Salty Dawg Saloon is a popular watering hole in Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska, and the most cherished landmark of the Spit, which is understandable, being the only bar on the 7.2 km long piece of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay. While there is no shortage of bars on the town, locals like to drive out of the way and into Homer Boat Harbor, through the world’s longest road built into ocean waters to gather at this peculiar joint famous for “hosting ugly sweater parties and Sunday football celebrations.” Even more peculiar is the interior. Almost every available space on the walls and ceilings are adorned with dollar bills – signed and stuck by visitors, as well as personal items such as rings, clothing items and maritime trophies from boats that went down at sea. Many visitors to Homer, even those who don't drink alcohol, make Salty Dawg Saloon a must-see stop to sample the essence of Homer.
Salty Dawg Saloon was one of the first structures that went up on this newly established Alaskan town in 1897. For twenty years, it served as the town’s first post office, a railroad station, a grocery store, and a coal mining office. In 1909 a second building was constructed, and it served as a school house. And at one time, it housed three adults and eleven children.
In the late 1940′s, it was acquired by Chuck Abbott to be used as an office for Standard Oil Company. In April of 1957, he officially opened it as the Salty Dawg Saloon. By the late 1950′s the Salty Dawg Saloon had a building adjacent to it, coinciding with The Alaska Territory becoming the 49th state of the union in January 1959.
Earl D. Hillstrand, an attorney, small businessman and member of the Alaska House of Representatives, purchased it in 1960. The log structure housing the Salty Dawg was moved to its present location after being flooded by the powerful 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. The distinctive lighthouse tower was added around the same time to cover a water storage tank, thus completing one of Homer’s more historical and recognizable landmarks. Aside from a few decorative additions in more recent years, like a wraparound wooden walkway, the exterior has remained largely unchanged.
The tradition of sticking dollar bills started a few decades ago when a man walked in and tacked a dollar on the wall of the log cabin and explained that his friend would be by later and the buck was to buy him a drink. It started exploding in the early ‘90s, when tourism started to pick up. Today, it’s hard to find a spot where there is no money.
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