49 Voices: Tom Huddleston of Copper Center

Tom Huddleston of Copper Center (Photo by Erin McKinstry, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Tom Huddleston in Copper Center. Huddleston owns and operates the Copper Center Lodge, which has been in his family for 70 years since they bought it from the Mt. Edgecumbe school.

Listen now

HUDDLESTON: In probably about 2000, my wife and I, as our kids were getting older, we were trying to figure out how they were going to get a work ethic. So we decided  to start looking for a business to buy, so the kids could work in it in their teens. My aunt called me up and asked if I’d be interested in the lodge, and that’s where we went. We bought the lodge in 2002, and my brother Pete, Kimberly, myself and all my kids, we got it up and going and it’s been going ever since.

We don’t have any taxes here, which is really nice. I mean, I don’t know what it’d be like to have taxes because I’ve never had taxes. But I hear plenty about it. And we’re free to add on to our homes or do stuff without having to go the city inspector and all that. We don’t really understand that, but we hear that and I’m glad I don’t have top deal with that.

I think I live in the best place in Alaska because I’m centrally-located. I’m 100 miles from Valdez. I’m like 260 miles from Fairbanks. I’m 180 miles from Anchorage. 150 from Palmer. I’m kinda right in the middle, it works pretty well.

There are a lot of stories about this place. There’s the haunted stories of the ghost. I have not seen the ghost. There’s been lots of strange happenings going. I know people that have seen the ghost. I know people that have heard the ghost. I’ve seen lights come on. I’ve seen doors left open, doors locked. Keys missing, keys reappearing. All kinds of stuff. And we just kinda attribute it to the ghost.

There was a guy that was in here not too long ago, kind of a slick-looking fella, and when he found out that I was the owner, he asked me what my number was. And I didn’t understand what he meant. I told him I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. And he asked what I wanted for it. At that point right there, I realized that this is my grandparents’ lodge. It’s not my lodge. Just out of respect for those people, and what they did to me, who were there for me in my life, I don’t want it to leave my family. I want it to stay right here.

a portrait of a man outside

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

Erin McKinstry is Alaska Public Media's 2018 summer intern. She has an M.A. from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and a B.A. from Knox College. She's reported stories for The Trace, The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Harvest Public Media, the IRE Radio Podcast, KBIA and The Columbia Missourian.

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