The Sourdough Lodge, constructed
between 1903 and 1905, was one of the oldest continuously-operating
roadhouses in Alaska. Built along the route of the Valdez Trail,
now the Richardson Highway, the Sourdough Lodge figured prominently
in the history of the construction of transportation corridors
in interior Alaska. Alaskan roadhouses, spaced about 15 to 20
miles apart on roads and trails throughout the territory, provided
food and shelter for the thousands who came to the North beginning
in the late 1880s.
Shortly after the Klondike gold discoveries
of 1897-98, Congress enacted legislation which provided for
the construction of roads in Alaska. By 1899, a survey crew
under Lt. William P. Abercrombie cleared a trail (the Trans-Alaska
Military Road) from Valdez to Eagle City. Following the gold
rushes to the Tanana Valley, a crude trail was surveyed from
a point on the Trans-Alaska Military Road near Valdez to Fairbanks.
It was known as the Valdez Trail. Several telegraph stations
and many roadhouses, including Hart's Road House (later called
Sourdough Lodge) were located along this trail. By 1907 the
Sourdough was one of several roadhouses built along the trail
to serve thousands of prospectors and adventurers who traveled
on the 370-mile long trail in summer and winter. The four-room
building was constructed primarily of logs.
The Sourdough Lodge was listed in the
National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 1974 and
was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 2, 1978.
On December 27, 1992, a fire completely destroyed the Sourdough
Lodge; the Landmark designation was withdrawn on June 3, 1994.