A Trip into Alaska's past
A Winter Night's Tour of:
and the S.S. Nenana
At night when it's heavily overcast, the florescent lights from the City of Fairbanks, and neighboring Fort Wainright illuminate the night sky like no other place I know, Reflecting off the clouds is this beautiful bright purplish light, that illuninates everything for miles. I've been to and lived in quite a few places over the years (New York City; Uttica, New York; Alaxandria, Virginia; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Washington DC; Charleston, South Carolina; Augusta Georgia; Tampa, Florida; Houston Texas; Dallas/Fortworth; and Honolulu Hawaii,) and none of these places are illuminated as brightly at night by light reflecting off the cloud cover.
I have often wondered if it has something to do with the city's northerly latitude and is in someway related to what happens up here with the northern lights. What I'm trying to say is that while in other locals night typically comes in shades of grey and blackness, here in Fairbanks our long winter nights come in technocolor with these wonderful hues of purple, pink, and blue.
These photos don't really capture
how bright and colorful it really is, you can none the less see what I'm
trying to describe.
Our night time winter tour of Gold Rush
Village begins with Pioneer Hall. Located between Alaska-Land's Moore Street
gate and The Great Stampeed, Pioneer Hall is home to Alaska-Land's Pioneer Museum
which houses hundreds of artifacts and images of those who helped found this
great State. The second panel is a South-West view in which we see part of
Gold Rush Village's central courtyard, the shopps include a old time photography
studio and several eateries. Across the Street from Pioneer Hall in the third
Panel is Aurora Creations which specializes in Alaskan jewelry and gift items.
Moving up the street about 200 feet I took last photo in this of The Trading
Post Looking more like a horse stable or blacksmith shop this particular building
was built some time before 1906 as the Palace Hotel and Bath House. (And as
if by some strange quirk of fate the building directly across the street from
this edifice is the Palace Theater and Saloon,) In
the background to the left of the building you can see Pioneer Hall.
Rounding the corner and heading up the
south side of Gold Rush Avenue (which incidently is tear drop shaped) tjos next
shot is of the western side of the Trading Post. Almost haunting the stark building
with it's boarded windows looks like a ghost from the past. Just a stones throw
down on the right side of the street behind the Palace saloon is The Bavarian
Cafe, which specializes is German Pastries and food. (Originally this particular
structure belonged to Scagway Jim a member of soapy Smith's gang). The next
building is called the Ranger's Cabin, and that shop specializes in Rocks, Fossils
and Mineral Samples., In the fourth panel we see
Kitty Hensley's house. Kitty Hensley claim to fame was that she was one of early
Fairbanks woman of ill repute. A fact that some in Fairbanks Historical society
would soon forget. As a small aside I might mention that a big part of Fairbanks'
past was it's rowdy bars and notorious woman. To this day located all around
the city are half a dozen streets that bear the names of the beloved hookers
that once lived on them. And if the truth be known Fairbanks only began cleaning
up its checkered reputation about two decades ago -- shortly after the pipeline
boom went bust in the late 1970's.
Nearing the end of the southern
loop of the tear drop in Gold Rush village panel one offers a view of a
cabin behind along with its food cache in back ground. On the right side
of the photo you can also see a pedestrian gate that connects to park to
the eastern portion of park's main parking facility. Built into the
berm that surrounds the park on three sides the second panel is a close-up
of the pedestrian gate and the train tressle above it. On which the park's
narrow guage railroad rides during the summer. The third panel is of a
small gazebo about 75 feet to the right of the gate, And the forth
picture is a close up of the gazebo.
The first panel of this series begins
with a view of Alaska-Land's main gate, The photo includes the train tressle
above it and tourist information booth in the right hand corner. The second
photo is the paddlewheel on the back of the SS Nenana. Highlighted behind
the wheel is Alaska-Land's Civics Center. The third photo is showing
some of Nenana's rigging on her upper deck. And the forth panel shows Nenana's
main stack and wheel house. The S.S. Nenana was the last great Lady of
the Tanana River and served Fairbanks from the 1930's to the 1950's.
The first shot in this series begins
with a close up frontal view of Nenana's wheel house and the steam ships
front booms and riggings. The second shot shows Nenana and Alaska-Land's
civic center. On the corner of Gold Rush Village's second street is a Cape
Code style house containing the park's main office. Called the Georgia
Lee House; interestingly enough this house also belonged to local Prostitute.
Across the street from the office is a gaggle of small building that is
a second view from the opposite side of what I described as a small courtyard
containing several shops and eateries.
The first picture in this series is a close
up of one of the building depicted in the picture above. The second photo is
of the Palace Saloon Alaska-Lands premire eatery and showplace. Behind it you
can see a side view of the trading post. The third picture is a well lit service
road that connects Goldrush village to the rest of the park in the background
of which you can see Alaska-Lands civics center. The final shot of the series
is a eastern view of the Alaska-Land Civic's Center.