Work on a small museum honoring the peninsula’s pioneering Bush doctors is now underway. On Monday, in front of the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, a crane lifted an antique steam donkey — also known as a steam-powered winch or engine — to make way for the Kenai Bush Doctor’s Historic Cabin.
The cabin museum project is being spearheaded by Dr. Peter Hansen, who moved to Kenai in 1957, when there were no hospitals in the area. He began practicing medicine and used medical equipment he had acquired in Juneau.
“My wife and I moved to Kenai 50 years ago and started a practice in a log structure in our house and we ended up with all kinds of historical medical equipment I brought with me in 1960s,” Hansen said. “I think it’s going to be an addition to the community.”
Hansen watched Monday as a crane prepared to move the steam donkey, which he said was placed on the visitor center’s lawn just a few years ago. He said the steam donkey will be moved from the left of Columbia Ward Fishery sign to the right of the sign. The cabin will be placed on the left.
“They’re moving (the steam donkey) to the other side of Columbia Ward Fishery sign and making way for Kenai Bush doctors museum and the cabin will sit where donkey is right now,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the cabin is still under construction and will be moved to the site in mid-August. Hansen is helping fund the project, along with the Kenai Community Foundation.
Back in March, the city of Kenai passed an ordinance to authorize the city manager to accept the donation from Hansen and the Kenai Community Foundation. The donation increased appropriations to the city’s Park Recreation and Beautification Department by $103,000. The donation helps cover costs of the construction project, which included constructing the cabin, preparing the site and moving and setting up the cabin to the site.