Nenana Things to Do

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  • Things to Do
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  • Things to Do
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Best Rated Things to Do in Nenana

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    Taku Chief

    by herzog63 Updated Nov 24, 2003

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    The Taku Chief is a tugboat that pushed barges on the Nenana,Tanana,Yukon and Koyukuk Rivers for about 30 years. Now it is retired and is located right near the turnoff from the Parks Highway. You can't miss it as it's located right behind the Visitor Center. It's a great example of the local wooden boats that run these rivers ! Now it's just a cool photo opportunity!

    Taku Chief
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    Walk along Front Street

    by herzog63 Written Nov 24, 2003

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    If you take a walk along Front Street you will find several attractions including The Alaska Railroad Depot Museum, Ice Classic Tower and Clock, St Marks Church, Nenana Cultural Center, Fish Wheels and some beautiful views of the Tanana River.

    The corner of
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    Museum Displays (outside)

    by herzog63 Written Nov 24, 2003

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    There are some interesting displays outside the Museum just in case it's closed when you get there...like it was for me. There are a couple of plaques commemorating historical events, an old railroad mini-car and you get to see how the Depot looks to arriving passengers.

    Nenana Depot
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    Mears Bridge and the Golden Spike

    by herzog63 Updated Nov 24, 2003

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    In the photo you can see the Mears Bridge which was named after Frederick Mears, Head of the Alaska Engineering Commission at the time of the completion of the Alaska Railroad. The Golden Spike was the last spike driven to signify the completion of the Alaska Railroad which at the time ended in Nenana. The golden spike was driven by President Harding at Nenana on completion of the railroad on July 15,1923.. The golden spike was removed after the ceremony and replaced with a regular iron spike....in case you're thinking of digging it up in the middle of the night!! haha The original golden spike was on display at the Harding Home Museum in Marion, Ohio then went to the Smithsonian Museum and over the years has come up missing!! I bet they can find it on EBAY!! haha
    The spot of the golden spike is located to the left of the bridge in the photo.
    The bridge is a Railway bridge only!!

    Mears Bridge on the Tanana River
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    Nenana Ice Classic

    by herzog63 Updated Nov 24, 2003

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    Every year some lucky person or group of people make the correct guess on the exact time of the Tanana river ice breakup in the spring....I've bought tickets for it in the past but have never even gotten within 24 hours of the time. If there isn't an exact guess they person that is the closest wins. The pot is usually over $300,000 for the winning guess. I'm not sure if there has been a single winner in recent history. The trick that alot of people like to do is to share the winnings. For example a group of 10 will all pick different times and each buy a ticket with the understanding that if one of those times is correct they will share the wealth.
    I think it goes something like this.....Sometime in February a huge tripod is hauled out on to the ice and is attached to a long cable all the way back to shore to a building that houses a clock. When the tripod has shifted enough to pull the cable tight it shuts the clock off and that becomes the official time!! The tickets are sold all over Alaska but I don't think they take mail order or online payment for the tickets.
    This is the Official Breakup Headquarters and you can see the Tripod that is used. The winning time is displayed in the window until the following breakup.
    I think tickets cost $3-$5 each...gosh I can't remember....I'll fix this tip in February when I buy my ticket. If you don't hear from me for a while it's because I finally guessed the correct time!!
    This has been an annual tradition since 1917!!

    Ice Classic Headquarters
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    The Break up clock

    by herzog63 Written Nov 24, 2003

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    Here you can see the actual clock used in deciding the winner of the annual Ice Classic. Looks very high tech huh? It has been used to decide where a few million dollars ends up so it is a very powerful clock!! The clock is in the window of the small building. You may have to enlarge the photo to see it properly.

    Ice Classic Clock Tower
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    Nenana Visitors center

    by herzog63 Written Nov 24, 2003

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    You can get all the information you want for the Nenana area right here at the Nenana Valley Visitor Center. The building itself is quite cool. The roof is made from sod so they must have to mow it several times over the summer. I'm not sure of the hours but it was closed when we visited. I guess you can call us the off-Season traveler!! haha You can't miss it as it's the first thing you will see after you turn off the Parks Highway.
    There are so many cool activities that can be done at different times of the year from Gold Panning to Dogsledding!!

    Visitor Center
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    Where the names came from

    by herzog63 Written Nov 24, 2003

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    The hill that is behind the town and across the river is called Toghotthele Hill. So when the first white men came to the area they couldn't pronounce it and it came out Tortella and that became the first name of it and the village. Then another guy came along and renamed if after an Athabascan Indian word which means "A good place to camp between rivers" Nenana and that is the official name still today.
    In Nenana you can find many kinds of people....from Local Natives to trappers, gold panners, home steaders, and the guys that work the river boats. I'd say the people that live here are either born in the area or don't want to be near the big city of Anchorage!! They are living the Alaska Experience!

