Holding On To Treasure

Posted: August 1, 2022 at 9:21 am

Jase Stegall keeps historic businesses bustling in his hometown of Jarbidge

By Dianna Troyer

If not for a phone call about businesses for sale in his hometown, Jase Stegall says he would still be building ice roads and moving massive oil rigs in northern Alaska.

Jase was working along Alaska’s North Slope when his mom called to tell him a longtime friend, Dot Creechley, was selling her iconic businesses in Jarbidge—a mountainous village in northeastern Nevada with a year-round population of 20.

Toasting the signature drink, the Jarbidge Cooler, Carol Patton, Jase and his partner, Jane, relax at the Outdoor Inn. PHOTO COURTESY OF JASE STEGALL
Toasting the signature drink, the Jarbidge Cooler, Carol Patton, Jase and his partner, Jane, relax at the Outdoor Inn. PHOTO COURTESY OF JASE STEGALL

“After 48 years, Dot was ready to sell,” he says. “When I called to make her an offer, she told me I was the only one she knew who could do all the behind-the-scenes
work and would care about keeping them open for locals as well as travelers.”

Jase never hesitated about buying the Red Dog Saloon—built during a 1910 gold rush—and its sister properties: the Outdoor Inn with its café and 17-room motel, the Barn Hotel, and an RV park.

He and his partner, Jane, have been running the businesses since February 2018. “I love it here. This is home the rest of my life,” says Jase, 47. “Until a home came up for sale, we lived with my mom in the house my grandpa built in 1983.”

In 2019, Jase bought his current home and a local gas station.

“We offer diesel and ethanol-free gas 24/7,” he says.

After growing up in Jarbidge, Jase moved away for 30 years, working as a ranch hand, hunting guide and trucking company owner. When a trucker friend told him about a job opening at Prudhoe Bay, he was eager to see Alaska. For seven years, Jase worked for Peak Oilfield Services in North America’s largest oil field.

“All those jobs gave me experience to keep these businesses going,” he says. “I’ve learned to fix about anything. Whatever job I’ve had, I treat people how I want to be treated. Customer service is everything. From traveling throughout the West for work, I acquired a love of good food and serve what I’d like to eat myself.”

The menu at the inn has signature entrées, desserts and beverages. He says the prime rib “is top quality Star Angus cooked to perfection, and the tri-tip is smoked just right.”

His mother, Carol Patton, makes homemade pies and ice cream that get rave Tripadvisor reviews. Her peach pies and ice cream flavors of maple bacon and salted caramel are particular favorites.

For a beverage, Jase promises the Jarbidge cooler will refresh and invigorate.

“It’ll make you want to jump on a riding lawn mower even if you don’t have a lawn to mow,” he says. “It’s mainly cucumber juice, lime, mint and vodka, plus a few of my secret tweaks.”

To run the businesses, Jase is not only a chef and bartender, but storyteller, historian, maintenance man and trucker.

Customers from throughout the United States and around the world ask him what it’s like to live in Jarbidge year-round.

“The people we meet are amazing and keep us energized, which is good because we work seven days a week,” Jase says. “Name a country in Europe or South America and we’ve had someone from there come in.

“When people ask why I live here, I tell them to look around. You won’t find a prettier more peaceful place.”

The west fork of the Jarbidge River with trophy trout lures anglers, while rapids attract rafters. Hikers, mountain bikers and off-road enthusiasts explore the Jarbidge Wilderness Area with eight peaks above 10,000 feet, including the iconic Matterhorn—named for the mountain it resembles in Switzerland.

He says clientele often hear about Jarbidge through Backcountry Discovery Routes (ridebdr.com)—a nonprofit that maps the nation’s unpaved byways.

It’s a destination, too, for big game trophy hunters.

“We even had Willie Robertson from the show, ‘Duck Dynasty’ come in when he was on a guided hunt. He’s really down to earth.”

Ice Roads
When customers learn Jase helped build ice roads, they ask whether the television show “Ice Road Truckers” is realistic.

“They have drama for viewers that we never had,” Jase says. “When you’re working in an Alaskan winter and it’s minus 20 to minus 60, you take every precaution. It’s unforgiving. You cannot make mistakes.”

They built roads and moved 1,000-ton oil rigs with 137-foot-tall derricks while the wind blew constantly.

“Whatever we did, we had an extensive plan with about two hours of paperwork before we even started,” he says. “There was as much drama as watching seniors pushing walkers to play golf. Sometimes our top speed was 2 1/2 miles an hour.”

From December to late March, semitruck drivers follow a 68-mile ice road over the Beaufort Sea from the Prudhoe Bay to Point Thomson to resupply oil field workers. Other ice roads 30 to 100 miles long connect oil fields.

Behind the Scenes
The perseverance, patience and perfectionism Jase honed in Alaska helps him deal with the logistics of stocking his Jarbidge businesses with food.

“No one delivers food because we’re so remote,” he says. “I bought a refrigerated truck to keep the food fresh.”

Every two to three weeks during summer, he drives to the nearest town, Twin Falls, for groceries. The 90-mile trip with 18 miles of dirt road takes about two and a half hours one way.

Beer is delivered twice in summer.

“During winter, I drive to Jackpot every six weeks and meet the distributor’s truck,” Jase says. “It’s only 85 miles but takes about three hours one way due to the dirt roads.”

Jase and Jane keep the Outdoor Inn open May to November.

“Then we move across the street to the Red Dog Saloon for winter. It has a wood stove and is easier to heat for customers, who are mostly snowmobilers and cross country skiers,” he says. “The winter scenery is gorgeous, and they know they’ll get a good warm meal at the end of the road.”

Reviewers on Tripadvisor describe Jase and his staff as “Old West meets Southern hospitality. The bar is unbelievably stocked, the food excellent and the ambiance exactly what you would expect in a town with no paved roads.”

Another reviewer wrote, “It’s Americana, an adventure destination.”

“People looking for solitude like it here,” Jase says. “It’s also a fun summer job to work here. You have to come and see for yourself what Jarbidge is all about.”

The Jarbidge Wilderness Area attracts hikers, mountain bikers, hunters and anglers. PHOTO BY SYDNEY MARTINEZ/ TRAVEL NEVADA
The Jarbidge Wilderness Area attracts hikers, mountain bikers, hunters and anglers.  PHOTO BY SYDNEY MARTINEZ/TRAVEL NEVADA