Late 1950's early 1960's Harding Lake Ski Club

This video was taken at the Clasby Cabin which was located where the Schok compound now sits at the South end of Harding Lake.  Bob Clasby converted from the original 8MM film  to VHS to DVD, so it lost some quality.  The occasion for the film was  a bachelor party for Jay Holmes who graduated from Lathrop High School in 1960.  The film starts out with a short scene of a sail board with red and white sail.  Then Bill Kohler appears as bachelor Jay  Holmes takes off water skiing.  Note Bill’s cigarette!  Bob Clasby is on the float assisting water skiers.  An unidentified water skier is next in the video and for some reason that scene repeats 4 times.  Jay the bachelor is then thrown off the float.  Next Bill Kohler and Bob Clasby are cooking breakfast, looks pretty good.  They are cooking with a wood stove with oven.  Bill can be seen drinking an Olympia beer from a “glass can”.  I think they said Bill’s nick name back then was “Bad Ass Billy”!  The last scene is Bob Clasby at the helm of the sail board, which flips in the end.  Bob was not sure of the passenger.  The sail board belonged to the Tommy Paskvan whose family had a place at Harding Lake then and now the next generation is at Birch Lake.  Ed and Rick Wagner and Bob had done some major repairs to the board in exchange for Tommy allowing them to use it.  Note how high the lake was in 1964, considerably higher than now with the water right up to the bank.  You can also see the “point” in the first water skiing scene, and it was very undeveloped at that time.  Thanks to Bob Clasby for supplying this video.

Bill Stroecker Comments on Wagner film from UAF Archives



On April 4, 2006, I watched the approximately one hour tape from the “ C.W. Wagner Collection” with Bill Stroecker, then in his 80’s and a lifelong resident of Fairbanks. The tape included some scenes from a family Christmas, the visit of Howard Hughes to Fairbanks in 1935, the Winter Carnival, and numerous scenes taken at Harding Lake. The Harding Lake video linked to this narrative is about 13 minutes long.


The Wagner cabin at Harding Lake was where Bob and Chris Compeau now own a cabin. That is about halfway between the landing and where I have my place. The Evans family is on one side of Compeau’s and the Immel place is on the other side.


Bill thought the two said boats were made of aircraft fabric. The long canoe like vessel with engine was cork lined, Bill said. Very unique. The floating dive platform was near the Wagner place. Bill said a Mrs. Tommy Wright who had a cabin nearby would put up a sign on the dive platform that it should not be used before 10:00 AM. He said she was mean.


Lynn Smith, a U.S. Marshall, owned the dilapidated cabin on what is the point at Harding Lake. We all used to refer to the point as “Smith’s Point” when we were kids (comment by Jeff Cook). Bill talked about the Jack Buckley cabin located where the Sexton family now has their compound. Jack was also a U.S. Marshall.


In the video, the original cabin now owned by John and Marcia Hajdukovich is clearly visible, and to this day you can recognize a portion of the original. Also visible is the cabin Stroecker still has and which was owned before the Stroecker family by Martin Knuppe.


There is one scene with the Black Buick on the Highway to town by the River. Bill said that was at 5-mile hill on the old Richardson. It took a couple hours to get to town in those days. The same Buick is visible in a couple other scenes, one by a Harding Lake cabin.


Also visible in the film is the Stepovich cabin, which looks very much the same today. Bill mentioned that a Gladys Saliday had a place by the Stepovich cabin. She had a boyfriend Gus Conrad at the time. Sounded like that might have been a cause of some gossip back then.


Bill was talking and recollecting so fast that I am not sure I got all the names and connections he mentioned. He remembers the Wagner family well. It was fascinating to watch the film with Bill. He probably has much more to tell than I was able to capture in one sitting. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to watch the film with Bill and learn so much.



Jeff Cook

April 29, 2013

It was taken by Alan Richardson primarily and was taken from the Tilman property in the cove near the point.

  • Starts out with Alan Richardson water skiing.  Note the ski rope in all the scenes.  Typical of teenage boys, the rope knotted and tied togethers.
  • Next is Don Winfree, on the dock and then skiing.
  • You have to do a frame stop to catch Billie Bob Allen sitting on the dock and getting ready to ski.  You can see the foam green cabin in that scene.  The cabin was torn down at the store landing     (Fifth Street) and hauled over and the cabin built by then teenagers Tilman, Richardson, Winfree, Allen and others in 1960.  That basic cabin still sits there in the cove down from Sadler’s place.  It is white now.
  • There is then a brief scene of an upside down catamaran outboard boat with twin Mercury engines that had flipped and was being towed to shore.  The boat owner and alleged driver is Jim Dodson.  Those boats that were supposed to be “untipable” survived despite lack of life vests.
  • There is a scene then of Steve Winfree and then girlfriend Gene Rafson dropping off his brother Don at the Tilman place.  They are in a yellow and black Skagit boat.
  • The final scene is Dave Tilman water skiing with a good view of the “point” where the Bill and Bonnie Gordon cabin/ home now sits.







Scene 1, about 4 minutes and 20 seconds long:

  • This was taken the summer of 1940 and likely in front of the then Clausen cabin now owned by the Ken and Mike Hall families.  It is located at the bottom of the hill on the way to the Shrine Lodge where the Harding Lake Association meets.
  • The scene is of the Warren “Tillie” and LaVaughn Tilman family.  At the time they had the three boys who are in the scene, Warren, William, and Clyde.  Their son Dave who narrates the video was born in 1942.  Note the matching swim attire of the day for the three boys.
  •  There are two other children in the movie footage that are not identified.
  • Notice there was no development on the far east side of the lake at that time.
  • The Tilman family later purchased 5 acres in the cove near the “point” and members of the family still own some of that property.




 Scene 2, less than 2 minutes long:

  • This footage starts out at the Eugene Philpot out in a boat with ice still on the lake in the spring of 1959.  Dave Tilman worked at the store as a teenager renting out boats and canoes, selling gas and doing other duties.
  • The store shown in those scenes sat where Jon Cook and Melissa Stepovich purchased the Hoitt property and tore down the Hoitt cabin.  The store shown in the video burned down in the late 1960’s.  The store had various grocery items, sold gas from the dock and did minor repairs on outboards.  They also sold new boats, one shown in the footage.  There was a grill and they sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches.
  • The 1955 Plymouth shown in the scene belonged to William Tilman and is parked on Fifth Street, the same launch area located between the Niewhoner property and the Cook/ Stepovich property.  A little more water in the lake then so easier to launch boats there.
  • Note some development on the far or east side of the lake by this time.