During an April 13th meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society (CERHS) members expressed a wish to expand membership and enhance its profile to integrate itself more fully in the community—particularly among its younger generations.
“Some of the area’s early homesteaders and pioneers are passing on,” commented CERHS President Larry Phillips. “To preserve and protect our history, we need to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations of our community and get them involved.”
About 50 people attended the event, which was held at the Eagle River Elks Club on Eagle River Loop Road. The program included a dinner and slide show. The show featured historical scenes from the area’s early days, primarily the 1940s when many of the area’s homesteaders were beginning to settle here.
CERHS member Randy Phillips, formerly a member of the Alaska Legislature, expressed a need for broader participation in the Society to capture and preserve the area’s history and ultimately, make it accessible to the public.
“We don’t want our precious history to fade away with the passing of our original settlers,” Phillips commented. “It’s imperative that we bring in others, of succeeding generations, to help us perpetuate that history and bring it to life.”
An example of this was a 2015 Eagle Scout project completed by Eric Lundgren, son of outgoing CERHS officer Chris Lundgren, who is the author of Legendary Locals of Chugiak -Eagle River, which focuses on the area’s post-World War II homesteading activity. Eric digitized some 800 issues of a newspaper published from 1958-73, the Knik Arm Courier, which can be found on the CERHS website: http://cerhs.com Go to this site for further information and contacts for CERHS.
CERHS President Larry Phillips says the Society currently has about 80 members, but that it is trying to recruit for more members, a vacant Secretary position and also two board member seats. In addition to Phillips, CERHS officers are Connie Sumarall, vice president; and Jean Moore, treasurer.
CERHS Board members are Nanette Belk, Joan Delaquito, Darlene Halverson, Virginia Kirk, Kaye Pullen and Jo Ann Vanover.
“The Palmer Historical Society is very well run and organized,” noted Phillips. “I’m hoping that we can draw upon some of their successes and incorporate them into CERHS as we look at the long term.”
Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebekah, a retired elementary school teacher.