Creative Journeyat Tonglen Lake Lodge


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Welcome to the Denali lodge and homestead of Alaskan Artist, Donna Gates.  Donna has lived beside Tonglen Lake for over thirty years while raising a family, sculpting a career and enjoying a genuine Alaskan lifestyle. Tonglen Lake Lodge is a fresh adventure for Donna and a way for her to introduce Alaskan visitors to the artists and community here at Denali. This beautiful five-acre property has been designed by Donna to create an inspirational atmosphere to enhance her guests’ Denali experience.

Preliminary design and preparation for construction began in August of 2011.  Through that winter, the 42’ by 60’ bus barn was renovated by the talented Holum Construction crew from Cantwell into the classroom, canine resort and shop. In May of 2012, demolition of the existing barn began and groundwork was completed for the foundation of the new lodge in that location.  The huge logs from Fairbanks were delivered and the crew of log peelers lived on site while they diligently worked for three weeks to prepare the logs.  The lodge logs were then scribed and fit on the ground while the foundation excavation and construction was completed on the final site.  The logs were then numbered, removed and restacked on top of the new foundation.  Purlins, ridgepole and trusses were then fitted and placed.  The log artistry of the Blair Family is highly respected and revered here in Alaska and is stunning to watch.

Meanwhile, Healy’s Mark Menke and his intrepid Rock-n-Roll Construction crew completed the foundation for the lodge and began work on the ten cabins.  Mark is a dear family friend and talented contractor, truly a treasure.  His crew makes up some of the most experienced carpenters and trades people in our community and beyond.   Everyone shared the goal of low impact construction and worked vigilantly with that in mind.

Who would have imagined that there could be artistry in heavy equipment operation? Will Chesley from Cantwell was an inspiring part of the creation as he sculpted gravel and earth.  Will also invented an attachment for his Bobcat called the Tundra Saver.  He was able to lift large pieces of tundra and trees and relocate them as we cleared for roads, paths, and building sites.  This re-homed tundra you will find around buildings and other areas throughout the property.

The depth of talent in the local Denali community is astounding.  Visit the Created By Hand page to learn more.

This is a dream project for Donna.  It is a gift for her to create a place for her community and guests to enjoy and share. Tonglen Lake Lodge offers the opportunity to be touched by the arts and to learn through performances, workshops, classes and exhibited art throughout the facility.  Tonglen Lake itself is a beautiful place to visit.  The vistas that surround the lodge reflect the wonder of nature and the beauty of Alaska.

Attention has been taken to use local, sustainable and recycled materials.  Awareness to the environment to minimize impact along with restoring and improving the existing property was an important aspect of construction.

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