A Hidden Message

Image of a note, handwritten in blue ink.
One page note written by Mr. and Mrs. E.L. Bly on July 19,1952. This note was put in a small "Half and Half" pipe tobacco tin and enclosed in the stone fireplace.

A Craftsman Leaves His Mark

This handwritten note that was found hidden inside a fireplace 30 years after it was placed there. Between 1947 and 1952, Dr. Elmer Bly (Doc Bly), a dentist, built a house for his wife Maizie and himself in Port Alsworth, on what is today known as “The Point” in Hardenburg Bay. This house was one of the first houses built in the area. Doc Bly designed his house and helped Joe Thompson and Mike Vandegrift saw the logs and build the house. Elmer did much of the finish work himself—he was an excellent hobby woodworker and carpenter. In the living room, a granite stone fireplace was built. The stones for the fireplace were gathered from a small niche in Hardenburg Bay known to locals as Pike Bay. As it turned out, the 6-inch flue was not large enough to draw adequately causing the chimney to smoke. Doc Bly was very disappointed and consequently the couple did not use the fireplace often.
Image of green colored tobacco can reading "Half and Half"
Tobacco can that was found containing a note from E.L. Bly. Found in 1982.

"The Most Beautiful
Spot in Alaska"

Doc Bly retired and he and his wife eventually moved back to Anchorage. In 1957, he sold his house to Allen Woodward. Allen sold the property to the National Park Service in 1979, while Lake Clark was still a National Monument. The NPS began a major renovation of the interior of the house, with the intention of using the house as the park headquarters. By 1980, the fireplace was sinking below the living room floor and it was removed. NPS staff replaced the fireplace with a thin stone hearth and a wood burning heater. During this restoration process, on August 2, 1982, while removing some of the stones for the fireplace, maintenance staff discovered a small pipe tobacco tin inside the fireplace. Inside of that tin was a note, handwritten in blue ink by the Blys, 30 years before.

The note read:
“July 19, 1952.
This fire place was built by Dr. E.L. Bly of Anchorage, Alaska. Stones are from the cliff around the channel on Clark Lake.
Wondering if this note will ever be found and by whom.
We think this is the most beautiful spot in Alaska.
Mr. and Mrs. E.L. Bly”

The woodstove installed in place of the original fireplace is still used to this day, more than 30 years after it was installed. The house did become Lake Clark’s first park headquarters, however, its use again became a home—this is what the purpose of the house is to this day—residence for NPS employees and their families. Another generation continues to warm themselves by the fire in the most beautiful spot in Alaska.

Last updated: November 27, 2018