Dan MacEachen, founder of Krabloonik in Snowmass, dies at 67
February 29, 2016
Dan MacEachen, founder and owner for 40 years of the Krabloonik dogsledding and restaurant business in Snowmass Village, has died.
MacEachen was under the care of HopeWest Hospice in Grand Junction when he died Saturday afternoon, said his sister Mary Lou MacEachen Wasco. He was 67.
MacEachen founded Krabloonik in 1974, when Stuart Mace, Aspen Hall of Fame member and founder of the Toklat mushing kennel at Ashcroft, gifted him 55 of his world-famous sled dogs. MacEachen named his kennel after the first lead dog he raised at Toklat.
"There was no money exchanged. It was a gift, but I had to earn it. I don't even think we shook hands," MacEachen said in Mace's induction video for the Aspen Hall of Fame, according to a 2008 story in the Aspen Times Weekly. "But the deal was I had to move from Toklat, I had to change the name and I had to take good care of the dogs."
The word "Krabloonik" means "big eyebrows," and is an Eskimo term for "white man," according to an obituary submitted to The Aspen Times by his siblings. (See obituary and memorial information on page A10.)
"If you ever met Stuart, he had those very same eyebrows," said MacEachen in 2008. "People thought I named the business after him and, quite honestly, that certainly is part of it."
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MacEachen competed seven times in the Iditarod, the legendary 1,000-mile dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska. In 2011, he told the Snowmass Sun the high point of the race was the "single focus of man, dog team and Mother Nature."
"I looked at the whole thing as an adventure," he said.
While well-respected in the mushing community, over the years MacEachen came under fire from members of the public who alleged inadequate treatment of the animals at Krabloonik. He pleaded no contest to an animal-cruelty charge in 1988, and last year was found guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty in a plea deal reached after the District Attorney's Office launched an investigation into practices at Krabloonik in 2013.
Former Krabloonik musher Danny Phillips and his wife, Gina, came on as the kennel's directors of operations in 2013, purchasing the business from MacEachen in December 2014.
"When asked to speak of the legacy of Krabloonik's founder Dan MacEachen, the first thing I thought of was 'opportunity,'" the couple said in a written statement. "Dan MacEachen lived a life of seizing opportunity and passing it forward to others. Many young people have come to Krabloonik over the years eager to learn the art of dogsledding. They were given an opportunity, not a job, at Krabloonik."
"A legacy was created over 40 years by Dan that gives a glimpse into a unique world of working with nature and animals and sharing it with the world," Phillips continued. "My most recent memories of Dan is the love and joy that his grandson gave him every moment. Their eyes both lit up with happiness when they were together. The Krabloonik family past and present would like to thank Dan for the opportunities we have received over the years."
Born in Ohio in 1948, MacEachen was the oldest of seven children. In his obituary, his siblings recalled his love for winter sports, dogsledding and woodworking. Members of his family helped get Krabloonik off the ground, they said: His sister Janet opened the restaurant; his brother Jimmy, who now lives in Carbondale, helped with plumbing and construction; brother Jerry, of Snowmass Village, drove sleds and gave kennel tours; brother Ralph was a chef; and daughter Bryna grew up in the family business, later working as a hostess and then coordinating sled rides. Dan's mother's wild mushroom soup recipe remains on the Krabloonik menu to this day.
MacEachen also formerly owned the Maroon Bells Lodge and Outfitters, which runs summertime horseback rides out of T-Lazy-7 Ranch, and at one time had another dogsledding kennel in Alaska.
A mass will be held for MacEachen at St. Mary of the Crown Catholic Church in Carbondale at 10 a.m. on March 4.