Vancouver, a famous English explorer, first sought refuge here on one of his three voyages of exploration when a band of natives in dugout canoes were hot on his tail and he hid out in this protected cove while the natives paddled on by.
Long Island, a tiny island, is named after Tim and Kay Long who live there with their daughter, Micah are the caretakers for the Spears mansion gazebo, house, and boathouse. If you look at the largest tree on the near end of Long Island, 25 feet from the top you’ll see an eagle’s nest. This nest is located 25 feet from the top of the largest tree on the south end of this island. It has been an active nest almost every year since we began doing excursions past Long Island in 2001.
If you take a look at the Long’s beautiful home, it will surely remind you the “Swiss Family Robinson” home and lifestyle, which represents this family’s lifestyle in Alaska. On a neighboring tree, just north of the eagle’s nest tree, Mr. Long has mounted a video camera at a slightly higher angle than the neighboring tree’s nest. Now, he, his wife, and his daughter can watch the baby eagles hatch out every year. One commonality the Long house, Spears mansion, and other homes share is they all have a large, round, metal tank near their outside. These are rain silos that are used to store extra rainwater throughout the year.
The gazebo mansion is a prominent attraction on our tour route. It has an orange-colored, gazebo-shaped roof. Above this, up in the woods a bit, you can see a lovely picnic gazebo. The green building on this end of the mansion complex is the lady’s hobby and workshop. She acquired this mansion through what is a rather sad situation in her life. Her husband, a commercial diver, was killed in a commercial diving accident.
Oddly enough, for many years, the lady made routine, daily appearances on one of her balconies, wearing absolutely nothing but a negligee or a bathrobe while waving flirtatiously at the male patrons of Lighthouse, Totems and EAGLES Excursions. Though she is no longer there, perhaps if you can imagine her up there waving, give her a wave back. She remains a memorable icon of Ketchikan’s colorful history, and her waterfront mansion lives on as monument to her creativity and flamboyant personality.
The next home is a modestly sized log home with an orange colored roof that was built by a local minister named Arne Halverson. He must have had his prayer life in order because every single log it took to build his house floated upon the beach, including one giant cedar tree that so inspired Arne that he built his own bathtub out of it and it still remains functional bathtub today.
Next to Arne’s house is the most beautifully landscaped front yard in all of Ketchikan. The landscape is filled with a gazebo, waterfalls, statues, and manicured greenery that is truly spectacular to look at. This property had a very different look with the previous owner. That lady and her husband acquired a rare penchant for collecting and displaying bowling balls. She purchased every single bowling ball when Ketchikan bowling alley went out of business. They were all on display in their front yard along with her collection of pink flamingos! Not to be disappointed their new house is just up around the corner where their 100’s of bowling balls are now joined by abundant bottle trees and looking especially vibrant in our rain forest.
One featured mansion on our excursion route is a grey mansion with a huge garage door opening in front. The woman who lives in the grey mansion is a friend of our company. Her and her husband own the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, a gift shop in Skagway, and several gift shops here in Ketchikan.
While some of the first half of our excursion is along our “civilized” shore line there is no lack of eagle and other wildlife viewing opportunities. During the remainder of our excursion the coastline is much more primitive and certainly inviting to wildlife and visitors alike.