Special Picture # 304 – Rusty Huerlin – Influenza Epidemic in Alaska Conquered – 1945

The following article was printed in the Wilkes-Barre Record, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Monday, February 19, 1945.


Special Picture # 302 – Rusty Huerlin – End of the Trail – Tribute to A Pioneer – February, 1960

The following piece was printed in the column, On The Inside”, printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska) on February 3, 1960.

TRIBUTE TO A PIONEER – Rusty Heurlin of Berry, Alaska, has written an open letter to the citizens of Valdez, proposing that Mt. Sugar Loaf be named after the late Anthony J. Dimond.

He suggests this mountain for its gentle slopes and balance in simple contour, which made it one of the most photographed peaks of the early days and perhaps even yet.

Also, he says, if a play on words would not be objectionable, this mountain is quite similar in shape to that of a diamond when reflected into the Bay of Valdez.

“As there are many other such named mountains (as Sugar Loaf) the world over, little controversy should arise from the change …” Rusty says.

“At any rate we trust that the last request of Art Lutro’s will be honored to help perpetuate for all time the name of Anthony Dimond.”

Lutro, the late Grand President of the Grand Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska, proposed recently that an “unnamed peak” be honored with Dimond’s name. His request has been presented to the Board of Geographic Names of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Heurlin, who was an early resident of Valdez and next-door neighbor of Dimond, recalls his qualities of greatness and what he meant to fellow Alaskans. “Towering above all was a simplicity that was greatness in itself.”

Dimond was long a territorial delegate in Congress and later a federal judge.


END OF THE TRAIL – Rusty has also written this tribute to an old friend:

The going had been rough in places and the pack heavy but the uncomplaining Sourdough stuck to his lonely trail. At times the sleet pained his eyes, and it was hard to see when friends passed him as they hurried on their way. At the end of the day a light appeared around the bend of a river. Was it home, he wondered, or was he lost? He wasn’t sure until he arrived there, and not even then until the cabin door opened. He got out of his snowshoes. Old friends helped him with his pack. They called him into the cabin fragrant with wood smoke,,, happy with light and laughter and the warmth of those companions of old who had passed him on the way.

It was the End of the Trail for another sourdough. This time a man known throughout Alaska and Yukon Territory,  – big, good-natured, helpful and friendly Art Lutro, Grand President of the Alaska Pioneers.


Check out this video :  https://vimeo.com/91885957

I appears that the request of Art Lutro and Rusty Heurlin was honored as there is a Mt. Dimond near Valdez, Alaska.

Tomorrow, I will begin a week of letters written in July, 1942. Both Lad and Dan are serving Uncle Sam and receiving training.

Judy Guion

Special Picture # 245 – Rusty Heurlin in Alaska

For the next few weekends, I’ll be posting Special Pictures. These are photos that do not pertain directly to the letters I’m posting but are unique and interesting so I want to share them. Enjoy.


Rusty Heurlin, taken in Alaska


Life in Alaska – Kenai Peninsula and Homer Through Dan’s Eyes – September, 1941

The following article, published in a local newspaper in 1941, tells of a trip  Dan took to explore Homer and other Alaskan towns in the Kenai Peninsula.

Dan, Ced and car

Daniel Guion Discovers An Alaskan Town Where No Fuel Bill Ever Worries Man

A utopia where land is free, coal is scattered by nature like rocks along the beaches, “fat rainbows” abound in the streams and brown bear and moose in the hills – such wonders in the heart of Alaska, Daniel B Guion, now in an engineering post with the United States government air base at Anchorage, has discovered after 14 months of residence in Uncle Sam’s most northern possession.

A year ago last July, Guion, but recently returned from a similar assignment in the tropics of Venezuela, decided on an excursion into the opposite regions of the Americans. Second of the five sons in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred D Guion, well-known Trumbull residents, he found enthusiastic response in Cedric, the brother third in line, on his arrival in Anchorage.

Trio of brothers there

Only last spring, Richard, the fourth son, chose to follow in the same adventurist path, and at the present time, is also a federal employee at the Anchorage airport project.

DBG - Dan in Alaskan doorway-1940

Recently, Daniel left on an exploration trip to the Kenai Peninsula where he caught his first glimpse of Homer, one of the Alaskan spots still open to homesteading where, “virtually in our backyard since we came to Anchorage,” he writes, “is the paradise we’d heard about.”

In a graphic story of his travels,  he wrote of the Homer of Alaska to his parents: He says: “The reputation of Homer has always seemed much higher than could possibly be true, but upon seeing it, one is confronted with irrefutable evidence….

“Homer is one of the several places in Alaska still open to homesteading. It differs from the rest, however, in being situated in a country upon which nature has lavished every luxury conceivable.

