Experience Fairbanks at its Best
The first stop more of a pause roughly 50 yards downstream is The Binkley's Boatworks beyound the ship's captain mentioning that Discovery II snf Discovery III were built there I'm not sure that too much is said about this structure. Though I andmit I am somewhat intrigued by the claim it was established in 1898, considering that Fairbanks wasn't Established until 1901.
One of the thinks sadly that isn't offered in the tour is the Binkley's Boatworks depicted below. It was inside this structure that the Riverboats Discovery II and Discovery III were built. At the time that I dropped I found that they were building a relpica steam engine for a second train to be installed at the Eldorado Gold Mine another operation purchased in recent years by the y Binkleys. "Converting short an short rectangulat electric mining engine into an authentic looking steam engine is no easy task." One of the workers told me. Everything from the engine's custom boiler cylinder down to the sweeping cowcatcher on front was having to be completely made from scratch based on photo's and plans based on the Tanana Valley Railroad's first steam engine now fully restored and in service at Alaska-Land.
Though not noramlly visited, I found the staff inside the boatworks quite friendly. During our talk I was shown the plans and photo's that they were working on, as well as being most graciously allowed to take a few photo's of their work on progress.
The tour begins with the Riverboat Discovery backing out of port and doing an this absolutely amazing 180 degree turn, which I was able to capture on film for the benefit of my website viewers. From what I had seen of riverboats along the Mississippi River I was under the impression that riverboats in general were these ackward and lumbering watercraft so you can well imagine my surprise when this 156 foot long riverboat deftly pulls out and does this percission 180 turn that not even one of Fairbanks'18' alumium weld boats with an inboard motor could do.
Moments later when Discovery III is a mere 150 yards underweigh the first schedualed event takes place with a bush pilot taking off from a dirt strip along the south side of the river. After take off the pilot then circles once, and then after landing poses by his plane for tour members to photograph.
The two photos below are rare in that they were taken on a day when Discovery's regular pilot Bill Johnson was out of town on business, so his next door neighbor ------- was called to fill in for him.
While I was out taking these photgraphs I was mildly amused when suddenly realized that I had become part of the show. From the ship's loadspeaker system I heard the Captain talking about this photographer on shore. He then tooted the ship's steam whistle once and waved at me as he passed. And funnier still a bunch of people on board actually began taking pictures of me.
Moving gently downsteam Discovery III then passes the Binkley's property where Discovery I the Binkley's first riverboat used during the early 1950's remains these days tied to the dock. (Depicted on the lower right).
The next site after that is the historic Pump House Resturant. (Which is kind of behind Discovery in the picture on the upper left) Built on the site where the F.E. Company first set up a pump house to supply water to the gold fields just north of town.
These two close-ups of Discovery 1 were taken from north shore where she's currently docked. While the ship is really quite small, there was unfortunately no vantage point from which I could get a full shot.
Click on Discovery to continue your Virtual Tour