In 1982, Duane Ose made a trek to Alaska.
After extensively researching the Homestead Act of 1964, Ose staked a claim in the Alaskan wilderness in 1985 and filed it in October 1986 making him the last homesteader in America.
In 2019, Ose and his wife Rena came down from their home on what he called Ose Mountain after living off of the grid together for nearly three decades.
Today they call Redwood Falls their home.
“We moved here last September,” said Duane.
The early years in the wilderness of Alaska were not easy ones for Duane, as he built his first dugout with just a few tools. Yet, he adapted.
Now he and Rena are adapting to a new life in small-town America, but even in a community with a population of 5,000 there are many adjustments that they’ve had to make.
After all, in Alaska their closest neighbors were miles away, while today there are only walls separating them.
Duane, who grew up in the Echo area, opted to return to his roots, but he said they wanted to live in a community that had a few more amenities to include easy access to a hospital. After all, he said, he isn’t getting any younger.
It was health concerns that brought the two of them down from Ose Mountain in 2019. No, said Ose, it was not an easy decision, but he knew for their sake it was the right one. So, with regrets, they left.
Duane and Rena both admitted they are still getting used to hearing things like sirens and snow plows in the middle of the night.
The couple left behind the home that they built, which Duane said took them nine years to erect. That house is a tri-level log cabin that is 30’X40’ in size. All of the work on that home was done by Duane and Rena.
“We used 2,000 logs,” said Duane, adding he used a block and tackle system in the construction.
While they left it behind, the current TV program on BBC that is featuring a potential new owner indicates that someone else will be living there.
“We just don’t want to see the place get run down,” said Rena.
Duane added in the wilderness if things are not regularly cared for they will quickly go back to the way they were.
Rena and Duane said they were able to watch the first two episodes of the show (the third aired Sunday). The show is called “Win the Wilderness - Alaska."
Duane said they were approached about the idea of the program by a media group known as Twofour, which presented the idea first in the U.S. Rena said none of the American companies jumped at the chance, and so the BBC got involved.
Duane said they were emphatic that this reality show be real, adding they would not buy into the drama of other reality shows.
Duane is currently working on another book about life in Alaska. He has published several others, and he is convinced that will keep him busy as the two of them continue to adjust to their new life.
“It was a great life, but it had to come to an end,” said Duane.
When asked Rena said she has no interest in going back.
Duane, however, left that door open.
- Submitted photo