This park is home to Rika’s Roadhouse, an essential stop for Alaskan travelers in the early 20th century.
Big Delta State Historic Park is a 10-acre historical park on the banks of the Tanana River, eight miles north of Delta Junction. The park preserves Rika's Roadhouse and Landing, an important crossroads for travelers, miners, and soldiers on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail from 1909 to 1947.
Things to Do
The historic Rika’s Roadhouse serves as the centerpiece of Big Delta State Historical Park, where visitors can explore Alaska history on a self-guided walking tour through the roadhouse, several restored buildings, and a museum. John Hajdukovich built Rika's Roadhouse in 1910, and in 1923 he sold it to Rika Wallen, a Swedish immigrant who managed the roadhouse, for "$10.00 and other considerations," presumably in lieu of wages. The roadhouse was immediately renamed Rika's. Rika ran the roadhouse into the late 1940s and lived there until her death in 1969.
The roadhouse was restored, right down to the original kerosene crate floor, in the late 1970s and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rika's Roadhouse, the adjacent outbuildings, and the property along the Tanana River have been preserved for visitors to explore and learn about the history of the roadhouse and surrounding community.
From mid-May to mid-September, visitors can take a self-guided walking tour through the museum complex, which includes the WAMCATS station, a Swedish-style barn, and a sod-roofed cabin with pioneer artifacts dating from 1900 to 1950. Some rooms have been decorated with 1920s-1930s period furniture and accessories donated by local residents.
A concessionaire operates Rika's Roadhouse Cafe and Gift Shop, open May 15 to Labor Day, serving up sandwiches, soups, ice cream, and baked goods. In addition to homemade meals, visitors can shop for Alaska made gifts and artwork at the gift shop.
At the turn of the century, the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail became one of the most important access routes to the Alaska Interior during the Fairbanks gold rush of 1902 and the 1903 construction of the Washington to Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System (WAMCATS) telegraph line. Originally created for pack and saddle horses, the trail evolved into a winter road and eventually was upgraded for wagon traffic and then automobile traffic. The road was designated the Richardson Highway in 1927.
To support the influx of travelers, enterprising citizens built roadhouses along the entire route. Typically owned by homesteaders, these inns provided travelers with a convenient stop to get a warm meal and good night’s rest. These establishments served as hubs of local commerce, and many, like Big Delta, were the foundation for townships.
Facilities and Camping
In addition to Rika’s Roadhouse Café, Big Delta State Historical Park has a camping area with 23 campsites that include a picnic area, toilets, water, and a dump station. The Ferryman Cabin, a historic cabin on the Tanana River, is available to reserve for overnight stays. Brochures are also available for a self-guided tour of the park.
Big Delta State Historic Park is at Mile 274.5 of the Richardson Highway, eight miles north of Delta Junction and 86 miles south of Fairbanks.
For more information, visit the Big Delta State Historical Park website.