The Best Way to See Alaska

The Best Way to See Alaska

A Piece of History in Downtown Talkeetna

Talkeetna roadhouse
"Talkeetna roadhouse" by mazaletel - Flickr: talkeetna roadhouse. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

When looking for the perfect views of Denali, most visitors stop in the quaint town of Talkeetna, Alaska. The town itself is listed on the National Register of Historic places and it is home to a local institution. The Talkeetna Roadhouse offers great food and a taste of pioneer Alaska.

Natives, gold and the railroad

The Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce offers this history of their unique community: Athabascan Indians originally inhabited this area. They were a strong group that refused to let the Russian traders up the Susitna River. In 1892, gold was discovered in the lower reaches of the Susitna River, bringing miners and prospectors into the area. They established gold mines mostly to the west of Talkeetna (about 50 miles) such as Petersville and Collinsville. Some of the claims are still actively mined today. Then in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson selected Talkeetna as the site for the Engineering Commission Headquarters for the construction of the Alaska Railroad that would connect Seward to Fairbanks.


The Talkeetna townsite was established in 1919 when the railroad surveyed and auctioned 80 lots. Half of the lots already had improvements on them. The average price at the sale was $14.25. None of the buyers elected to use the easy payment plan that was offered.


A Talkeetna Institution

Brothers Frank and Ed Lee built the Talkeetna Roadhouse between 1914 and 1917 to service the miners and trappers heading out to find their fortunes in the wilds of Alaska. In the 20s, the town became an encampment for Alaska Railroad workers building the line from Seward to Fairbanks. President Harding even stopped on June 15, 1923 on his way to pound the golden spike which completed the railroad project. As time moved forward, more patrons were coming to the Roadhouse on their way to climb mountains, fish, ski, ride dog sleds, and look at Denali.

Talkeetna Roadhouse interior
"Talkeetna Roadhouse interior photograph" by Dnamolecule - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


Visitors to Talkeetna can experience the Roadhouse in a couple of ways. Some choose to stay in the rooms and cabins while in town. Choices include private, hostel style, rustic cabins, or even the school teacher's apartment over the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum. In the style of the era when the Roadhouse was built, all bathrooms are "down the hall".


Then there is the food! The Roadhouse is famous for huge, home-cooked breakfasts and some of the most delicious cinnamon rolls around. They also serve bakery goods such as fresh bread and pies. The perogies and homemade sauce are highly recommended.


Talkeetna offers many unique-to-Alaska experiences and views. After renting your ABC motorhome, take the road north for fun!

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