What follows is the true story of how the now world-famous Double Musky Inn, a Girdwood, Alaska landmark – got its start.
Julian “Moe” Maule was a huge, ex-lumber jack that my father Ray Dougherty met in Alaska back in the late 1950s, and they quickly became best friends.
While Moe was a great big fellow with a booming voice and a robust laugh, my dad was short and stocky. Together, the two made an interesting pair.
One day, Moe bought some land in Girdwood, Alaska, just across the creek from what is now Mt. Alyeska Resort. But back in the day when Moe purchased his land, there wasn't much there except the tiny town and some cabins.
Moe and my dad both liked to drink and laugh, and the two had many adventures while doing both -
After Moe bought his property, he decided that because he was once a lumberjack, he could clear the land himself and build a small cabin. My father had worked in his family's lumber mill in Northern California, so he had lots of experience cutting down trees as well.
A case or two of beer, some chain saws, and Moe and dad began their adventure.
Then, after the trees were cleared, they needed to remove the tree stumps. My dad thought they were going to wrap a chain around each stump and pull them out with a pickup. But Moe had made other plans.
Moe had purchased a case of dynamite and thought it would be more fun for them if they placed a stick of dynamite under each stump and blew them up, one at a time. So, a drunk Moe and Ray put a stick of dynamite under a stump, lit the fuse and headed for cover where they could watch the stump get launched into the air.
Somehow, the two drunks managed to survive their adventure, clearing the Girdwood property and then building a small cabin.
At one point, our family lived in the completed cabin for several weeks. Each weekend, Moe, and his wife and babies, would visit.
Later on, when our family moved into our home in Anchorage. Moe and his clan, and my mom and dad, me, sister Anna and brother Tom would all meet for a Saturday or Sunday at the cabin.
One day, we arrived at the homestead and noticed a new building sitting on the property. It was about the size of two outhouses.
To learn what the small building was, take a look at the short, funny video below where I tell the story. You'll be delighted that you did. The story continues following the video.
Our story continues
Some years later, Julian “Moe” Maule decided to build a bar for skiers. He named it the Double Musky Inn.
When you came into the Girdwood area, there was a fork in the road. If you went to the right, you headed over a small bridge and on to Mount Alyeska. If you turned left, you headed down a road where you'd spot occasional cabins. Moe's Double Musky Inn is located there.
At the fork in the road was a small island with several trees. Moe's first business sign was nothing but an unpainted plywood board nailed to a tree. The following words were hand painted in black. “Double Musky Inn – Booze, Beans, Bunks”
Oh, and one other thing – I've read stories about where the name “Double Musky” came from, but I know the real story.
One day, I asked Moe where he came up with the name. Moe burst out in his characteristic big booming laugh and said, “it was from a joke your dad and I came up with. We used to go into bars in Anchorage, go up to the bartender and order a “Double Musky with a beer chaser” said Moe with a big laugh. “But we just invented the name because we wanted to see what the bartender would do.”
As Moe continued his story, he said, “these bar tenders would say things like “let's see, isn't that a double shot of this with a dash of that? Moe laughed some more and said, “it was so much fun when your dad and I would say “yes! That's it!” And these bar tenders would happily start mixing this concoction, serve it to us with a beer chaser and your dad and I would end up drunk from this stuff”.
Years later, after our dad had passed away, my mom and me and my brother Tom were more than a little surprised when we learned that the Double Musky Inn had become world-famous. I called our sister Anna who still lives in Alaska and said, “I heard that Moe's Inn has become world-famous?” We both knew that our dad would have loved it.
And to think, it all got started when Julian “Moe” Maule and my dad, Ray Dougherty, got drunk and cleared some land in Girdwood, Alaska.
Today, the Double Musky Inn hosts a fine restaurant with customers that come from around the world.
If you live in Alaska, or anywhere on planet earth, the Double Musky Inn is a place you really need to include on your “bucket list.”
And when you visit, take a moment to look around the place, inside and outside, and remember this story.
And as you're sitting at the bar or enjoying your meal, you can smile and think to yourself, “I know the story of how this place got its start.” Or better yet, tell the story to everyone there. I bet they'll love it.
I have spoken with Julian Maule and told him about this story. He loved it.
Then Julian told me that when it was time to say goodbye to the 2 seat outhouse, he gathered a crowd, put 3 sticks of dynamite on the roof and held them in place by covering them with moss.
Julian lit the fuse and moments later, the dynamite blew the 2 seat outhouse to smithereens to the cheers of the crowd.