Salty Dawg Saloon is a Homer Landmark for Both Locals and Tourists
Dollars on the walls and ceilings of the bar tell stories, go to good causes
HOMER - It started out as one of the first cabins in Homer and was built in 1897. In the past 115 years it’s been a post office, railroad station and grocery store.
Now it’s one of the most famous landmarks in Homer thanks to its Washington-covered walls.
“It's a hole in the wall that's got a gigantic reputation. Everyone has to come here. Everyone wants to come to the Salty Dawg because it's one of the last great, true, old bars of Alaska,” said Bob Knowles, a regular visitor to the bar from Portland, Oregon.
The Salty Dawg Saloon is actually older than the state of Alaska and was founded in 1957.
“A salty dawg is like an old man of the sea,” explained Cecilia Rockett, better known as Sissy.
Sissy’s been a bartender at the saloon for 30 years and knows it has a rich history on the Homer Spit.
“Guys would put money up for guys to have a drink on them on another boat, or they'd put money up if they had a bad fishing trip and they'd always have something to drink on,” said Rockett.
Now it’s not just the fishermen, tourists come from around the world to leave their buck in the bar.
“I think it's amazing. We've lots of good Irish bars and Irish bars are found all over the world but this bar is truly unique. I've never seen so many dollars. In fact I'm surprised it's not robbed sometimes. It's brilliant,” said Ronan Hannigan from Dublin, Ireland.
Each dollar gives you a small insight into the person who left it behind. For some it’s all about their alma mater. “Go Cougs!” or “NDSU 2012.”
Christian from Washington left behind his words of wisdom on a dollar on September 4, 2011: “Live your dreams. Don’t just let them die in your head.
Another dollar simply stated: My dad said we were going salmon fishing but we ended up in this bar!
There are ones remembering those who’ve been died, like Lt. Vito Berretta of the New York Fire Department.
Each dollar has a story to tell. “Probably the most interesting thing I've seen in here is a guy that proposed to his fiancé and he wrote will you marry me. Of course she said yes because the pressure was on and we were all watching so she had to say yes,” said Rockett.
How much moolah is tacked up on the walls and ceiling is anyone’s guess.
“I would say tens of thousands of dollars,” said Hannigan.
“I've heard the bartender say 20 to 30 thousand dollars,” another man chimed in.
Bob Knowles got a little more specific, “$35,753.”
Whether it’s a few dollars for drinks or putting their name on a note, everyone here takes away much more than they leave.
“My favorite part about the bar, my bar, is the fact it's like a home away from home,” said Knowles.
If you return to the Salty Dawg to find your dollar missing, don’t be alarmed. Every year staff take down the money on all the life rings on the walls and donate it to charity. Last year the bar gave thousands of dollars to Relay for Life.