Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dexter's Roadhouse Golovin, Alaska

Dexters Roadhouse Golovin, Alaska
acrylic painting
16 x 20 wrapped canvas

When destitute miners on the beach at Nome realized that the ruby colored sand at their feet was laced with gold, they must have thought that they had died and gone to heaven. Alaska gold in Nome was literally discovered on the beach. Poet Sam Dunham wrote in 1900, "For many miles along the beach, double ranks of men were rocking, almost shoulder to shoulder, while their partners stripped the pay streak and supplied the rockers with water and pay dirt”. If they would let you a person could still earn a days wages digging gold on the beach. I know I saw the gold flashing on the beach in the bright Northern sun.

Golovin, Alaska is about 60 miles South of Nome and Dexter”s Roadhouse was built in that time to accommodate the miners and villagers. Dexters according to locals operated until 1954 as a dance hall, general store, post office, hotel and saloon. Oxy a resident of Golovin and Jack Brown told me they remember their moms working there for twenty-five cents a week. Oxy told me when her mother saved up one dollar she would buy herself four yards of fabric and make herself a dress. They told me when it was closed and boarded up, the contents remained inside: furniture, store supplies, clothes, beds, dishes, stoves, shoes, everything. It was only opened once to let people have a look inside and then boarded up once again just like a coffin, protecting a rich and colorful history of the gold rush in Nome. A building this old is a rarity in AK.  The early pioneers did not even come to settle Alaska until the 1940s or so.  Most of the early structures are gone altogether, Dexter’s Roadhouse is a true relic of Alaskan history, it sits in a small village of only 150 Chinik Eskimo’s in such a remote place that almost no one will ever see it. It’s not clear to me if it is on the Historical Register (it should be).

I painted this in my free time while visiting Golovin.


Views from Malmesbury said...

Love the painting and the history as you gave it makes it more alive

Anonymous said...

Is that painting for sale? If so contact me at

Anonymous said...

The beginning of this trading post was first built by John Abbott Dexter as the first post office in Golovin in the 1890's. Through the years he enlarged it. John's 3 younger brothers arrived from San Fransico in 1900. One of the brothers was Joseph Dexter (my grandfater). My grandmother, Nora, was Eskimo. Her sister, Mollie, married John Abbot. My mother, Flora and her sister Mollie and brother John were born in that Roadhouse along with my older brother Art Peterson. I spent many hours in that roadhouse. If you would like more information you can contact me at If possible, I would very much like to purchase a copy for your picture; it's beautiful and brings back many fond memories. Thank you, LeNora (Muffet) Notti.

Anonymous said...

i would REALLY like a copy of this picture. if there are any available pls contact me at many thanks.

Jessica R. Wobig said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting, I am working on the history of Golovin and was very happy to see this!