Tanalian Point was the first settlement south of Port Alsworth on Lake Clark's southeastern shore. In it's heyday during the first 50 years of the 20th century, it was a bustling hub for trappers, prospectors, and travelers.
The Dena'ina word, Tanilen Vetnu, means "flows into water stream" and describes the Tanalian River flowing into Lake Clark at Tanalian Point. The first known Euroamericans around Tanalian Point were C.T. Brooks, H. Von Hardenburg, and Harry Hicks who prospected Kasna Creek copper deposits between 1901 and 1906. Tanalian Point was first documented as a 2-cabin settlement, also known as Walker's Camp, in 1909 by U.S.G.S. explorers G.C. Martin and F.J. Katz.
During the summer of 1910 J.W. Walker, O.M. "Doc" Dutton, and Jonah E. "Joe" Kackley moved from Old Iliamna to Tanalian Point to build their camp. The Trefon Balluta family moved from Kijik and built cabins at Tanalian by 1911.
Tanalian Point was settled because it provided abundant subsistence resources of fish, game, and fur, rich soils for gardening, straight trees for construction, and birch for firewood. It was a handy spot for prospecting on Kontrashibuna Lake, Portage Lake, and the Bonanza Hills.
The Early Years: 1911-1929
During the 1920s Tanalian Point became a Lake Clark base for trappers and prospectors (such as Jack Bailey) and a home for the Trefons and Dutton and Kackley. Tanalian was even counted in the 1920 Federal Census with 10 permanent residents.
In 1921 Tanalian Point served as the jumping off place for the first known sport hunters who came to Lake Clark for big game, including Colonel A.J. Macnab and F.K. Vreeland from New York City. In 1925 other big game hunters came from California and hired Anton Balluta to guide them north on the Telaquana Trail.
Meanwhile, Dutton and Kackey and Mary Ann Trefon were growing hundreds annually of pounds of garden truck in fish-gory fertilized soils and storing it in root cellars for winter-time use.
The Later Years: 1930-1949
During the 1930s the younger Trefon children married and moved away, but Mary Ann Trefon stayed on until she moved to Old Nondalton about 1940. Each summer until the 1950s Mary Ann returned to Tanalian with friends and grandchildren to put up salmon.
Joe Kackley died after fighting a house fire at the Denison's in 1944, and Doc Dutton died in 1949 at the age of 90. With the departure of the founders from the stage and the arrival of bush pilot Babe Alsworth and his wife Mary in 1944-1945, Tanalian Point was eclipsed by the newly-founded settlement of Port Alsworth. The new village, with its 1,500-foot runway, was better suited to the modern age of air travel.
To download a poster about Tanalian Point click here.
If you go...
Did You Know?
The glaciers of the last ice age retreated from Lake Clark National Park and Preserve 14,000 years ago, and the earliest archeological evidence of people in the park is about 10,000 years old.