As many people already know at this point, 4 days ago the Motherlode Lodge in Hatcher Pass was burned to the ground. It is a particularly sad event for many people because of so many fond memories passing by the local checkpoint and events at the Lodge itself, with at least one of my friends getting married there.
Constructed as a Roadhouse in 1942, there isn't a ton of information to be gleaned from the internet on the lodge itself. I suspect this is in part because while Hatcher Pass is a location that so many people in The Valley are familiar with, there aren't many outside of here that know much about area at all.
A little bit of browsing on the Alaska Lost Ski Areas Project (which is an awesome website but be warned you might lose a couple of hours reading about some areas that you didn't know about before) tells a lot of the story that I would wager even the saltiest of locals don't know about. There is a gallery of images there that shows the remains of the ski rope lift that was erected by Victor Cottini sometime after 1942 or 1943. After expanding the lodge to further accommodate miners in the area, Mr Cottini sold the property in 1958. He died in 1967, leaving family who still remains in the area. A wonderful write up by Carole Wegner can be found at Last Frontier Magazine (no affiliation with my website) where she talks about growing up living in the Lodge.
After the lodge was sold to the Betts family in 1958, it was maintained as a lodge and the ski area was operated in the winter time. At some time during their ownership period, the ski lift fell into disrepair and the lodge changed hands several more times. The records that I have found are sparse at best. Per the notes at the bottom of the ALSAP page, Bill Betts has passed away but Marie Betts lives in Wasilla to this day.
In 1991, the Roadhouse changed hands again to Jill Reese. In recent times, the lodge was undergoing renovations due to vandalism but was not insured according to public comments by the owner. On April 17th, when firefighters arrived on scene, the only action that they were able to take was to contain the blaze due to the property being outside of their fire area.
Our family has planned on spending more time up in Hatcher Pass this summer and fall. We plan on spending time with the girls berry picking and enjoying all that we can up there. It will be sad to see this landmark gone for sure, I had looked forward to it reopening some day.