ABOUT THE GUESTHOUSE
Aimee’s Guest House has a wonderful location on the “quiet side” of the Salmon River, which flows through central Gustavus. Stores, restaurants, galleries, and what comprises our “downtown” are all a short walk or bike ride away. Glacier Bay National Park is 8 miles from town: the dock and airport are each 2 miles from the Guest House.
Situated on 10 acres of river meadow, your vacation home is surrounded by an ever-changing palate of wildflowers, and enjoys a panoramic view of Excursion Ridge and Icy Strait. Our Community Garden is just across the River from the Guesthouse, and you’ll often see gardeners busy at working their crops. For many, it is a major supplement to a near-subsistence lifestyle. It’s also a great place to visit and see what we can grow in the long days of summer.
Aimee’s Guest House is the former Salmon River Smokehouse, Gustavus’ first “fish foundry”, and a thriving business for 13 years. Three apartments fill the spaces where the crew put their feet up, or processed and packaged smoked salmon and halibut for shipment throughout the US.
I am pleased to offer you a place to relax after a “hard days work” at play, When you arrive to Gustavus, a taxi or rental car will greet you and bring you to your door. From there you can walk to the grocery store, golf course, or beach. Bikes are available to quicken your pace. You can stroll down to the river and watch the salmon slalom, or you can put your feet up and watch a world of eagles, ravens, geese, and hawks. Binoculars are available for a close-up of a bear or moose passing by or stopping to graze.
In 1958, my brother and I boarded a PBY(a WWII patrol bomber recycled as a passenger plane) in Sitka, presumably because the Gustavus school needed 2 more children to fill the requisite 8, for the territory of Alaska to station a teacher here. My father had just moved in to one of the new houses built by the Park Service to establish a station at Bartlett Cove. He was the first Chief of Maintenance in Glacier Bay, and would maintain that position for another 20 years.
During these years, the C.A.A., which became the F.A.A., maintained the “emergency airfield” in Gustavus, an infrequently used stopover for planes flying from Seattle to Anchorage. Nevertheless, it did keep a small but lively settlement here to supplement and entertain the few homestead families that had settled Gustavus before the airfield was built.
Fred & Ruth Matson were one of these families. Ruth came in 1931 to be the first schoolteacher for the children of the earliest homesteaders, and she and her fisherman husband decided to make it their home. By the time I arrived Ruth had retired from school teaching, but couldn’t bear to retire from children, so she became the local piano teacher, and kept a steady stream of us visiting her home for many years to come. I was one of her students, and in 1978 I inherited her house, piano, and the 10 acres left of their original homestead, that the Guest House sits on.
In 1985, with a further small inheritance from Ruth and Matt, I decided to start my business. The Salmon River Smokehouse started as a 12’x 24’ cabin where I first custom-processed salmon, halibut, and trout that were brought to me by locals and charter fishermen. My favorite memories come from these start-up days, with my father & I collecting alder wood for the fire, my old friend, Joe Stehlik, teaching me how to speed up my fish filleting , and the little local fisherchildren proudly bringing in their river fish to be smoked.
In any case, the smokehouse grew and grew. Soon I was buying fish and sending Christmas gift boxes of smoked salmon and ( I daresay, my invention:) smoked halibut throughout the country. I had as many as 10 employees at times, and the little shed burgeoned into the 24’x 48’ building that now serves as the Guest House.
In 1998, life created new ideas for my time, and so I closed the Smokehouse, and began the process of converting my “fish foundry” in the new aesthetic. For five years there was an artist’s co-op gallery downstairs. The artists are now dispersed throughout the community, and several have opened their studios to the public.