Curry Hotel

by Stephen F. Sheldon

I don't think the Curry Hotel ever did close its doors.  My father worked for the Alaska Railroad in 1956 and 1957, and we made several weekend trips to Curry in 1956.

I was nine years old.  The family who had the concession to run the hotel had children the same age as my family's, and my sister and I always had a good time in Curry.  The hotel, had about 50 rooms; I don't know how many where actually in use, or usable.  There was a restaurant, and of course, a bar. There was a lot of serious drinking done in Curry.

Behind the hotel there was a suspension bridge across the Susitna River, but it was not safe, and we children were warned to stay away from it.  Across the tracks from the hotel, up the hill, were the ruins of a ski tow and a cabin filled with bandages and other 20 year old medical supplies.  We played doctor there.  There also was an engine shed, a 2-8-0 locomotive, and a snow plow stationed here.  There were maybe 10 houses along the tracks south of the hotel, as well as a section house.

Besides the Sheldon's, I don't think there were very many other paying guests at the hotel.  On one trip we were shown a room where someone had discharged a gun while lying in bed.  The bullet had ricocheted all over.

The big attraction for the children in Curry was the nightly movie, shown in the lobby of the hotel.  The Alaska Communications System was run by the Army Signal Corps, and there were a couple of soldiers at each station on the Alaska Railroad to man the telegraph offices.  The Army put films on the train for them, and after viewing them, they put the film back on the train for the next stop.  I also remember going to the movie in Healy, when we stayed there one weekend.

After the hotel burned down, my family went to Curry at least one more time and stayed in the section house, which the concession holders ran.  Later they ran a roadhouse in King Salmon.

One guest in the hotel I remember my mother called The Parakeet.  Her hair was dyed in several colors.  Previously she worked in Club Birdland on the Fairbanks strip.  She let me watch her play pinball in the lobby.


© 2000 Stephen F. Sheldon