A Trip into Alaska's past

A Winter Night's Tour of:

Gold Rush Village
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.

Pioneer Museum One of Many Historic Cabins
Trading Post

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.

Side View of trading post Bavarian Cafe
Another Historic Cabin Kitty Hensley

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.

Parks South East Entrance Close up of South East Entrance
Gazebo Gazebo close up

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.

Main entrance Nenana's Paddlewheel
Nenena 's Bridgework Nenea's Cabins and Wheelhouse

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.

Wheelhouse and Riggings Wheelhouse and Riggings
Park's Office Another Group of Historic Cabins

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.

Close up of Cabins Palace Theater
Paek Causeway Civic's Center

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.