The newest book from Northern Light Media is Alaskan Roadhouses: Shelter, Food and Lodging Along Alaska’s Roads and Trails, by Helen Hegener. Scheduled for publication November 1, 2015, this 277-page book recounts the fascinating histories of twenty-four roadhouses, and presents historic photos of two dozen more. Along with the individual roadhouse histories are writings by several early travelers who stayed and at the roadhouses and wrote about them, including the Reverend Samuel Hall Young, Frank G. Carpenter, Judge James Wickersham, Leonhard Seppala, and Matilda Clark Buller, who opened a roadhouse near Nome in 1901, at the height of the Nome Gold Rush.
The network of roadhouses along Alaska’s far-flung trails was an interconnected lifeline which made travel possible, and the role they played in the history of the north cannot be overestimated. The roadhouses were a creation of the times in which they flourished, a time when men and women traveled slowly and laboriously over thin trails through an almost unimaginable wilderness, coping day after day with hostile weather, treacherous river crossings, and mountains which loomed and only grudgingly presented high passes through which to cross.
At the end of a long day’s journey the lights of a roadhouse in the distance could only be a welcome sight. No matter how rough the accommodations, the roadhouse signaled warmth and food and a place to rest for a few hours. There would be a place for one’s team, be they dogs or horses, hopefully a shelter for them with good feed and fresh hay. The roadhouse proprietor would have news of the trail ahead, and he would be ready to listen to the travelers’ tales of the trail behind them, so he could pass the information along to the next ones who stopped there.
Alaskan Roadhouses captures the essence of an era when these trailside havens were hailed: “Under no circumstance should the Alaskan roadhouse be confused with the establishments scattered along the highways on the outside that call themselves ‘roadhouses.’ The Alaskan roadhouse is a trail or roadside hotel. It deserves and has earned the high regard that all Alaskan and northern travelers have for the ‘roadhouse.’ Many tales of heroism and bravery could be told of the daring rescue and relief parties that have been headed by the intrepid roadhouse keepers. Story has it that no stranded man or dog has ever been denied food or shelter by these landlords of the lonely northern trails.” ~William E. Gordon, in Icy Hell (Wm. Brendan & Son, 1937)
Pre-publication orders available now, books will be mailed November 1. Alaskan Roadhouses, Shelter, Food, and Lodging Along Alaska’s Roads and Trails, by Helen Hegener, published by Northern Light Media, PO Box 298023, Wasilla, Alaska 99629-8023. 6″ x 9″, over 100 black/white photographs, 277 pages. $24.95 plus $5.00 shipping and handling.
$24.95 plus $5.00 S&H
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