    Nenana
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    The visitor office

    by shavy Updated Jun 29, 2015

    Visitor Information Center is located just across the highway from the Chevron gas station. The visitors center booth is a cute little log cabin with a sod roof. The office was closed when we get there. We have talk to a guy at the museum and asked when the visitor center open. He said, the office has a rare opening hour. People work here are volunteers. But anyway, you can walk around without map. Seen some photo of the visitor center, is very lovely in the summer. Outside were full with flowers

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    Taku Chief Tug Boat

    by shavy Written Jun 29, 2015

    Next to visitor center you will see the tugboat. The last commercial wooden tug boat used to move barges loaded with supplies destined for villages in the Interior as they navigated the Nenana, Tanana, Koyukuk and Yukon Rivers. The tugboat has done a good service from 1938 to 1978

    And now is one of sights. Weird, because this standing in front of Nenana. At first we have no idea why this tug is being decorated here. After reading of information about this tugboat and how he's service done in the river. Now, we understand why he is here. It also added colors in town

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    The watch tower and the tripod for ice classic

    by shavy Written Jun 29, 2015

    At the back of the visitor center you will find the tripod. Nenana held annual game in the winter called Nenana Ice Classic. This is only one in Alaska and this brings a lot of visitors in town to those who wants to gamble. There is a lot of money here.

    A statewide game of chance for $2.50 a pop to guess the day, hour, and minute the ice will go out on the Tanana river. The winner(s) collect or share about $363,627 last year, it was posted in the center.

    The watch tower has the clock that is connected by a rope to the tripod sitting on the frozen river. A black-and-white-striped tripod is placed 300 yards from shore near the Mears Memorial Bridge when the river freezes. The tripod is attached by rope to a clock in a watchtower on shore, and when the ice melts (usually late April to early May) and the tripod falls into the river, the clock stops and the winner of the Nenana Ice Classic is determined.

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    Railroad Museum and giftshop

    by shavy Written Jun 29, 2015

    We visited Nenana on Memorial Day even though this was not in our list, but we're glad we stopby. We're expecting everything will be closed. But it was open that day.

    After strolling down to the river, on the way back with car we stopped at the railroad museum. Inside is also giftshop, so, I keep myself busy looking for some gifts, everything was on sale, memorial day sale, all was half on the price

    My partner went inside the museum and took some photos. Free admission. After I've finished from the shop I went inside and have a look. The museum is not really worth it. But the museum building is well worth for a photo

    It use to be a Railroad Depot in Nenana but is now a museum. It is home to a great collection of railroad memorabilia and artifacts. Built in 1922 is one of only three original railroad depots left in Alaska

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    Nenana Railroad Bridge

    by shavy Updated Jun 29, 2015

    To get to the railroad bridge, drive through down cultural center, there is a parking outside, leave your car and walk a bit further if you want to have a view of the bridge.

    The Nenana Railway Station is located adjacent to the barge docks on the waterfront, it also houses a museum. The railroad connected Nenana to the southern port city of Anchorage

    If standing near the river you will have a good look from both bridge. Left is: Mears Memorial Bridge and Right: Railroad Bridge.

    If you got time take a walk over the bridge, surely would be nice experience. We didn't get the chance to do it, ran of time. Underside view of the railroad bridge is also interesting

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    Mears Memorial Bridge

    by shavy Written Jun 29, 2015

    Mears Memorial Bridge completed in 1923 the 700-foot-long (210 m), crossing the Tanana River at Nenana. Tanana River as part of the state's railroad project connecting Anchorage and Fairbanks.

    This also the reason why we stopped here. While we're driving on the bridge to cross over it, I could see the town from the distance. It looks pretty from afar

    Either you came from Anchorage or Fairbanks you'll cross Tanana river, and pass Nenana too. So, why not stopping anyway. We're glad we've seen this town. We drove from Fairbanks on this trip, on our way to Denali

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    Strolling around

    by shavy Written Jun 30, 2015

    Nenana, is very small town, easy to walk around and to navigate without getting lost ;). (joke) walking is very interesting and best way to explore. A very quiet little town, it reminds me to McCarthy/Kennicott.

    When we enter in town we drove straight to visitors parking lot near cultural center. We parked the car and walk around. It didn't take long to see the town.

    The main street is where all the business are located. Restaurants/bars and inns are in this street also the small store. The railroad is at the back at the railroad museum which was a railroad depot before. It sure is, worth a visit!

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Nenana Things to Do

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