The Agate Inn sits on a 16 acre site, three miles from the City of Wasilla and seven miles from the City of Palmer. The grounds mostly remain in an original wooded setting with several gardens and pathways. Most of the buildings have a view through the trees of Pioneer Peak, Twin Peaks or the Talkeetna Mountains. The rear of the property fronts on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. The only animals on the property are our reindeer, native birds, squirrels, snowshoe hares and several moose wandering through during the spring, fall and winter months.
The Inn sits on a glacial moraine area called kame (conical hill deposited by a glacier) and kettle (depression from burial of huge mass of ice). Over the last 1,000 years the area has become heavily wooded with white spruce, birch, aspen, cottonwood and smaller brush. The original Indian Village of Wasilla was located about 1.5 miles northwest of the Agate Inn along the shores of Cottonwood Creek. The Village was located there because of the access to fish. It is believed that the natives from this area were wiped out by disease brought to the area by miners who started gold mining in the Hatcher Pass area around 1897. Part of the original wagon road still runs through the corner of the property owned by the Inn.
The area remained wooded and was subdivided into residential parcels around 1974. We started building our present home in 1975. It was a slow process, doing everything ourselves as funds allowed. The original Inn building was built in 1983 during a decade long building boom of the Alaska Pipeline days. The main inn building was used as a residential rental until we purchased the building in 1989 and began major renovation and conversion to the Agate Suites. In 1996, the property lying between our private home and the suites was acquired. The colonial home located on this parcel was remodeled and the three bedroom Agate Guest House was added to the Inn complex. The two bedroom Susitna Cottage was added in 1998. The 1800 square foot Alaska Meeting Room and 1200 square foot Aurora King Suite were completed in 2002. The Knik Building with four junior suites and two wheel chair accessible suites was completed in 2007.
Agates are seldom alike and display a wide diversity of color and interesting marking, making agate one of the most interesting gems to collect. Agate normally has what looks like moss or bands. Agates form by volcanic action, in cavities under great heat. Some speculate that agate may form from hot gases rich in silicate that reach a lower temperature and pressure that allows it to solidify.
Agates have been collected and used as ornamental objects , such as cameos and artificial eyes, by our earliest societies. Agate gets its name from "achates", first recorded by Pliny the Elder in A.D. 77 in his Natural History. They were found in Sicily near the River Achates. In ancient Rome agates were believed to be ice turned to stone.
At the Agate Inn we call the local semi-clear agate "fossilized ice."
A variety of agate, "autachates", gives off a smell like myrrh when burned. It was believed that to look at an agate would "rest the eyes". Many desert inhabitants hold agate pebbles in their mouths to quench thirst. Roman emperors considered agate cups and vessels their most prized possessions and the best spoils of war. Augustus chose an agate cup as his single reward for when Alexandria was conquered. It was the highest prestige to own a cup or bowl made of agate. An agate cup would cool the wine. Physicians made agate mortars.