Keith Murray, The Goat Man Of Kenny Lake

Keith Murray Of Kenny Lake 

  Northcountry Communications. All Rights Reserved.

Jean "Keith" Murray, On His Kenny Lake Homestead, Probably In The 1990's.

Jean "Keith" Murray came to Kenny Lake decades ago to homestead and start a new life in Alaska. He built a small log cabin -- and liked to tell people it cost less than the one built by the great American writer and proponent of self-reliance, Henry David Thoreau, at Walden Pond. 

Keith Murray had worked in California as an artist, making models of Ice Age animals that got enmired in the La Brea Tar Pits. When he moved to Kenny Lake, he had a herd of goats, a barrel stove he outfitted himself -- and he stored root crops he had grown between the struts of the log cabin floor where they could stay cool.

We first ran across Jean Murray back around 1976, and wrote a story about him and his cabin for the Anchorage Times. This photo was probably taken in the late 1980's or early 1990's by Bearfoot Travel Guides (and the Copper River Country Journal -- both of hem among our publications) at his Kenny Lake homestead, which is in the Copper River Valley, where Bearfoot Travel Magazines has its home base. We are pleased that our photo triggered a dramatic family reunion.

On May 31st, 2014, Jean "Keith" Murray's long-lost daughter wrote us the following:

"THANK YOU! The significance of this photo – one that pops up on the internet related to Alaska’s Bearfoot magazine – is one I had to share, as it literally changed my life: I am the 58 year-old daughter of Jean Keith Murray and I have not seen my father since I was 2 so, effectively, I had never really “seen” him. I had looked for him often over the years and it is no wonder he was hard to find: having moved to Alaska in 1968 to homestead in the remote Kenny Lake area made him nearly “lost”. It was through family obituaries that I found he was in Kenny Lake, but it was through this photo that I experienced my first look at him as a man still alive and well; I was stunned, utterly stunned. I thought immediately of the movie “Heidi” and wished I were Shirley Temple. This old bearded man on a mountainside with a goat captivated me. And introduced me to the man my father had become. I stared and wept. I became excited. One call to the Kenny Lake Mercantile and I was on the phone with him within a day. Thank you. Thank you.
In your debt...
Sandy Murray
(Still in California, but visiting Kenny Lake every chance I get)"

Later in the summer, Sandy wrote:

"My last trip up was in early June and it was a family reunion of sorts. Keith's great-granddaughter (my granddaughter, Sacoya) and one of his other daughters (my half-sister, Alice), along with her son and grandson all made the trip and spent about a week at the homestead, with brother Bob and family driving in from Anchorage for an overnight as well."

Jean "Keith" Murray dropped his French name a long time ago, and in 2016, he celebrated his 98th birthday, still in Alaska.  

  Northcountry Communications. All Rights Reserved.

© 2016, Northcountry Communications Inc.  Linda Weld, Editor All rights reserved, including photographs and maps. 

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Write us at! Bearfoot Travel Magazines/Copper River Country Journal, Gakona, Alaska


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