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He left Wisconsin as a young man in 1975 and moved to Alaska, not to be famous or well known, but to live self sufficiently and get away from it all. But over time, Heimo Korth became a legend. Today, Heimo and his wife Edna live more remotely than anyone else in Alaska. They are the only permanent residents of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, having settled there just prior to its designation, and will almost certainly be the last.
Human settlement is no longer permitted in the refuge, and the Korths’ permit to live there expires with the death of their last daughter. A total of seven cabin permits exist in the Refuge, an area the size of the state of South Carolina, but the others only allow seasonal use for fur trapping.
Living 150 miles above the Arctic Circle, more than 100 miles from any sign of civilization, and 250 miles from the nearest road, some might think of Heimo as a crazy hermit. But not if you knew him. Heimo and Edna are friendly and inviting, social and fun. They just choose to live differently than most.
Life in the Arctic wilderness is the ultimate challenge. Every waking hour is spent preparing for winter, or surviving it. Food is scarce in this country, and the Korths must go far and wide to gather it. They hunt caribou, moose and small game, and gather plants, berries and roots. They catch fish in the nearby river. They cut mountains of firewood and haul water daily. To prevent overharvest of the scarce resources, they rotate between multiple cabins each year.
To supply the items they can’t get from the land, Heimo runs a trapline through the winter and sells fur pelts for cash. The main furbearers he targets are marten, lynx, wolverine and beaver. Between trapping and keeping warm, there’s no rest of the Korths, even in the dark days of the Alaskan winter.
Heimo is now in his 60’s, but has no plans of leaving his Arctic home. He hopes to die there. Living in a place where survival is a constant struggle, and work almost never stops, you’d think one might be tired and unhappy. But Heimo and Edna seem to be the some of the most truly satisfied people in the world. There’s something about hard work and living with a purpose that keeps one both physically and mentally satisfied, and the freedom of living on your own terms seems, at least to folks like Heimo, much more valuable than a good job and a retirement account.
The Korths first came into the spotlight when featured in a 1993 National Geographic documentary, “Braving Alaska”. A decade later, Heimo’s cousin, James Campbell, wrote “The Final Frontiersman”, a book about Korth’s unique life and journey (click here to find the book, audiobook or ebook on Amazon). More recently, Vice Magazine spent some time with the Korths and put together a documentary, “Heimo’s Arctic Refuge”. And finally, the TV show “The Last Alaskans” features Heimo and the other cabin permit holders in the refuge. All are well worth discovering; they paint a picture of a lifestyle most can only dream of.
Ann Vibson says
I think you and Edna are the most perfect couple I have ever seen, it seems so sincere. I wish the two of you plenty of pelts from your traps. Edna the day you killed two wolves at once was very impressive. Take care
Jonathan Walraven says
I’m 51 years old and my goal and dream would be to meet him and Edna Korth . I Idolize himo
You’re my hero.
Tami Terry says
Your perseverance is so impressive. I have some similar skills, but not to your level. Thank you for sharing a bit of your lives with us in the lower 48!
Is the series over? Would love to see more.
Shelley Pere' says
This show The Last Alaskans has blessed me. You and Edna are so precious. I pray for you and all the cast everyday. I truly hope the show isn’t cancelled
I love the show, and Heimo and Edna seem like such wonderful people. Would live to spend at least a week with the two of you. Maybe a contest to win a week with Heimo and Edna??
Heimo and Edna and children,
Merry Christmas from Finland, land of reindeers and Santa!
One Who look at your reality show
Barb Bechtel says
I miss the show and all the families that live in the refuge. Grieved as I watched Bob Harte decline and then die. Does your daughter and family still live in the Refuge? Wondering if this warmer weather is making an impact in the area and making it difficult to live there.
Julia and Chris says
To Edna and Heimo: you show how truly love keeps two people together! In this trying world it’s so easy to give up but you are leaving an example for your family to live by and we hope there is much love in the families as there has been for the two of you! Many prayers and blessings from Tennessee. We love the show!!! Thank you for giving us the experience through TV!
I usually hate “reality tv” but I just watched all 3 seasons of The Last Alaskans on Hulu…twice! Heimo and Edna were my favorite homesteaders. I could see how happy they truly were. There’s some things that just can’t be faked. Although I’ve always been a city girl without the physical strength to live like this, watching the Korths gave me a certain longing that I never felt before…especially now that the lower 48 is plagued by Covid, a life of isolation seems very desirable! Like others here, I am wondering how the climate change is affecting their Arctic lives, and the patterns of the animals they depend on. I wish the best to them and their family.
I would love to spend one season with Heimo and Edna I love to hunt and fish
Jonathan walraven says
My name is Jonathan Walraven
James Dolan says
loved the program, loved the characters especialy hiemo and edna, really sad when bob died
B. Blais says
Edna and Heimo,
Thanks for sharing with us the love and respect you have for one another.
If only for a brief moment, my wife and I would love nothing better than to have the opportunity to just sit and talk with you about the importance of family and life in general over a good hearty cup of coffee and warm fire.
Heimo, I have embraced your term of endearment ‘precious’ when I address my wife during those special moments. Of course, ‘precious’ is all about you and Edna, but we marvel at how powerful a sentiment that word happens to be.
Happy trails to you and Edna
Barney & JoAnn
Diane Governor says
I can’t get enough of the show. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched all four seasons. What a blessed way to live. I know I couldn’t live this way due to my health problems since the age of 12, but if I was healthy I would definitely love to live that way even knowing it is brutal, hard living and dangerous. The benefits outweigh the hard life. The beauty of the country is amazing.
What about Krin and her family? Did they return and keep living there?
I also would like to know about the Seldens, Charlie, and the Brother and Sister that live by the lake.
LJ Heming says
I wouldlike to see how they get gas and supplys they can’t grow or hunt and do they ever come into civilization and how do they get there .the show never answers those questions of gas or selling furs please let us know how they do it like how does Charlie get gas for his plane ext
Pat m says
The us govt aka trump wants to ruin the refuge to drill for oil I hope for your sake and the refuge that it doesn’t happen so you can live in a beautiful place
when I had cable I used to watch it all the time wish I could see it again and how they get gas and stuff
Real disappointed the show stopped. It was the only totally unscripted show on television. The only truly “reality” television. I’ve wondered if Krin and family stayed after the show stopped filming. I supposed it was a source of income they maybe needed to rely on.
I also wonder. Wish there was a way to find out how everyone is doing.
Jeannette Buckner says
PLEASE BRING BACK A SEASON 5
I also wonder. Wish there was a way to find out how everyone is doing. Yes
David Turner says
I cant believe Discovery canceled such a great show, this show truly allowed the world to see country they can only dream of.
I will stop watching any and all of Discovery’s shows and channels because they dont know what real TV shows are.
God bless the families who live out there.
Steve F. says
I enjoy watching The Last Alaskan and Heimo and Edna Korth are one of my favorites. The program seems realistic in what they do and how they plan things out. Hope they continue the series. Also like Life Below Zero. The old series. The Next Generation I just can’t get behind. I’m a hunter. I know you don’t hunt large game with a pistol. Your pistol is a revolver of 357 or 44 mag and used for backup backup.
I loved the Last Alaskans. Have read the book written about Heimo.
Sure miss watching Heimo & Edna on The Last Alaskans. Best show on TV. What a life they’ve carved out for themselves in the Refuge.
I agree Christy! I enjoyed watching all the families and felt so bad for Bob. His wife and daughter did a beautiful memorial for him with spreading his ashes.
Did Heimo pass away?
No, Heimo is doing well.