Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Exploring the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area: Alaska Rivers Company


Location:    Alaska River Company –  Mile 50: Sterling Highway

NOTE: Sharp, blind curve:  Suggest Approach from East. Leave to the West

Short Description: The area around the Russian River is covered with archaeological sites and house pits.  The house pit located on Alaska River Company private land is perhaps the best preserved that can be easily studied.  Because it is on private land special consideration MUST be made.

Required Equipment:

  • 2 Tape measures (20 foot minimum)
  • Clipboards with  graph paper.
  • 1 foot straight edge could help with drawings.

Suggested Equipment: Camera

Safety Consideration: The main consideration is safety of the RESOURCE and the BUSINESS.  Follow directions CAREFULLY.

Other Info: This is a private business.  Access MUST BE PREAPPROVED.


FIRST CONSIDERATION: Alaska River Company has given permission for groups to view the site however they MUST BE notified in advance (1-888-595-1226). This is a working raft/fishing company. Space for customers is very limited. Plan to keep visit succinct. Be mindful of the paying customers.

SECOND CONSIDERATION: This visit should be done in conjunction with a visit to the nearby K’Beq’ cultural interpretation site. It is suggested that students should first visit the Alaska River Site to try to explain the features of the house pit, then use a visit to the K’Beq’ site to compare findings.

THIRD CONSIDERATION: This is an example of superb stewardship of a resource. Although this house pit is in the middle of the businesses operations, they’ve taken special care to keep this site preserved. As a result, it is one of the finest examples of a house pit in the area. Help protect the resource. DO NOT COME WITHIN 3 FEET OF HOUSE PIT.

LOCATION: The house pit is located to the left of the AK River Company dock.

SUGGESTED INSTRUCTION: Again, NO ONE (teacher or student) should enter house pit area.

Keeping three feet from the house pit, lay down tape measures along two adjacent sides.

Using these tapes as guides, replicate the outline of the house pit on graph paper (before determine the scale (1 square = ___ inches/ft.). Measurements won’t be perfect; we want to get an estimation. These measurements will become more meaningful after students visit the K’Beq’ site and find out what the various structures were used for.

After mapping, try to imagine what the various structures were used for. Identify entry ways, sleeping quarters, cooking area, etc. How many people might this house shelter?

Before leaving, make sure to thank the people of the AK River Company for allowing access and for taking such good care of this important resource.