This Man Lived Alone For Nearly 30 Years In The Mountains of Alaska In a Log Cabin Which He Built With His Own Hands


Richard Proenneke was an amateur naturalist who lived alone for nearly thirty years in the mountains of Alaska in a log cabin which he built with his own hands near the shore of Twin Lakes. Proenneke hunted, fished, raised and gathered his own food, and also had supplies flown in occasionally. He documented his activities in journals and on film, and also recorded valuable meteorological and natural data. The journals and film were later used by others to write books and produce documentaries about his time in the wilderness.


Sam Keith, a close friend of Dick Proenneke, wrote: One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey – Paperback

Bob Swerer produced the video “Alone in the Wilderness” in 2003. Bob edited more of Dick’s previously unseen footage to create this film of Dick and his adventures in Alaska.

Bob Swerer produced the video “Alaska Silence & Solitude” in 1998. In 1997 Bob Swerer and Bob Swerer Sr flew to Twin Lakes to visit with Dick Proenneke and explore the Twin Lakes region.

Bob Swerer produced the video “The Frozen North” in 2006. Dick Proenneke shot over 3000 feet of 8mm movie film. Bob edited the film and added sound to create this fascinating film of one man living alone in the Alaska wilderness.

Bob Swerer produced the video “ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS PART II” in 2011 after Dick’s brother Raymond discovered more old footage that had never been seen before, which includes more building and carving, canoeing and outstanding wildlife footage.


    • albert tait on said:

      I have come across this before different people though I envy them now no TV CLEAR MIND THINKING AND SURVIVING in the hardest of places.

  • David Loehmann on said:

    I saw the documentary on this man years ago on PBS. It is one of the best I’ve ever seen. He filmed it all by himself, setting up a camera and recording his daily activities. I highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in survivalism. Truly inspiring and a movie I’ll never forget.

  • Brian Lies on said:

    If you’re interested in Dick Proenneke’s experience, read the book which inspired the documentary, “One Man’s Wilderness,” written by Sam Keith. Also Keith’s Alaska memoir of his experiences in Alaska 1953-55, when he met and had adventures with Proenneke.

  • Roger Vines on said:

    When I was young I dreamed of living a life like Jeremiah Johnson. It finally occured to me, a life of isolation in the wilderness would be a wasted life. Relationships is too important in my opinion. I love the outdoors, but a life without other humans would be totally self focused. We all live and we all die. All we leave behind is our relationships and the impact for good we have had on other people. While a life of isolation in harmony with nature sounds glamorous, not really. If not for those who knew him and wrote about him, this guy could live his whole life and nobody would ever know he existed. That said, it still appeals to the Jeremiah Johnson in me.

    • yorgiskyra on said:

      This stuff is very impressive to see on a computer screen in a house with all modern comforts, including a nine-to-five (or whatever) job.
      Trying to live like that, and even trying to make the very first steps toward being able to live like that for one week, is a very different matter. Life skills and even more so survival skills are imprinted during a person’s childhood and youth. In later ages they don’t come easy, or don’t come at all.

  • Mark Krause on said:

    Hardly a wasted life…Roger. This outdoorsman brought beauty to thousands in a way they had never seen it before. The bars are full of people living wasted lives, chasing toys and drugs.

  • stephanie on said:

    He was so amazing, loved that show! But drop the word Amatuer naturalist. That guy was a pro. His education was more complete and real than PH.D from a school.

  • Pat Eastman on said:

    I remember watching this documentary a few years ago. Was very interesting. Hard working guy who built a cabin an lived off the land…by himself. Seemed a very lonely existance. I remebered thinking he could have been attacked by wildlife, fallen through ice, hurt felling trees, any number of things, but was strong, smart and knew what he was doing. Great story.

  • The documentaries about this man were fascinating. All on PBS locally several years ago. Prelude to The Last Alaskans, Alaska:the Last Frontier and Life Below Zero. He was amazing…

  • frankdn on said:

    Google the late Sylvan Hart, who lived a similar life along the Salmon River in Idaho. Peterson’s “The Last of the Mountain Men” is a good (out of print) bio.

  • Please do some research before publishing these “facts”. Dick did not live continuously in Alaska for 30 years. He was out of the bush quite often. One time for 2 years after he crashed his and his brothers small plane, leaving Alaska to go to visit his brother in California. If I remember right, His total in time at his cabin would have amounted to about 18-19 years.

  • john stein on said:

    the thing that amazed me about Dick is his superhuman strength. cutting down trees, then dragging the logs out of the forest, inletting the ends and then hoisting those things above his head to build the walls!! good grief. all without any power tools of any kind. I get a hernia just thinking about that.

  • Diane Strickler on said:

    I watch this amazing documentary every time it’s on PBS I am just awed by what this man did and on his own.I never before have seen anyone who matches this man’s incredible abilities.I am filled with sadness when he had to leave his wilderness home.

  • Gabriel Valdez jr on said:

    I love the out doors and this video shows me what am missing in life and out doors thank you for reminding me

  • I’d like to read the book but it should be recognized that this dude had the privilege to live on Indigenous territories in ways that Indigenous peoples weren’t able to because of colonial encroachment and dispossession. There’s some intense erasure here.

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