Gakona Lodge and Trading Post - One of the Original Alaska Roadhouses
Gakona Lodge and Trading Post - Gakona, Alaska
Gakona Lodge is one of
the oldest lodges in Alaska! The cabins are also historic and have been recently
remodeled . If you want to truly experience Alaska, this would be a great place
for you to stay. If you are expecting a fancy hotel then you should probably
consider other accommodations. The cabins all have private bathrooms, and most
of the rooms in the lodge have shared bathrooms as in the days of old. The lodge
has wireless internet and public access to internet. You'll find the lodge cozy
and refreshing. In the winter, the Carriage House Restaurant is closed but the
lodge offer a continental breakfast for nightly customers and home-style meals
for those on extended stays. The cabins are available in the winter for extended
stays. Gakona Lodge is adjacent world class salmon and trout fishing on the
Gulkana, Delta and Klutina Rivers and 2 hours away from awesome halibut fishing.
History of Gakona Lodge(1904)
The Historic Gakona Lodge is located at the confluence of the Copper and Gakona
rivers, at Mile 2 on the Tok Cutoff to the Glenn Highway, 15 miles northeast of
Glennallen and 200 miles north of Anchorage. Gakona Lodge is one of the only
original remaining roadhouses.
The Ahtna Indians have lived in the Copper River basin for 5,000 to 7,000 years.
Gakona served as a wood and fish camp and later became a permanent village. In
1904, Doyle's Roadhouse was constructed at the lodge's present location. The
original lodge is no longer in use but is still standing. In 1910, the roadhouse
became the main stop for the Orr Stage Company. The location was chosen because
it is the junction of the Valdez-Eagle and Valdez-Fairbanks trails and became an
essential stopping point for travelers. Gakona Lodge, which is still in use, was
completed in 1929 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gakona Lodge and Trading Post contains original buildings and old relics that
were found in the area or donated by various people.
Today, travelers on the Tok Cutoff can stay at the Lodge (Mile 2) and see relics
and equipment from the era. You can no longer get your horse re-shod but can
load up on supplies much the same way that pioneers did it one hundred years
ago. 11 buildings on the site are listed on the National Register of Historic
Places. The buildings - all but two of them made of logs - went up in spurts,
timed to improvements in the roads. The original roadhouse (located in the back
corner) was known as Doyle Ranch, after Jim Doyle, who homesteaded in 1902 at
Mile 132 of the Trans-Alaska Military Road (now Mile 2 of the Tok Cutoff), the
name of the new Valdez-to-Eagle Trail.
Doyle grew spuds, vegetables and feed for the horses. In 1904, he built the
lodge, ice house and storage shed - all added to the national register 30 years
ago. The original 1904 roadhouse held living quarters, a kitchen/dining room, a
few private rooms, an upstairs dormitory and a store. A telegraph station stood
nearby. With no bridge to Gakona, summer travelers crossed by boat.
Traditionally, there were road houses located approximately every 20 miles. 20
miles was the distance that an individual could reasonably travel in a day.
Sadly, only a couple of the original roadhouses exist (Gakona Lodge being one of
them.) The remaining have most commonly been destroyed by fire.
By 1905, gold fever had spread to the Tanan River Valley, and a new trail was
blazed from Gakona north to Fairbanks. A stage company made the roadhouse a stop
in 1910, and Doyle added a barn that could hold up to a dozen horses.
Between 1912, when Doyle sold out, and the late 1920's, the property had several
owners, including a mining company. The last of them was Arne Sundt. His
granddaughter resides in the red cabin on the corner of the property. In 1929,
when the Alaska Road Commission widened the Eagle Trail for easier access to
gold mines in Chistochina and Nabesna to the east, Sundt built the larger Gakona
Lodge - the present roadhouse - with 9 private rooms, a bunkhouse (attic), two
bathrooms, a general store and a post office. A wagon repair shop, two cabins
and other buildings were also added.
World War II road building fed the last growth. In 1942, the Army Corps of
Engineers put a garage at Gakona, adjacent the present lodge, to house gear used
to build the Glenn Highway. After the war, the garage became a store. A shower
house was constructed by the Army Corp adjacent the present lodge in 1942 and in
1962 it was converted to the "Trappers Den Bar" and later the "Trapper's Den
Tavern." In 1976, Jerry and Barbara Strang purchased the Lodge from Henra Sundt.
In 2004, the Lodge was purchased from the Strang's by Valori and Greg Marshall.
All structures on the premises have been subsequently added to the National
Register of Historic Places. The lodge and cabins have known famous guests.
Judge James Wickersham, the first federal judge for Interior Alaska, waded
through overflow water to reach the roadhouse in 1905. Artists Ted Lambert,
Eustace Ziegler and Josephine Crumrine spent time here. Bill Egan, the first
governor, stayed often during his years in office. Arctic Explorer Hubert
Wilkins was a guest.
Gakona Lodge has an "infamous" ghost that favors room 5 of the lodge. He smokes
a pipe and seems to enjoy playing tricks. There hasn't been the pipe smoke since
a non-smoking policy was instituted in the lodge. Many people speculate that the
ghost's name is John Paulsen, a customer and business partner many years ago. He
has been a pleasant guardian of this lodge for many years and we continue to
enjoy his company.
Gakona Lodge & Trading Post
Mile 2 - Tok Cutoff Rd.
P.O. Box 285
Gakona, Alaska 99586