“Land is free for those who wish to Homestead, and cheap for the man who wants to buy. By plane, Anchorage is only an hour and a half distant, and the CAA is building a landing field. Several miles of good gravel roads have been made by the Alaskan Road Commission, and it is possible that sometime in the future there will be a road connecting Homer to Anchorage and the rest of Alaska. When this happens, those who own property in and around Homer will be raised on a crest of prosperity beyond all bounds.

In summer in Homer, the moderating influence of the sea keeps the air pleasantly cool despite the long days of bright sunshine. In winter, the Japanese stream exerts the milding influences to such an extent that snow seldom stays long on the lowlands. Spring comes early, and autumn late. Rainfall is moderate throughout most of the year, and this ideal combination of elements promotes the growth of lush fields of hay and thick copses of berries without the aid of man. Celery, beets, peas, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and a variety of other fruits and vegetables thrive in the rich soil of the bottom lands. Fishing is good all year round. From the beach can be gathered clams and mussels.

DBG - Eklutna village home

As you may have heard, Cook Inlet has the second largest tide in the world (the Bay of Fundy being first). Coming or going, the waters flow as swiftly and turbulently as a mighty river. Sailing was delayed an hour and a half, the outgoing tide pushing the boat against the dock. After much maneuvering and clanging of bells, and pushing, and pulling of ropes, the ship, Monterey, was wheeled away from the docks. The first night was spent watching the northern lights and a few whales now and then but never very close.

Climbing up to land

Shortly after lunch we rounded the 7 mile long spot which projects out into the inlet to form a roadway out to a dock . . . the point of disembarkation for Homer. The dock is built of pilings a good 30 feet high to allow for the extremes of tide, so we had to climb a ladder to dock. A truck was waiting to take us to Homer.

After visiting Homer the ship Monterey sailed again, past the volcanic Augustin Island into the quiet waters of Kachemac Bay. With bright sun streaks across the gently ruffled surface of the Bay, the town of Seldovia, clinging to the precipitous edges of a rocky hill was seen. . . . .  A town of pilings and boardwalks below and cabins and cottages hugging the hills above.  . . . .  surmounted at the summit by a little, weather-beaten, square church with the bulging steeple of Byzantine architecture that was testimony to the Russian influence.

I would love to see the Alaska that Uncle Dan saw on this trip, if it still exists.

Tomorrow and Friday, another letter from Grandpa to the “Trio From Anchorage”.

Judy Guion


Life in Alaska – President Roosevelt’s Misguided Children – Aug., 1941

Ced and car - 1940 (3)-head shot

Monday, July eleventh

President Roosevelt’s misguided children:

As I hope you suspected, work has added up to such a degree lately that I have been unable to find time to write for the past two weeks. Naturally I’m sorry, but business is bizzness, don’t you know? Ach! Yes, ain’t it the truth.

Tonight I sneak a moment to whisper a few uninteresting and probably rambling thoughts on this, that and the foreign situation.

Dad – I’ve just exhumed your last three letters and will now take time to reread them   “bzzzz  bzzzzz” That’s done, and here are the items for your information:

Letter One

  1. A1 – draft – I see that Alfred is just about in and it’s my pity he has, but in case I haven’t told you, Dan and I are right in there with him. Dan’s number is 190, mine 202. As the first draftees are supposed to go into encampment on October 15th in Alaska, the original number set at 600 from Anchorage, it looks as though there will be a showdown daw gone soon. 190 and 202 are bound to be in the running, and deference is not likely in either case as far as we can see. Anchorageites will encamp here at Fort Richardson if drafted. I may land in San Quentin, hey hey.
  2. Don W –hotel – I have failed Don miserably so far, but if I get a chance I’ll make inquiries and send him a deserved letter on the subject.
  3. Talkeetna – Rusty’s new home is about 150 miles north of Anchorage on the Alaska R?R (excuse foolish punctuation please)
  4. Airview – that will come eventually, have patience, I haven’t forgotten.
  5. Carl’s bill – thanks for taking care of this, and I disciplined myself to the extent of looking up the old one and actually found it. It was way out of kilter with the new one, and I shall send Carl both bills with payment in full and also a blistering broadside on his questionable character. Just tell him to hold his hat.
  6. Recipe – I am ashamed of you father, for your seeming ignorance in the case of the boiling flour. Ruth and Louise got a great lot of fun at yours and Ruth’s expense. Even I knew as soon as I read your question on the item, that it should have been boiling water, not boiling flour. Ruth confirmed this amid tears of laughter. For clarification – 2 tablespoons full of flour and 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Put that in your oven and smoke it!
  7. Instrument rating – an instrument rating is the rating a commercial pilot has to have before he can fly an airplane equipped with instruments for blind flying. In Alaska, most of the flying is “contact” where the pilot flies from beacons and landmarks on the ground. Instrument flying is supposed to be possible without ever looking out a window from the time you set foot in the pilot compartment. Radio beams, signals and highly sensitive instruments accomplish all the necessary gathering of information to enable the pilot to take off, fly to his destination and land without so much as a glance at the exterior air or terrain. It is difficult to obtain an instrument rating for such as I because the pilot has to be excellent in astronomy, mathematics and two-way radio operation. So far I am poorly equipped on all three scores, and that is why I made the statement which caused you to inquire about the rating.

