Tag Archives: Sizeland’s Roadhouse

Sizeland’s Roadhouse

Photo caption: "Sizeland's Roadhouse, 6/20/'22." Bottom left corner of this photo is torn off along with some writing. This photo is a side view of Sizeland's property shown in UAF-1969-89-108 and UAF-1969-89-109. Cabin closest to the camera has a sawhorse in front of the door. A cache with a painted door is located to the left of the cabin; a flat-roofed building sits to the left of the cache. [UAF-1969-89-110]

Photo caption: “Sizeland’s Roadhouse, 6/20/’22.” Bottom left corner of this photo is torn off along with some writing. This photo is a side view of Sizeland’s property shown in UAF-1969-89-108 and UAF-1969-89-109. Cabin closest to the camera has a sawhorse in front of the door. A cache with a painted door is located to the left of the cabin; a flat-roofed building sits to the left of the cache. [UAF-1969-89-110]

I haven’t had much luck finding information about the roadhouse known as Sizeland’s, which was somewhere near Nenana; the only real information I have found is from three fascinating photographs at the VILDA archives, but if my connection of the dots is correct, it’s a chilling story with a sad ending. Like all of the other roadhouse tales, I’m still researching Sizeland’s, but here’s what I have so far:

The 1923-24 edition of Polk’s Gazetteer and Directory includes an interesting description of the village of Nenana:

NENANA. Pop 1000. Situated on the left limit of the Yukon River near its confluence with the Nenana. 60 m sw of Fairbanks, banking point. With the advent of the U S Government railroad this place has grown from a trading post of a few people to one of the progressive cities of the North. Being the first point in Central Alaska where the Government railroad reaches navigable water, immense docks, which were constructed by the Alaskan Engineering Commission, line the waterfront. Has Presbyterian and Catholic churches and Episcopal church and school. A weekly newspaper, The Nenana News, is published. The opening up and developing of the Nenana coal fields, which lie but a short distance south, means a great deal to this town, as well as the whole Tanana district. The Mount Mc-Kinley National Park lies 75 m sw of Nenana, which is the outfitting point for touring parties into this great natural park. Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System. Am Ry Express.

Photo caption: "Sizeland's Roadhouse, Nenana - Fairbanks [Trail? Train?], 6/20/21 [6/20/22]" Surrounding photographs in this collection are dated in year, 1922, so 1921 may be incorrect. This photo shows a man standing with his hands on his hips by the doorway of a cabin facing two other men sitting down. There's a chair to the right of the doorway. Two smaller cabins are located to the left. A dirt path leading up to the larger cabin has been worn away through a dense patch of brush. [UAF-1969-89-108]

Photo caption: “Sizeland’s Roadhouse, Nenana – Fairbanks [Trail? Train?], 6/20/21 [6/20/22]” Surrounding photographs in this collection are dated in year, 1922, so 1921 may be incorrect. This photo shows a man standing with his hands on his hips by the doorway of a cabin facing two other men sitting down. There’s a chair to the right of the doorway. Two smaller cabins are located to the left. A dirt path leading up to the larger cabin has been worn away through a dense patch of brush. [UAF-1969-89-108]

In the directory section there are listings of trappers, miners, longshoremen, fishermen, dozens of Alaska Railroad officials and workmen, and, oddly, a name identified as the “city scavenger.” What is not included, oddly enough, is any listing for the name of Sizeland, or Sizeland’s Roadhouse. Since the photos of the roadhouse are from 1922, this glaring omission a year later struck me as rather odd.

A search for Sizeland and Nenana turns up some interesting and potentially related records.The 1930 Census Record for Nenana, in the Fourth Judicial District, Alaska, United States, includes the following: “James Sizeland lived in Fourth Judicial District County, Alaska in 1930. He was the head of the household, 54 years old, and identified as white. James was born in England around 1876, and both of his parents were born in England as well. In 1930, James was not married. He immigrated to the United States in 1909.”

Could this be the same Sizeland the roadhouse is named after? The dates align properly, and the name is unusual enough that mere coincidence is unlikely.There’s a short mention of James Sizeland in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on January 10, 1930: “James Sizeland, who has a homestead between Fairbanks and Nenana, arrived here on yesterday’s train.”

Photo caption: "Sizeland + horses, 6/20/'22." Bottom left corner of this photo is torn off along with some writing. This photo shows a man on the left side of a fence with his right arm extended, hand upright, feeding two horses fenced in on the other side. Behind the horses are a cache with a painted door, and a flat-roofed log building. [UAF-1969-89-109]

Photo caption: “Sizeland + horses, 6/20/’22.” Bottom left corner of this photo is torn off along with some writing. This photo shows a man on the left side of a fence with his right arm extended, hand upright, feeding two horses fenced in on the other side. Behind the horses are a cache with a painted door, and a flat-roofed log building. [UAF-1969-89-109]

If this is the same person, his fate seems to have been an unhappy one. In the archives of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner there is a brief comment in the April 7, 1932 issue which notes: “With Oscar Luckman in his custody, Deputy TJ. S. Marshal Pat O’Connor left for Seward on today’s train. Luckman, who was adjudged insane yesterday, will be taken to Morningside Sanitarium. At Nenana Deputy H.I. Miler was to board the train with James Sizeland, who also has been committed to the sanitarium. At Seward Luckman and Sizeland will be turned over to Marshal Lynn Smith.”

A 1955 Department of the Interior report still listed James Sizeland as a patient at the infamous Morningside Sanitarium in Portland, Oregon. He would have been 79 years old. A further search, of the hospital’s patient records, shows he passed away the following year.

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