SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Arkansas to Alaska - The Hard Way!


October 09, 2007

jpg Melvin Owens

Melvin Owens on Pennock Island an island
located near Ketchikan, Alaska, 1993
Photo by Jerry Owens

Former southeast Alaska resident, author Nancy Owens Barnes has announced the release of her first book, South to Alaska, by New Leaf Books. South to Alaska is the true story of her father Melvin Owens who constructed a 47-foot cabin boat in his backyard and cruised it from Hartford, Arkansas, to Ketchikan, Alaska, by way of the Panama Canal in 1973.

Melvin Owens had never been south of the United States border and had never even been on a boat in the open ocean before this trip to Alaska. Thwarted by mechanical problems, storms at sea, illness, thievery and loneliness, Owens feared a deadly end before reaching the place of his dreams and returning to the woman he loved.

The author, Nancy Owens Barnes, not only watched her parents' dream weave its way through the lives of her family, but she boarded the Red Dog for the first leg of its journey along the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers. Born in eastern Oklahoma, and raised in Oklahoma and Arkansas, she moved to Alaska after the Red Dog's arrival there in 1973.

Barnes lived in Alaska twenty-five years in such places as Ketchikan, Juneau, Barrow, and Anchorage before moving to northern Idaho in 1999. Barnes received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Vermont College of Norwich University where she studied creative writing. She is a member of the Idaho Writers League and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. South to Alaska is her first book.


On the Web:

South to Alaska is now available through online and local bookstores.
Autographed copies may be purchased through the book's website at


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Ketchikan, Alaska