Brochure and Map of Big Delta State Historical Park (SHP) in Alaska. Published by Alaska State Parks.
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Welcome to Big Delta For More Information Milepost 275 Richardson Highway P.O. Box 318 Delta Junction, AK 99737 907-451-2695 www.alaskastateparks.org Rika’s Roadhouse Café & Gifts Open Daily from 10:00am to 4pm, May 15 to Labor Day Seasonal Phone: 907-895-4201 Cell: 507-884-9103 email@example.com State Historical Park Rika Wallen and Marnie Washburn outside the barn, sometime in the early 1920s Communication Imagine sending an email or text message and waiting one year for it to reach its intended audience and receive a response—in 1900 that is how long it took the U.S. Army in interior Alaska to communicate with their headquarters in Washington, D.C. To speed up communications, the U.S. Army built the Washington to Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System (WAMCATS) in 1903. The telegraph station at Big Delta was named McCarty Station after the owner of the trading post. Soldiers were stationed every 20 to 40 miles along the line and endured lonely and harsh conditions. Their assignment was, perhaps, more tolerable at McCarty Station because of its location on the Tanana River—supplies arrived here first and were then distributed to other stations. Harold Washburn Collection, Delta Historical Society The U.S. Army allowed civilians to use the telegraph, which provided vital communication for settlers, miners, and travelers. Big Delta remained an important communication station mpo p rt rtan an nt co comm mmun unicca attio tion n st stat attio ion n when radio and telephones nd tthen hen he n tte ele leph ph hon ones es rreplaced ep pla lace c d ce the WAMCATS. S. S. Rika’s Roadhouse Oxen at Big Delta Harold Washburn Collection, Delta Historical Society Big Delta State Historical Park is in the National ty Register of Historic Places. The Delta Historical Society maintains historical displays throughout the park. A construction team embarking from McCarty Station UAF Archives, Edward R. McFarland Photographs, UAF-1974-130-73 The “Grizzly Gang” Alaska State Parks UAF Archives, Edward R. McFarland Photographs, UAF-1974-130-78 Roadhouse & Homestead A In 1904, entrepreneur Ben Bennett built a trading post and roadhouse near this Native winter camp to provide travelers, miners, and trappers with supplies and shelter. Bennett soon sold his holding to Daniel McCarty and it became known as the McCarty Trading Post. Fourteen non-Native people lived roadhouse and homestead, a river and road, a telegraph and radio— when interwoven, these threads create a rich and colorful tapestry at Big Delta State Historical Park. Big Delta has been significant in the development of interior Alaska for over 100 years. around the trading post by 1906. John Hajdukovich McCarty Trading Post Ted Lowell Collection, Delta Hotorical Society John Hajdukovich, from Yugoslavia, arrived at Big Delta in 1906 to seek his fortune in the nearby gold-rich hills. Hajdukovich acquired the trading post and roadhouse in 1909 and had a new roadhouse built. By 1913, the roadhouse was the center of activity for miners, traders, freighters, military personnel, hunters, and trappers. Hajdukovich lived and worked in this area for almost sixty years. He died in 1965 at age 86. Rika Wallen In 1917, John Hajdukovich hired Swedish-born Rika Wallen to run his business. She bought the roadhouse in 1923 for “$10.00 and other considerations.” Rika’s Roadhouse was open yearround, catering to travelers in summer and locals in winter. Rika raised livestock and grew vegetables and fruits, which allowed her to serve fresh produce, eggs, milk, and meat. Rika ran the roadhouse until the mid- 1940s; she died in 1969 and Wallen is buried on the grounds. Rika Photo Courtesy of Ted Lowell, Delta Hotorical Society P rior to European exploration and settlement, Athabascans traveled here during fall to benefit from the Tanana River’s chum salmon runs. They overwintered and left for their summer camps in spring. When U.S. Army explorers passed through here in the late 1800s, it was during summer—they reported seeing Native dwellings, but no occupants. View of roadhouse from river bank Harold Washburn Collection, Delta Historical Society John Hajdukovich John Hajdukovich Collection, Delta Historical Society Ta na n Doc Cripe and