Delta Junction is located at the convergence of the Richardson and Alaska Highways,
approximately 95 miles southeast of Fairbanks. The City developed along the east bank of the
Delta River, south of its junction with the Tanana River. It offers spectacular views of the
Alaska Range. It lies at approximately 64.037780° North Latitude and -145.73222° West Longitude.
(Sec. 23, T010S, R010E, Fairbanks Meridian.) Delta Junction is located in the Fairbanks
Recording District. The area encompasses 17.3 sq. miles of land and 0.0 sq. miles of water.
This area of Interior Alaska experiences seasonal extremes. The average low temperature in
January is -11 degrees Fahrenheit. The average high during July is 69 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature extremes ranging from a low of -63 to a high of 92 degrees Fahrenheit have been
recorded. Average annual liquid equivalent precipitation is 12 inches, which includes an
average annual snowfall of 37 inches.
Tanana Athabascan Indians occupied this site throughout most of the 19th and
early 20th centuries.
In 1899 the Army sent parties to investigate the Susitna, Matanuska, and
Copper River valleys to find the best route for a trail north from Valdez, through the Copper
River valley. By 1901, the Army had completed the Trans-Alaska Military Road, which extended
from Valdez to Eagle City.
In 1902, gold was discovered in the Tanana Valley and, shortly after, a spur
trail was created from Gulkana on the Valdez-Eagle route to the new mining camp in Fairbanks.
This trail became the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail. The Sullivan Roadhouse was built in 1905 by John
and Florence Sullivan on a part of the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail known as the Donnelly-Washburn
Cut-Off. This section of the trail was considered by many to be too steep, and the Alaska Road
Commission built a new road which was removed from the Sullivan Roadhouse by a distance of four
miles. The Sullivans tore the roadhouse apart and rebuilt it alongside the new road. Ongoing
mining activity just north of Delta Junction in the Tenderfoot area, and the Chisana Gold
Strike of 1913, brought many prospectors and other travelers through the area.
The Delta Junction area became known as Buffalo Center for the American bison
that were transplanted here from the National Bison Range in Montana in the 1920s. In 1942,
construction of the Alaska Highway began, and Fort Greely military base was completed 5 miles
to the south.
In 1946, a dairy farm was established; beef cattle were brought in during 1953
by homesteaders. Delta Junction was incorporated as a second-class city in 1960. Construction
of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline between 1974 and 1977 brought a dramatic upswing to the population
In August 1978, the state initiated Delta Agricultural Project I, a
60,000-acre demonstration agricultural project. Twenty-two parcels, averaging 2,700 acres in
size were sold by lottery. Delta Agricultural Project II, an additional land release of 15
parcels totaling 25,000 acres, took place in early 1982. Success of the Delta Agricultural
Projects has been highly variable. In 1980, the 70,000-acre Delta Bison Range was created to
confine the bison and keep them out of the barley fields. About 6,000-11,000 people apply each
year for an average of 40 permits to hunt Delta bison. Delta bison have been used to start
three other herds in Alaska.
In 2004, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Missile
Defense Testbed at Fort Greely. It is anticipated that new jobs will be created with the
development of the Pogo mine, expected to be operational by mid-2006.
Alaska Community Histories Index
Alaska DCCED Community Database Online
History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development