A cache box or bear cache box is a style of container that is used in many places around the world. Places that have a high amount of predatory or scavenging animals tend to have a history of people using similar containers. In Alaska, the main intent of the bear cache is to keep food away from bears and other animals who might be looking for an easy meal. People would employ bear caches to keep perishable and non-perishable goods safe from animals. Bear caches are effective at keeping animals away from meat that had been freshly killed.
The traditional look for Alaska bear caches is a simple design using a box structure that is raised on four tall legs. The legs are spread apart from each other and at an angle that makes it difficult for tenacious bears (and other animals) to reach the food stored in the box. Boxes would typically open from the front, but it wasn’t unheard of to see them accessible from the bottom. The boxes often resembled small wooden cabins on stilts. In a pinch, a tree would be used to support the bear box. The box would encircle the tree, and the tree would act as a support that would hold up the box off the ground. This design resembles a traditional treehouse.
Bear cache boxes are utilized more during the months when bears are roaming around. During the winter, when bears are hibernating, homesteaders would typically take the food from the box and store it in an underground storage area in the permafrost. These storage areas would sit at a temperature that is very similar to a modern refrigerator. The temperature would neither get too warm or too cold.
Now that you know all about bear caches, check out Alaska Cache Box, a quarterly subscription box that brings uniquely Alaskan products to your door! We also want to thank photographer Susan Stevenson for the allowing us to use her photos in this blog post.