“New Chugiak post office building opens”
From the Knik Arm Courier, Dec. 14, 1960:
An open house was held at the new Chugiak post office building last Saturday, Dec. 10, 1960.
A special cake, which was an exact replica of the new building, had been baked by Mrs. F.S. Lee, of Swanee Slopes, and was served with coffee to the guests and patrons.
The post office, which normally closes at noon on Saturdays, remained open all day; and despite the icy roads, a large number of people attended.
The original post office in Chugiak opened on Aug. 1, 1947, at the Moosehorn Trading Post with Marie McDowell as postmistress. Present postmaster Paul Swanson recalled that the name of the community had been selected at a meeting of the Community Club when a number of names (among them “Bear Paw” and “Moose Run”) had been suggested. The name that was selected, Chugiak, was selected by Henning Johnson, who formerly lived at mile 18 ¾. Mr. Johnson said that he had found this spelling of the Chugach Mountains on an old map, and that one of the Natives of the area had translated it to mean “place of many places.”
The name has turned out to be most appropriate of the community, as the separate areas of Eagle River, Birchwood, Peters Creek, Fire Lake, all of which now compose the community of Chugiak make it indeed a “place of many places.”
Postmaster Swanson compared the growth of the post office by remarking that in the first quarter that it was in operation in 1947, it took in a gross sum of $17.62. This year, for the same quarter gross of the post office was $2,575.95.
The post office was moved from Moosehorn to Swanee Slopes in 1955 when Paul Swanson became the postmaster.
Swanee Slopes is the local name for the area across the Old Glenn Highway from the old Chugiak Elementary School. Paul Swanson, who owned that property, was often referred to as “Swanee.” Mrs. Lee was Paul’s sister, better known as “Pen Lee,” and famous for her baked goods.
This column is provided by the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 688-4706.