The need for the roadhouses decreased as roads and transportation methods improved. For some roadhouse owners, their ownership was temporary and the money they received from their guests was saved for a special project until their need for funds was met and they sold the house to someone else (ExploreNorth). For instance, John Hajdukovich owned what is now known as Rika’s Roadhouse from 1909 until 1917 when he handed it over to a woman named Rika Wallen. This roadhouse still exists today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Rika’s Virtual Tour). We learned a lot about John and Rika while on our tour of Rika’s Roadhouse and the surrounding structures.
John bought the land that Rika’s is on in 1909. The Valdez-to-Fairbanks Trail passes through the land, which came with a roadhouse and McCarthy’s Trading Post. John tore down the existing roadhouse and in 1913 built what is now Rika’s. Being the busy entrepreneur that he was, John could not keep up with the logistics of running a roadhouse so he handed it over to Rika in 1917 and then she bought it from him in 1923 for $10 and “other considerations.” Rika grew her own garden and raised her own chickens to cook food for her guests. Apparently, although the food was fresh, she was not that great of a cook and the neighboring roadhouse across the Tanana River gave her a run for her money. The roadhouse was still a rather nice place to stay and she kept it running until the late 1940s. Apart from Rika’s Roadhouse, there are very few remaining that have withstood the test of time. Most have burned down or have given into the elements.
Until recently, the Copper Center Lodge, built in 1898, functioned as a hotel for tourists and visitors to stay and experience what it was like to stay in one of the more luxurious roadhouses in Southern Alaska (Going Places). It regrettably burned down this year (2012) due to the building’s bad wiring. We visited the location where it once stood and brooded over its loss. It would have been a nice experience to stay there!
Note: I had trouble with labeling the transitions in this video so, the first part is general knowledge of roadhouses and Rika's Roadhouse, and the second part is Tori's reaction to the "remains" of Copper Center Lodge (we were all very upset!). ENJOY!
-- Alex Robin