Letter Two

  1. Car tickets – thanks for filling out the car tickets for me, and keep up the good work. I judged from your report that you purchased two dollar’s worth in my name. Let me know if that’s wrong, and in the meantime I’ll send you a money order covering my monthly bit and this

The letter ends here and it appears that the second page is missing.

Handwritten note along edge of paper: By turning over this paper you may discover something which caused much gnashing of teeth and chagrin – Love from toodlumm

I don’t know what happened to the rest of this letter. The handwritten note along the edge of the paper refers to the fact that when Ced was typing this letter he had the carbon paper reversed so that the carbon copy is actually on the reverse side of the original.

Tomorrow, a letter from Rusty and then two letters from Grandpa to his son’s in Alaska.

Judy Guion


Early Memories of Trumbull (20) – Ced Remembers Rusty Huerlin

For some of the time that Ced lived in Alaska, Rusty lived with him and they became very good friends. They kept in touch and Ced and his wife were planning a trip to Alaska to see Rusty. He passed away a few weeks before their trip.

Rusty - Rusty at his painting cabin - 1979 (2)

Rusty Huerlin outside his studio

CED – Rusty Heurlin gave my mother a painting – it was a rather famous one – he was very fond of her. He was younger then my mother and father by a little. We did a lot with him – we went hiking with him. He made quite a name for himself. All his life he lived by sponging. He was so charismatic that he could get away with it. He walked out of school, he took Art lessons, he was a hobo for a while. The only thing that really interested him was painting. He spent all his life painting beautiful pictures. He was a good artist but he didn’t make any money at it. He knew all the artists in Westport – Red Heurlin – they knew Red Heurlin and they loved him. He loved dogs, oh, he loved dogs with a passion. There are a lot of his paintings around Fairbanks, Alaska, at the University of Alaska, in banks, in hospitals. They’re mostly outdoor scenes, some have to do with the early settlers, the Russians. Colcord Heurlin – he always signed C. Heurlin.

One painting did more to make him famous than anything else he did. Rusty made friends, he lived with me for a time in Anchorage. He made pictures. He made a mural, he filled the whole wall with it, for one of the bars in town, a whole Hawaiian scene. He used to drink quite heavily at times. I came home at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and he’d be painting. We lived with an old Norwegian guy, he slept in the upstairs room, had to climb up a ladder. I worked for the airline there, mostly bush piloting – scheduled passenger service came later – but most of the time I was there, it was all bush pilot’s. Rusty and I would go down to George’s living room, George was a bachelor. Rusty would paint in that living room until three or four in the morning. During the day he’d go out partying up and down the street. They called it the longest bar in Alaska – that was Main Street in Anchorage.

About 1940 – 41, things were getting red-hot. Major Marston was up there in charge of the Alaskan Defense Command. He was based in Anchorage. Rusty made friends with him – he made friends with everyone he talked to. He met the Governor of Alaska (Guering) through Major Marston. Rusty came home one night and he said, “Know what they’re going to do? Major Marston says that the Governor wants to go around the whole perimeter of Alaska and try to develop a reasonable defense system for Alaska. I guess it was Major Marston’s idea. Major Marston said, “None of us know anything about Alaska, the Eskimos, the Indians. We should go around and meet these native people. They know the land and if any problems develop with the days coming, we’d be lost. We wouldn’t know what to do.” He said, “We want to get an Alaska Defense going with native people. “Guering says, “Well, you know what? I don’t know any. I’m the Governor of this territory and I’d like to go around with you and meet these people that I’m supposed to be Governor of.” So Rusty sat and listened to all this talk and he said, “You wouldn’t want to take me along, would you? I’ve had this in the back of my mind for years that I would like to do a series of pictures on the discovery of Alaska”. His whole goal, idea and the love of his life was Alaska. He said, “I’d like to have a chance to go around to all these places, make sketches.” “OK, come on along” they said. That’s where he got this series of 18 pictures, starting with the fellow who came from Russia, sailed to Alaska and took it for the Russians. That was the first painting, he did the gold rush and 16 others. This was after he moved to Fairbanks.

