Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pioneer Park ~ Morris Thompson Cultural Center ~ Fairbanks, Alaska

Our visit to Fairbanks, Alaska

We had been in Fairbanks, Alaska when on our way to the Dalton Highway adventure then returned there before going onto the rest of our Alaska travels.  Fairbanks, known as the Golden Heart City, is the largest city in the interior of Alaska. It has a population of over 32,000 people and the hub for many more.  The original trading post was founded in 1901 by E.T. Barnette.

Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska
Pioneer Park, originally called Alaskaland is a 44 acre city park, which was part of the Alaska 1967 Centennial Expo to celebrate the centennial of the Alaska purchase.  They commemorate the early Alaska history in a great way.  We spent an evening there, which turned out to be a very quiet time with few other visitors.

Gold Rush town in Pioneer Park
The Gold Rush Town of Pioneer Park has 35 restored buildings which offer a great variety of artisans from Alaska.  We saw some incredible carvings and photography and plenty of other art offered for anyone looking to purchase a great piece of local art created by talented locals.

SS Nenana at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, AK
The SS Nenana is a dry docked sternwheeler used as a museum at Pioneer Park.  It is 70 metres (230’) long making it the second longest hulled ship still in existence.  It was used on the Tanana and Chena River from 1933 to 1954 to serve those in remote areas then later purchased to be restored to what it has become today.

Artists of Pioneer Park
I didn’t make note of the dog’s name but Ralph comes to mind.  He was happily soaking up all the attention offered as he waited patiently outside this shop.  His owner, the artist Justin Karella was at the shop at the time and visited with those who dropped by.  This work was amazing.  I found a Facebook page that shows some of his beautiful work, click here to see that.

Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitor Center
We visited the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Centre in downtown Fairbanks, also.  It was a museum which is sharing so much of the history of the area, well worth spending some time there. Alaska Native art, music, crafts and stories are all there for you to enjoy and very interesting.

Display in the Morris Thompson Cultural Center
The authenticity of these displays made it even more interesting and to help the reality, they are not behind a glass wall.  I’m sure this beaver, no name given, was enjoying watching all the visitors as they passed by!  I like to think he is still alive, in spirit, at least!  To see more, click here.  

Antler Arch in Fairbanks, AK
The Interior Alaska Antler Arch was an interesting display of more than 100 caribou and moose antlers from all around Alaska.  Sandy Jamieson, the Fairbanks artist who crafted the Antler Arch was quoted as saying about the antlers, “…each given to the arch in the spirit of linking experiences from all around Alaska.  The gift of the arch is to let us imagine the personal stories and respect the intertwined loves represented here.”

Relaxing at the RV park
Our stops in Fairbanks gave us a chance to do some shopping, laundry and replace supplies for repairs we may have to do down the road.  This stop also gave us a chance to relax after the big Dalton adventure and have a happy hour visit.

Chena River in North Pole, AK
The Riverview RV park was just out of Fairbanks in North Pole and offered the amenities we were looking for and there was also a great pub dinner just a short jaunt down the road.  Now we are all set to move onto some paved roads and new sights.

Click here to see some beautiful scenery in the Alaska Range.


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