History of Delta Junction

 

The discovery of "gold" in Alaska, as well as the Yukon Territory in the early 1900's, brought an influx of people to this area. The increase of people, meant more travelers along the old Valdez Trail (now called the Richardson Highway) Roadhouses sprang up along the trail to provide respite for the traveler. Two of these roadhouses can be found in Delta. The Sullivan Roadhouse is now a walk-through museum that was moved from its original location across the Delta River. It is now located next to the Delta Visitors Center. Rika's is a restored roadhouse at Big Delta State Historical Park. It is located at the confluence of the Delta and Tanana Rivers where travelers once had to be ferried across the swift moving water.

Bison are believed to be one of the most common large land animals in the State. Scientists believe that the last indigenous bison herd in the area died out about 500 years ago. In 1928 a herd of 23 bison was transplanted from the National Bison Range in Montana to the then relatively uninhabited Delta Junction area. Conditions were so favorable for the bison that the herd grew to about 500 animals.  Hunting, by special permit, has kept the recent number at about 450 to 500 animals.  This could be why Delta Junction has been referred to as Buffalo Center.

 

The Alaska Highway was built during World War II as a military road to bring supplies to the interior and to nearby airfields. The entire Alaska Highway was built in a quick eight months in 1942, and the road ended in what is now Delta Junction. Here the Alaska Highway met with the Richardson Highway and the traveler could go north to Fairbanks or south to Valdez. With the building of the Alaska Highway, the business center of town moved to the junction of the two highways. Development continued as people started homesteading in the area. Allen Army Airfield, which was one of a series of airfields constructed during World War II, became Fort Greely (an Army post) that does Cold Regions Testing.
 
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a groundbreaking ceremony June 15, 2002 at Fort Greely, Alaska to start construction for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program.  The project’s stated purpose is that GMD is necessary for defending our country and our overseas Armed Forces against limited ballistic missile attacks conducted by terrorists.