30 Years Alone In The Alaskan Wilderness, The Story About A Woodsman And The Home He Built
Categories: Life Stories
Death and legacy
In 1999, at age 82, Proenneke returned to civilization and lived the remainder of his life with his brother Raymond "Jake" Proenneke in Hemet, California. He died of a stroke April 20, 2003, at the age of 86. He left his cabin to the National Park Service, and it remains a popular visitor attraction in the still-remote Twin Lakes region of Lake Clark National Park. In 2007 Proenneke's cabin was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sam Keith, who got to know Proenneke at the Kodiak Naval Station and went on numerous hunting and fishing trips with him, suggested that Proenneke's journals might be the basis for a good book. Proenneke agreed to whatever changes Keith wanted to make. In 1973, Keith published the book One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, based on Proenneke's journals and photography.:vii After years in print it was re-issued in a new format in 1999, winning that year's National Outdoor Book Award (NOBA). A hardcover "commemorative edition", celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the publication of One Man's Wilderness, was published by Alaska Northwest Books in 2013. In 2003, some of the copyrighted text from the book and some of Proenneke's film were used with permission in Alone in the Wilderness, which began appearing on U.S. Public Television. The documentary centers around Proenneke building a cabin from the surrounding natural resources and includes his film footage and narration of wildlife, weather, and the natural scenery while he goes about his daily routine over the course of the winter months.
In 2005, the National Park Service and the Alaska Natural History Association published More Readings From One Man's Wilderness, another volume of Proenneke's journal entries. The book, edited by John Branson, a longtime Lake Clark National Park employee and friend of Proenneke, covers the years when the park was established. Dick had a very close relationship with the Park Service, assisting them in filming sensitive areas and notifying them if poachers were in the area.
The Early Years: The Journals of Richard L. Proenneke 1967-1973 was published by Alaska Geographic in 2010. As with More Readings From One Man's Wilderness, the volume is edited by John Branson. This collection of journals covers Proennekes' first years at Twin Lakes, including the construction of his cabin and cache. The journal entries overlap those in Sam Keith's edited collection of some of Proenneke's journals One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey. But unlike that book—in which Keith frequently modified Proenneke's writing style—The Early Years presents Proenneke's journals with minimal or no modification.