king salmon, Alaska

"You can't just let nature runwild" - former Alaska Governor Walter Hickel


News From The King Ko

A Visit By The Golden Bear

Last fall, we were paid a surprise visit by the Golden Bear. He had diverted his return flight from China to meet up with Barbara - his wife of 50 years - to partake in a little Bristol Bay drainage flyfishing. It was a refreshing contrast to an otherwise scandal-ridden year in golf. Jack, we hope the Tiger falls short in his quest - for decency sake.

New Accolades For The Ko

Cover of Besr Places: Alaska

Every now and then, we take a stroll down the aisles of various Anchorage bookstores to checkout what the travel books are saying about King Salmon and Bristol Bay. This year we were pleased to find that the King Ko's restaurant is now included in the Best Places Alaska (4th Edition) travel book - the only restaurant in Naknek or King Salmon to receive this recognition.

Cover of Besr Places: Alaska

The Lonely Planet Guide - Alaska 9th Edition describes the King Ko as follows:

"Friendly, comfortable and adjacent to the airport terminal. It offers 16 cabins with private baths; eight of them also have kitchenettes. The King Ko is also home to the liveliest bar in town."

Finally, The Unofficial Guide To Adventure Travel In Alaska (2nd Edition) says this about the King Ko:

"This is the place to stay for those who enjoy socializing and meeting fun people. The King Ko Inn features tidy duplexes nestled in the woods, complete with small kitchenettes that are functional but not fancy. The accompanying King Ko Bar is a great nightspot, although it does not interfere with the peace and quiet of the duplexes. Our personal choice."

While we always do our best accurately describe our facility and operation to potential guests without oversell, sometimes the words of independent journalists say it best and without a taint of bias. While we have never been introduced to any of these reviewers - they typically come and depart unannounced - we thank them nonetheless for their kind words.

Caught Redhanded

Another letter we recently received from a patron:

"Dear Paul and Johnny:

The Beer was great and I even would tried out the Jagermeister Ski (amazing). I realized in the plane thatr I had forgotten to pay for the last round. As you Paul look like somebody who might forgive but never forget, I attach 15 Dollars for the Beers. All the best, Max, Lawrence and Bueller."

Dear Max et al

Thank you for your honesty, but we really must return your payment. You see, the heads on your freshly-poured draft beers had not yet wilted when "Johnny" realized that you had left and snagged them, claiming credit for buying me one and drinking down the remainder as if it were his birthright. Please send us a current address and "Johnny" will certainly reimburse you for your brewskis. What remains if there cannot be honor among beer drinkers? Come back soon.

Questioning Grace Slick's Roots

We recently received an email from Chuck & Loretta Erdo from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylania. In their email they reminisce about their trip to King Salmon some three years ago:

"We were up to visit with you back in 2007 and we had a great time. We stayed over at [Brand X] and spent a few nights just sitting on one of your stools listening to the best juke-box around. ... I have a question about the "First public performance of 'White Rabbit' by Naknek's own Grace Slick [reference on our History page]. This can't be true ...... we also spent some time at the Red Dog up in Naknek and never heard a thing about this one. Anyway, thanks again."

Needless to say, it would be unwise for us to either confirm or deny your assertion that the Grace Slick entry is the one entry that may be partially fabricated on our history page. That would either narrow down the options or, in a worst case, divulge the mystery contained in our chronology. We would note, however, that the people of Naknek might better remember Grace as Grace Wing - her maiden name before marrying Jerry Slick in 1961. Before that time, Grace lived an amazing life, working as an I. Magnin model in New York (her Mother was a descendent from the Mayflower) and living on Bristol Bay with her father, a Scandinavian fisherman.

Grace penned "White Rabbit" in the late 50's or early 60's and performed the song at the Skytel during that period. The first live performance of the song in a large venue came some years later in California while singing with Grace's first band - The Great Society. Once The Great Society morphed into the Jefferson Airplane, Grace's career took off and Naknek did not see much of their dear Gracie.

