The MV Tustumena Oral History Project

Summer 2018 News

To the wonderful people who have been telling us their Tusty stories, and the many people we have not been able to visit yet to hear their stories of the MV Tustumena:

Greetings! We are Michael Sakarias and Lucy Peckham of the MV Tustumena Oral History Project. If this is your first contact from us, we hope that you will take a moment to look at the project website and learn more about who we are and what the project is:

For the last year, we have been recording people’s memories of the MV Tustumena. The response has been amazing, and we are so grateful to those of you who keep sharing the information through your Facebook pages and other networks.

We still need contacts in the smaller westward ports, and referrals are always welcome!

The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has granted us permission to do this project. Our helpful liaison with the AMHS is Danielle Doyle, in the main office in Ketchikan.

We also have the enthusiastic support of Leslie McCartney, Associate Professor and Curator of Oral History at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Leslie will receive and catalogue the materials we collect, assuring that the Tustumena’s significant role in the life of south-central and southwestern Alaska are not lost to memory.

These are the people who have so far generously made time to record their memories with the MV Tustumena Oral History Project:

Peggy Arness

Penelope Goforth

Kaare Elde

Karl Elde

Rae Elde

Virginia Allen

James Allen

Dan Rough

Peter Toloff

Jodi Toloff

Mike Lasota

Darryl Schaefermeyer

Judith Christiansen

John “Andy” Anderson

Kari Anderson

Willard Dunham

Allen King

Pamela Oldow

Dian Rodriguez

Betty Arriaga

William Hopkins

Wynn Hopkins

Robert Kern

Susan Lutz

Thank you all!!

Photo Op! We are looking for photos of the Tustumena to include in the archive. If you have old photos to share, and access to a scanner, we welcome your initiative! Please include the names of the people in any photo, the date and location taken, and any other pertinent information. Then email them to us at

Obviously, we are not done! We have a list of folks from Unalaska to Scotland who have stories to share, and we hope to make many more contacts soon, because…

This August 21, we are scheduled to depart Homer aboard the Tustumena on a round trip to Dutch Harbor/Unalaska.

We’ll be collecting stories enroute and when time permits, in ports of call. It is also our plan to record the ship, all the unique sounds of the MV Tustumena herself. This way, the sound of the Tusty will be part of the Oral History Archive as well. She’ll “speak” for herself!

News Flash! It’s never a dull moment with the Tusty. On June 24, 2018, the Alaska Native News and other news outlets reported that a whale had breached into the side of the Tustumena, damaging one of the Tusty’s stabilizer fins.

The Coast Guard says the Tusty is fine, but with that broken stabilizer fin we might get a taste of Tusty travel as it used to be!

To those of you who have served aboard her or been served by her, the historic significance of the Tustumena is not in question. Alaska is a young state, and the entire history of the AMHS is within living memory. We need to record firsthand stories now while it is possible.

This Report #1 is being sent to you because either you have shared your email with us or someone you know has. If you wish to be removed from this list, please email us at and we will promptly remove your name.

We welcome your comments, suggestions, and referrals! Please use the above email address.

This project is self-funded. UAF and AMHS are organizational sponsors of the MV Tustumena Oral History Project, not fiscal sponsors.