Nenana has a population of 553 and is located at the confluence of the Nenana and Tanana Rivers. Nenana is about halfway between Fairbanks and Denali.

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Nenana’s claim to fame is the Nenana Ice Classic, a yearly contest with cash prizes to the person who guesses the exact time the ice will break on the Tanana River. Ice Classic tickets are sold throughout Alaska from February 1st through April 5. The Ice Classic Festivities begin the last week in February with the tripod raising ceremony. When the surging of the ice on the Tanana River dislodges the tripod, a line attached to the tripod trips a clock in the tower above the Ice Classic office, thus recording the official time.  HOW IS THAT FOR EXCITEMENT???IMG 3023

The tripod you see on the left is placed on the river after the river is frozen solid.  More water is pored on the base the tripod and it is anchored in place.

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Ever single person who buys a ticket and guesses a date and a time is listed in this book.  They have a book for every year.IMG 3028

Nenana’s Railroad Bridge

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This bridge was built in the states and shipped to Alaska in pieces, the construction of the railroad bridge across the Tanana River at Nenana was a major engineering feat.  In the winter of 1922-1923, the bridge was reassembled on a temporary framework in the river ice.

The bridge, one of the longest single spans in the United States, was designed to accommodate the extremes of the North. With changes in temperatures, the bridge expands and contracts on rollers. No supports stand in the water to be damaged by the huge chunks of ice that sweep by each spring.

With this final span, the coast of Alaska and its interior towns and waterways were connected.

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President Warren G Harding was the first American President to visit Alaska.  He came here in 1923 to pound the Golden Spike signaling completion of the Alaska Railroad from Tidewater to the Interior. 

Mary’s folly

After Tom and I walked through town and down to the river, we came back to the camper.  I decided I wanted to walk back down and take a picture of the railroad bridge.  Once I took the picture, I decided to take a picture of the confluence of the two rivers (which wasn’t so easy).  I walked along the Tanana River, but could’t find a sport to take the picture.  I decided to hike up an embankment underneath the bridge so I could walk halfway across the bridge to take the picture—definitely easier said than done!!!  I got about ¾ the way up and absolutely couldn’t get up any further because there were no trees for the last ten feet and I didn’t have anything to hold onto to keep from sliding back down.  So…I slid down (mostly on my butt), walked the road that ran underneath the bridge until it intersected with the highway.  There I walked along Highway 3 and halfway across the highway bridge and took the first picture in today’s blog.IMG 4063

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1st Iditarod Checkpoint in 2003, 2015 and 2017 was Nenana, Alaska

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Trip Statistics 

  • We are staying at the Nenana RV Park - $33.75.  So far we’ve spent $1,303.85 on lodging for an average cost of $30.38 per night 
  • We filled up both the car and motorhome for $3.39 per gallon today.  Total cost for gas so far has been $2,191.23!
  • We drove 61 miles in the motorhome and 21 miles in the car.  Total miles driven so far is 6,365.