Thank you for your email and kind words. We hope you'll come back to visit us again.

King Ko Is Location For New Romantic Adventure Series

Author Monica McCabe is writing a new romantic adventure series about Alaska. All six installments of this series are based upon the author's experiences while working at the King Ko during the mid-eighties. These installments are now available on the internet. They are entitled "King Salmon, Alaska", "The Flying Tigers", "Tundra, Whales & Beavers, Oh My", "King Ko Vice", "Wild Alaska" and "Last Call At The King Ko Inn". All may be found on the Music City Romance Writers website. This marks the first time that the words "romantic" and "King Ko" have every appeared together in the same sentence. While we cannot confirm (nor deny) the accuracy of Ms. McCabe's stories - we do agree with her descriptions of the unmatched beauty and excitement of Alaska. Her tales are all part of the mystique of doing business for over 50 years in the Alaska bush. We are honored that she chose to retell her experiences while working at the King Ko - albeit 23 years after the fact. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens at the King Ko does eventually get retold - but only in the form of legend with names withheld to protect the . . . participants.

A Call For All Beatles Photos

Many visitors to our site refuse to believe that the Beatles actually made their U.S. concert debut in King Salmon at the King Ko (then known as the Skytel) on February 6, 1964 as stated on our History page. While we have even attached a copy of the original concert poster for the event, many visitors have demanded further proof. If anyone happens to have a photo of the Beatles while they were visiting King Salmon in 1964, we would sure like to have a copy of the picture to post on our website. Ideally, the picture will be of the group performing at the Skytel (remember it was 1964 - the Skytel had not yet been remodeled and renamed the King Ko), but even if it just places them in Naknek/King Salmon we may get the naysayers to change their tune. Just email us your pictures at alaska@kingko.com and we will get them promptly posted. Your creativity will be appreciated. For your reference, we have attached a picture of the Skytel, circa 1950, and the Alaska Peninsula Highway sign in Naknek from back then. As you may recall, we took the Beatles on an afternoon tour of Naknek shortly after they arrived in King Salmon and, during that tour, they visited with Grace Slick at her home in Naknek.

The Polo Pony Confession

It's been about ten years since we first included a picture of a polo competition on our Tour page. The picture is captioned "Polo on our newly seeded field." This picture gained notoriety several years ago when a guest from a nearby hotel dropped by to visit our polo facilities and take in a match. She said that she was visiting from Texas. A couple of years later, another lady - also from Texas - dropped by for the same purpose.

Over the years we have received numerous employment applications from "cowhands" who hoped to take care of our polo ponies while working in Alaska. These applicants were usually from either Montana or Wyoming. Their inquiries were generally treated lightly by our staff - an inside joke that not everyone gets. Then came a call from our insurance company last spring. They were auditing our account and had begun cross-checking our insurance application against our website. They noted that our application had not disclosed that we were holding polo matches on our grounds and that we had failed to disclose a horse barn on our premises. They questioned whether they could continue to insure us in light of our failure to disclose such significant risks. At that point, we realized that our "little joke" could become a big problem. We later learned that the story of our polo ponies had circulated at a national insurance convention in NYC last summer. It seems that the insurance auditor was rather embarassed by the experience.

FOR THE RECORD (this is the confession part), the polo picture that appears on our Tour page is meant to be a joke. King Salmon is located at the north end of the Aleutian Islands - in tundra. It is great grazing land for caribou and moose. Lichens and berries are plentiful. It is not desirable land, however, for raising or maintaining polo ponies. Indeed, the nearest polo pony to King Salmon is probably located somewhere in British Columbia or south of there - more than 3,000 miles away. Please do not plan your summer trip to Alaska around watching or participating in a polo match at the King Ko Inn. You may be the only spectator or participant, you may end up on the back of a caribou instead of a polo pony, and you will be uninsured while doing it. Having said all this, we expect to get at least three more "horse handler" resumes for the coming season. We will post the resumes for your enjoyment when they come in. We sincerely hope that this confession does not undermine the trust that you previously placed in the King Ko Inn. We feel better now.