Rusty moved to Fairbanks and got married. He was probably in his 60’s, and he married a girl from the Fairbanks News. At this point, he decided that he would teach Art so he got a job teaching Art at the University. He did that for quite a while. After he got these pictures done, the University said to him, “Why don’t we set up a building for you and fix it with this huge rotating platform and you could put these 18 pictures all the way around the building.” They talked it over and they got the Poet Laureate of Alaska to narrate the story. He did a beautiful job and that’s up there. If you ever get to Alaska, you should see it in Fairbanks. Alaska is different than any other state. This place is out of town about 10 miles or so. It’s a park sort of thing. They have a huge boat there that they have on display, probably like the boats they used up there. This one building is all Rusty’s pictures. They also have a museum and other historic stuff.

Rusty was an amazing person. He did posters during the war with “Uncle Sam needs you” on them. We went to the University of Alaska, we told them what we were after, they took us down to the basement and showed us some of his work.

Tomorrow, my posts will be based on letters written in 1942. Both Lad and Dan are in the military, but close enough to get home for some weekends. Ced is still a bush pilot in Alaska, Dick works at Producto Machine Company and worries about the draft, and Dave is in high school and hating it.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Dear Patient Reader (1) – Ced’s News – April, 1945

I will be using the entire week to post a sis-page letter from Grandpa with quotes from other letters he has received and news from France.

Easter Sunday, 1945, at Trumbull     4/1/45

Dear “Patient Reader”:

Having forced you last week to arise from the banquet table without having served the desert – – an Alaskan delicacy, a specially prepared by Ced the Chef (who usually burns things but this time turned it out just golden brown) – – I shall now continue in my own inimitable manner, which consists of quoting from others, to wit:


“I have finally taken up residence at the Morgan Establishment. Myra’s mother arrived on the Aleutian last Saturday afternoon and took over my room. I packed my belongings that evening and barged in at the Morgan’s. As the floor is still being laid I have taken temporary lease of the attic which measures about 4 feet high between the rafters and is probably 12 feet in length and 8 feet usable area wide. Of course I spend a minimum of time up there but it isn’t too bad at that.

Art Woodley arrived from Washington, D. C., and L. A. Sunday evening. He is returning from the hearings on the Anchorage-Seattle run and states that if an Alaskan carrier gets the route he expects it will be himself. He was pleased with the way the proceedings ran. He returned in the Boeing 247, the same one he left in, but he had two new engines installed and the Army paint removed so that it is now silver color and looks infinitely better.

(May 9) Note: that’s what the letter says – – time evidently passes quickly up there) I have been sitting here reading over the previous section and your last few letters to receive some inspiration. I am apparently doing so in vain as little inspiration is forthcoming. Rusty’s address is merely C. Heurlin, Barrow, Alaska. Incidentally, Rusty made big headlines a couple of weeks ago and I will attempt to get you a copy of the times to send. Seems he pitched in and helped (Rusty style) the doctor and nurse at Barrow during an epidemic of influenza among the natives recently. The doctor mentioned in his report that Rusty had helped save many lives and was directly responsible for some recoveries. Last I heard from the hare himself was last fall, and so I have no news to quote directly.

Started the Red Cross first-aid standard course last night and will thus be tied up every Thursday night for the next 10 weeks. My card had about run its course and the Ski Club is trying to get interest in a ski patrol started. As few signed up for the course I felt I had to enter myself as an example. I have had the course twice but one must renew every three years anyway.

My draft status is now occupational deferment until August 11. The day before the date set for my pre-induction physical I was notified that I had been classed as 2-A again.

I continue to receive your most welcome letters and continue to fail to answer regularly. Correspondence, other than to you, is too much of a disgraced even to mention. I have quite a few slides up here. Would you like me to send the ones you haven’t seen with the idea of your returning them? Occasionally I like to show some of them to folks up here which is why I would like to have them returned, otherwise I’ll bring them along on my next trip eastward, probably after the war. What I have in mind is to drive out on the highway and East to Trumbull where I would stay for a while. Then perhaps I’d take off for the South seas or South America. The latter place I have never been interested in until quite recently and then it took Walt Disney’s production of “Saludos Amigos” to create the desire to visit that continent.  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Caballeros )  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkZRlWekvj8 )  If you haven’t seen the picture, by all means do so. The theme development is about the cleverest I ever remember having seen. As for making Alaska my permanent home, I am rather dubious. Homer or a similar locale might be worthwhile but Anchorage is fast becoming a place to exist but not to live in. Ced.

He also mentions sending a box of gifts home and something to each of the Guion warriors.


Tomorrow’s section of the letter carries news of Trumbull, Grandpa, Marian and Jean. Two letters from Dave, a letter from Lad and words for Dan will complete the week.

Judy Guion