his dogs, Big Delta Harold Washburn CollecƟon, Delta Historical Society a River Walking Tour Guide ne eli Pip Valdez to Fairbanks Trail 1—Valdez 2—Alaska Alaska Road Commission Garage 3—Alaska Alaska Road Commission Outbuilding 4—Ferry Ferry Scale 5—Ferryman’s Ferryman’s Cabin 6—Prospectors’ Prospectors’ Trail 1—Military Military Stable Site 2—Telegraph Telegraph Building 3—Mess Mess Hall Foundation 4—Military Military Residence Legend Features RV Camping Sites Interpretation —————Transportation————– – —————Communication———— — Parking Park Info Toilet Rika’s Roadhouse Café and Gifts Dump Station —Roadhouses and Homesteading— — Water 1—Rika’s Rika’s Barn 2—Homestead Homestead Outbuilding (Museum) 3—Rika’s Rika’s Garden 4—Windmill Windmill 5—Rika’s Rika’s Roadhouse 6—Livestock Livestock Pen 7—Spring Spring House 8—McCarty McCarty Trading Post Foundation 9—Cold Cold Cache 10—Rika’s Rika’s Grave 11—Rika’s Rika’s Roadhouse Café and Gifts Transportation Timeline 1800s—Native Athabaskan winter camp After gold was discovered near Fairbanks in 1903, prospectors traveled to the discovery using a series of Native trails later named the Valdez to Fairbanks Trail. The Alaska Road Commission (ARC) improved the route to a 10-foot-wide dog team and packhorse trail and then to a summer wagon road. The ARC also installed a ferry at Big Delta to allow travelers safe passage across the Tanana River. 1902—Army Lieutenant William “Billy” Mitchell 1902— explores for telegraph line 1903—Fairbanks gold discovery 1903—WAMCATS begins operating 1903— 1903—Prospectors travel on local trails from 1903— Valdez to Fairbanks 1904—Ben Bennett builds trading post and 1904— roadhouse Model T with banner “Fairbanks, Chitina, Valdez! or Bust” Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Crary Henderson Collection, B62.1A.83 1906—John Hajdukovich arrives at Big Delta 1906— 1907—WAMCATS McCarty Station opens 1907— 1909—Hajdukovich acquires trading post 1909— on 1913—Gold discovery at Chisana gh Hi 1913—First automobile over trail 1913— ay w ARC road improvements eventually allowed for automobiles. By 1926, the trip from Valdez to Fairbanks could be accomplished in two days. The road—Alaska’s first highway—was named the Richardson Highway to honor the first head of the ARC, Wilds P. Richardson. 1905—Daniel McCarty purchases trading post 1905— 1905—Alaska Road Commission establishes Valdez 1905— to Fairbanks Trail and installs ferry ds ar ch Ri Even with improvements, traveling through the region was challenging. During winter, travelers experienced cold temperatures, deep snow, blizzards, and avalanches; during summer, marshy terrain, raging rivers, forest fires, and relentless bugs. Many travelers turned around before reaching Fairbanks—some experienced hypothermia, frostbite, and even death. 1896—Klondike gold discovery 1913—Hajdukovich has new roadhouse built 1913— 1914—ARC outbuilding constructed 1914— 1917—Rika Wallen arrives at Big Delta 1917— McCarty National 1925—WAMCATS McCarty Station closes 1925— /Grundle Archives, r Sta 111-SC-9 tion 1657 Still Picture s 1926—Radio replaces telegraph 1926— 1926—Wallen adds new wing on roadhouse 1926— 1927—Trail designated and becomes Richardson 1927— Highway In the 1940s, realignment of the Richardson Highway to meet the new high-truss steel bridge bypassed Rika’s Roadhouse rendering the ferry obsolete. With the completion of the Alcan Highway, the population of Big Delta moved to the junction of the Alcan and Richardson highways, signaling the end of an era. 1935—McCarty Station turned over to ARC 1935— 1937—ARC installs scales at ferry crossing 1937— 1938—Army builds airfield at Big Delta 1938— 1942—Army constructs Alcan Highway 1942— 1943—High-truss steel bridge built across Tanana 1943— River, Richardson Highway realigned—ferry is rendered obsolete 1965—John Hajdukovich dies 1965— eers, of Engin rmy Corps the northern e U.S. A d th te of uc t tr ta Regimen iers, cons mped at Big Del ack sold The 97th ca of 400 bl ng the ay. They le repairi comprised the Alcan Highw hi w 43 of il 19 segment rough Apr r 1942 th Decembe ge. id br Griggs wooden Courtesy Ferry at Big Delta, circa 1910-1920 Museum of History & Industry, #SHS 17416 of William 1969—Rika Wallen dies 1969— 1976—Rika’s Roadhouse listed in National Register of Historic Places 1991—Big Delta Historic District listed in National Register of Historic Places