Marge Gull painting of Sulivan’s Roadhouse
This painting shows the Sullivan Roadhouse, which was about 278 miles from Valdez (86 miles from Fairbanks).
John and Florence Sullivan (veterans of the Klondike, Nome and Fairbanks gold rushes) built a sod-roofed log roadhouse during the winter of 1905-06 midway along the 55-mile-long Donnelly-Washburn Cut-off. It was a Valdez-Fairbanks Trail winter shortcut that crossed the Tanana River near Washburn House (near Birch Lake) and ran southeast to Donnelly Roadhouse along the Delta River (about 37 miles south of Big Delta). The winter trail bypassed Big Delta and avoided the high winds and overflow common along the section of the Delta River between Big Delta and Donnelly .
After one winter of use, the Alaska Road Commission (ARC) realigned the winter cut-off to avoid several steep grades, stranding the Sullivan Roadhouse four miles off the trail. Undeterred, the Sullivans disassembled the roadhouse, hauled the logs to the new trail location, and rebuilt the structure. This time they added a metal roof, uncommon in early roadhouses.
With steady improvements to the main trail the winter cut-off received less and less traffic, and after the Alaska Railroad was completed, winter traffic disappeared completely. Sullivan Roadhouse was abandoned in 1922.
The land around the roadhouse was eventually annexed into Fort Greely. In 1997 the building was completely disassembled, moved piecemeal, and reassembled in Delta Junction, this time on a new concrete foundation. The building, now the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum, sits next to the Delta Junction Visitor Center.
For more information on Sullivan Roadhouse follow this link.
Genevieve Marguerite (Marge) Gull (who died in 2013) came to Alaska with her husband in 1938, living first in Fairbanks and then Anchorage. She was an amateur painter and painted 49 of the roadhouses along the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail.
I assume that at least some of her paintings were done from photographs since many of the roadhouses disappeared long before Marge came to Alaska. This painting is in the collection of the Valdez Museum. For more of Marge’s roadhouse paintings click here. I’ll be adding more painting periodically.