Before construction of the first road to Fairbanks in 1917 (today's Richardson Hwy.), travelers to the Interior followed a trail on basically the same route by horse in summer and dog sled in winter, stopping at roadhouses that provided food and shelter a day apart or less on the 2-week trip. Two well-preserved examples of the roadhouse system survive near Delta Junction.
In 1996, the Army saved the 1905 Sullivan Roadhouse (tel. 907/895-4415), which had stood abandoned since 1922 on what became an Army bombing range. Today the log building stands near the town visitor center and is open free of charge in summer Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. Many of the Sullivan's original belongings have been set back in their original places, giving a strong feel for frontier life, but the heart of the restoration is the authentic hospitality of the local volunteers who show off the place with great pride.
The next stop on the trail beyond Sullivan's Roadhouse was 16 miles toward Fairbanks. Rika's Roadhouse and Landing, 8 miles northwest of Delta at mile 275 on the Richardson Highway (tel. 907/895-4201; www.rikas.com/roadhouse), still makes a pleasant stop on your drive. This roadhouse lasted later than the Sullivan's because drivers had to board a ferry here to cross the Tanana River until the 1940s, and the landing was the end of the line for Tanana sternwheelers. The 1906 log building, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been altered too much by its gift shop to feel authentic, but the grassy 10-acre compound completes a vivid scene of Alaska pioneer life with surviving outbuildings, including telegraph cabins, a museum, a barn, a gorgeous vegetable garden, and livestock pens. The entire site overlooks the riverbank, and an impressive suspension bridge carries the trans-Alaska pipeline over the Tanana just beyond the park. A private operator does a good job of managing the site for the state of Alaska, including operating a restaurant that serves simple meals daily from 9am to 5pm; the grounds and museum are open daily from 8am to 8pm from May 15 to September 15.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.