Once upon a time (well, in the 1970’s), there was a man by the name of Leon Smith who stumbled across a desolate area in between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. Perhaps he stood inspired by the snowy peaks of his surroundings as the wind whipped around him, or maybe something about the place just felt right.
Whatever the case, he had a vision. A dream in his mind’s eye of a beautiful, cozy hotel that would welcome visitors to a restaurant and gift shop on the first floor and hotel rooms up above. The hotel would be unique and charming, and different than anything that people had been to before.
In a respectful nod to the native peoples and as thrilling as a child’s winter fort the structure of the hotel itself would be quirky and fun, created in the shape of an igloo. The uniqueness of the property would draw guests for hundreds of miles, and might become a landmark of sorts to mark the halfway point between the two cities. Tiny windows from each of the rooms would give guests an unparalleled view into the wilderness and allow beams of light to shine on the wooden planks below.
He went about creating the structure and was almost certainly pleased to see his dream take form as it rose four stories above the earth in its gently rounded crescent shape with cerulean skies and fluffy white clouds above. In the winters, the snow gently dusted the dome and covered the ground in pristine white mounds.
Unfortunately, money ran out before electricity was installed, and the building and tiny windows didn’t meet building codes or pass inspection. Dream shattered, it was even too expensive to tear down, so the building was sold…three times, but the owners didn’t pay and it was finally sold for a low offer to someone by the name of Brad Fisher of Fisher’s fuel. He put in a gas station, but after a while the generator became too expensive to run because of rising gas prices. It was put on sale again in 2013 for $300,000 but didn’t have any takers, perhaps because of a reported estimate of $1.3 Million to get the place fixed up to code, get water running and a power station.
Even though the hotel was never finished, over the years it became an iconic structure that tourists enjoyed taking photos next to and children looked forward to seeing the huge abandoned igloo when on car trips. Here’s a link to see some photos of the igloo.
Even though the igloo has yet to fulfill the original owner’s dreams, the igloo has succeeded in becoming a hotel of sorts to local bears and wolves that are using the structure as a shelter.
There has been no news about the igloo since 2013, so if you happen to be driving between Fairbanks and Anchorage and find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of the rising mountains in the distance and fancy yourself running a charming hotel inside an igloo, fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you….