Just Call 866-234-DISH

For the last 20 years or so, we have offered a toll-free reservations line to our customers. Just dial 866-234-FISH (i.e. 866-234-3474) to speak to us. Unfortunately, last summer the traffic on this line suddenly became so heavy that many of our customers had trouble getting through. During this abnormal rush, the bulk of the callers we spoke to had southern accents and were looking to speak to a Dish Network representative. It seems that some Atlanta-area marketing genius produced several TV ads and designed a new paint scheme for all local Dish Network trucks, encouraging people to call 866-234-DISH (i.e. 866-234-3474) - rather than 888-234-DISH - for information on or to purchase Dish Network service. Our complaints to Dish Network initially fell on deaf ears. Later, however, we finally got their attention by offering the "Dish Network Escort Service" to every unsuspecting caller rather than telling them that they had reached a wrong number. We now understand that all of the incorrect TV ads have been pulled and all of the Dish Network trucks have been repainted. It has been some time now since we have had the opportunity to pitch our escort service to an unsuspecting caller. Our toll-free number is again available to our customers. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Thanks To Alice McPhee !

Alice McPhee recently wrote to us from her home in Port Townsend, Washington, and enclosed a picture of the Beatles performing at the King Ko (then known as the Skytel) in February of 1964. She wrote:

"I was hired back in the 60's by the BIA to evaluate educational opportunities found in Native villages located on the Alaskan Aleutian chain. We ran into foul weather just outside of Anchorage as I began my first flight to the Aleutians. By the time we got to King Salmon, the weather was bad and my trip was stalled for two days while we waited for the weather to improve. There was nowhere to stay in King Salmon other than the Skytel - a tar paper old building with a restaurant at one end and a single room barracks at the other. Having previously retired from the Snowhomish School District, these accommodations were rather rustic for me to experience. I figured I would just cover up in my bunk bed at night and hope that my "roommates" did not realize that there was a woman sleeping in the same room. I left the Skytel that first evening to walk around King Salmon and, when I returned, the barracks had been turned upside down. The bunkbeds were all pushed to one corner and a makeshift stage had been fashioned out of old pallets in another corner. The local residents had gathered to watch four strange kids from Liverpool perform on the makeshift stage. To my amazement, these were the same four lads who would appear on the Ed Sullivan Show a couple of days later. Little did I know that, while visiting the Aleutians, I would be introduced to what soon would be the hottest act in America. I remember that there was a barracks full of [tipsy] patrons in the Skytel - the Skytel had no bar but the visitors all appeared to be drinking something in paper cups - all demanding that the band play requests such as 'Puff, The Magic Dragon' instead of 'that British s___.' Thirty-three years later, I look back at that evening as probably the most memorable evening of my life. While I recall taking 3 or 4 pictures that night, I have found only one to prove that I was there. Please share this picture with those who doubt your claim. Yes, Virginia, the Beatles did once perform on stage in King Salmon. Warmest regards, Alice McPhee"

"Should I Bring A Bathing Suit?"

Each spring we receive calls from customers wondering whether they should bring bathing suits for their stay at the King Ko. They note that they saw a reference on our website that the pool is found at the rear of the bar. That is true and we do recommend wearing bathing suits when shooting pool at the rear of the bar. To some, the alternative is to wear a Budweiser hat duct taped around your loin - an atire that the local authorities frown upon.

Who Is Visiting Our Website?

We often wish that we had better knowledge of our website visitors. For example, where are they from? Are they in Alaska, the lower 48, or in Europe (where many of our hotel guests come from)? Well now, with the aid of a magic little program, we can get that generic information. Check out the following link for a map showing the last 1,000 surfers who visited our site as of July 3rd of this year. We'll periodically update the map to show how the distribution of visitors changes with the seasons







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