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  • Writer's pictureLynn Lovegreen

Busia Cabin in Kantishna

Recently, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places added the Busia Cabin to the nation's list of "historic properties worthy of preservation." The Kantishna area, at the end of the current Denali National Park road, was a big mining area from about 1900 to the 1940s. Johnnie Busia was one of the last miners from that time, and his cabin is one of the few remaining buildings from that time period.

I saw the cabin when I was doing research for my book Gold Nuggets. I stayed In Kantishna for several days and scouted out many locations and details that would help me describe the miners and others in the district.

A staff person at one of the lodges recommended a gentleman who knew the local history. He welcomed me into his home and told me some great stories, including some about Johnnie Busia. Busia immigrated from Croatia and moved to Kantishna around 1918. He was one of the few year-round residents. In addition to his mining vocation, he was considered the "mayor of Kantishna" and hosted many visitors. His cabin was the social center of the area, and he was well-loved.

The local historian asked if I wanted to see Johnnie Busia's cabin. I said "Sure!" So we got into his rusty pickup truck and he drove us across Moose Creek.

Then we went up a few miles to the cabin. Back then, it wasn't restored, just an old cabin without any markers or suggestions of why it was important. But it was cool just to be there and know who had lived in that place. (I wish I had a photo to share, but I can't find one now.)

By the way, I am not recommending that you jump into vehicles of people you don't know and let them take you somewhere. I probably shouldn't have done it myself. But in this case, it gave me a glimpse into Alaska history.

I'm glad that the cabin will be there for others to see. Our history, our stories, need to be preserved. That's one reason I write YA historical fiction, to pass on these stories to others.

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