Monday, July 02, 2012

Alaskan Roadhouse

First of all, I am writing this post after dinner.  I served the reindeer sausage with fried potatoes and it was very good.

I have been reading A Cheechako Goes to the Klondike about a man who was part of the Klondike gold stampede and also owned and operated a riverboat.  He describes traveling to Dawson City with a horse and sled and stopping at roadhouses.  They were located every 20 or 30 miles and were places travelers could find a place to sleep and eat and provide for their dogs or horses.

Near Delta Junction, Big Delta State Historical Park includes Rika’s Roadhouse.  Rika Wallen, from Sweden, ran the roadhouse from 1917 into the 1940s.  She raised livestock and grew vegetables and fruits, which allowed her to serve fresh produce, eggs, milk, and meat.  She died in 1969 and is buried on the grounds. 

This is a homestead outbuilding with a sod roof.  The roadhouse and windmill are in the background.  One of the old signs for the roadhouse is displayed in the museum.


Here is the front of the roadhouse.  One of the hanging baskets was really beautiful.


I don’t think modern travelers would be open to using these restrooms.


The roadhouse faces the Tanana River.  A ferry there took vehicles and passengers across the river.  Riverboats also docked nearby.  These two factors probably made the location a good one.

Two items on the grounds were interesting, an old rusty truck from the 1930s or 40s and a dog-house boiler, used by miners to defrost frozen soil so they could dig mining tunnels. I had read about the boiler in the book about the Klondike miner/riverboat captain.


Because it took a year for messages from the US Army in interior Alaska to send a message to Washington, D.C. in 1900, the army built the Washington to Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System (WAMCATS) in 1903.  Soldiers were stationed every 20 to 40 miles along the line.  One telegraph station was along the Tanana River very close to Rika’s Roadhouse.  Notice the ends of the logs are painted white.  That showed it was a telegraph station and both army personnel and civilians knew they could go there to send or receive telegrams.


We walked along a beautiful forest trail to Rika’s grave.




  1. I enjoy reading your Alaska trip -thank you for sharing.
    It brings back many good memories.

  2. Very interesting. Hard to imagine living or traveling there before modern conveniences.