In this National Park Service video, pilot Lynn Ellis flies through Wrangell-St. Elias Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S., providing a deeply personal narration along with views of truly stunning scenery. Ellis is uniquely positioned to show off the park; he grew up in the Wrangells, living and working there from the time he was a small child.
In oral histories collected by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Project Jukebox, Ellis's mother, Lorene Ellis, and two of her sons shared their experiences living at the end of Nabesna Road, about 42 miles into the Wrangell Mountains. The family purchased Devil's Mountain Lodge in 1957 after moving to Alaska from Texas three years earlier, and Lorene and Bill Ellis raised their four sons living a subsistence lifestyle there. Bill Ellis became a guide and bush pilot and his sons, to one degree or another, followed in his footsteps. Kirk Ellis and his family still operate Devil's Mountain Lodge, providing hunting and guiding services.
Lynn Ellis began flying when he was 16 and operated a Gulkana-based air taxi service for a time. He now works for the National Park Service, flying search-and-rescue operations and transporting rangers, biologists and maintenance crews through all areas of the park as they conduct wildlife surveys and other activities.
Ellis' deep love for the backcountry -- and specifically Wrangell-St. Elias -- is evident in this video. Flying over its 13.2 million acres, which include the country's largest wilderness area, he has a perspective on the mountains and wild spaces that few people will ever experience. His Alaska is the one of countless magazine articles and TV shows. But mostly, as he makes very clear here, it is his home.
Oral histories collected by Project Jukebox on Wrangell-St. Elias are available online. They include interviews with Lorene, Kirk and Cole Ellis and many other longtime area residents.
Contact Colleen Mondor at email@example.com.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing