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Historic roadhouse 'The Forks' burns to the ground

Alaska Dispatch

Sad news. The Forks Roadhouse at Mile 18.7 on Petersville Road has completely burned down.

“Apparently, it’s just a smoldering hole in the ground,” Rebecca Charles, who operates the landmark lodge's Facebook page, told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.

Details about the cause of the blaze are unknown, but Charles said that everything was fine on Wednesday afternoon, when a caretaker went to start the generator that powers the freezers.

On Thursday morning, the caretaker returned and found the disaster, Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters told the Anchorage Daily News. There were no injuries to people or dogs, and the other buildings on the property were unharmed.

The Forks, as locals called it, was built in 1920 as a gold rush supply depot and stop-over for miners, according to Mat-Su Borough Cultural Resource Specialist Fran Seager-Boss. The building that burned down Wednesday was built between 1930 and 1933, according to a Talkeetna historian. 

The Forks was one of the oldest continually operating roadhouses in Alaska, and it was registered as historic in the Alaska Heritage Resources Survey.

Even though it was a piece of old Alaska, it wasn't mouldering away. It was still a living place, full of activity from snowmachiners and other recreationalists in the area. Lulu Small, a well-known local musician, was in fact scheduled to play a show there this weekend.

Borough Assemblyman Vern Halter, who represents the area, tried to convey how big a loss the fire has caused. “It’s one of the saddest events in Petersville history,” said Halter, who has been there “a million times. It’s a landmark lodge that will be greatly missed.”

Read much more from the Frontiersman, here, and from the Daily News, here.