The Eureka Roadhouse, shown in the photo to the left, is titled: “Horse-drawn sled loaded with freight and passengers stands in front of Eureka Road House.”
This unusual photograph of a six-horse team is from the Alaska State Library’s William R. Norton Collection of Photographs [ASL-PCA-226 Identifier ASL-P226-776], and the location is given as Kantishna, Denali National Park and Preserve, McKinley Park Region, Interior Alaska.
The community of Kantishna was founded as a gold mining camp in 1905, and like many such camps, was originally called by the popular goldrush name “Eureka.” On the north side of Mt. McKinley, with an elevation of 1,696 feet, Kantishna was in the Kantishna Hills at the junction of Eureka Creek and Moose Creek, three miles north and west of scenic Wonder Lake. Several such camps sprouted with the discovery of gold in the area in 1904, but the settlement which would become known as Kantishna was located closest to the gold-producing creeks. As the nearby gold camps were abandoned, those who stayed in the area migrated to Kantishna, and a post office by that name was established in 1905, officially changing the name of the community.
The Kantishna stampede was the result of relatively simultaneous gold discoveries by Joe Dalton on Eureka Creek and Joe Quigley on Glacier Creek. News of these discoveries in June of 1905 brought thousands of prospectors into the area. Towns such as Diamond, Glacier City, and Roosevelt were quickly established as supply points along the northern river routes used by the stampeders to reach the gold fields of the Kantishna Hills, and in very short order most of the creeks in the Kantishna Hills were staked their entire length. In 1909, a land recording office was established, with local miner Bill Lloyd serving as the first commissioner of Kantishna. In 1919 U.S. Geological Survey geologist Stephen R. Capps reported “since 1906 the population of the Kantishna district had remained nearly stationary, ranging from 30 to 50.”
In 1919-20, C. Herbert Wilson became Kantishna’s commissioner, and he constructed the two-story log building which would become the Kantishna roadhouse as a residence for his family. Over the years, the large structure became a focal point of the community, serving as the post office, commissioner’s office, a community gathering spot and a place for travelers to spend the night. The historic Kantishna Roadhouse still stands on its original site, while nearby is the modern facility and popular tourist destination of the same name.
For more information:
• Snapshots from the Past: A Roadside History of Denali National Park and Preserve, by Jane Bryant (NPS, US Dept. of the Interior, 2011)
• Kantishna Hills Pioneers, 30 minute documentary, free to watch online
• Kantishna—Mushers, Miners, Mountaineers, The Pioneer Story Behind Mount McKinley National Park, by Tom Walker (Pictorial Histories Publishing, 2006)
• Kantishna at Wikipedia
• Fannie Quigley, longtime Kantishna resident