Tag Archives: Fairbanks


Fairbanks saw its first substantial snowfall of the season this week. Between 6-8 inches fell over two days, across the borough. We easily set a record for the latest date to have at least an inch of snow on the ground.

The temp this morning was a brisk -4F at the cabin.

Flurries! We had flurries!

I spent much of Friday afternoon up on The Ridge. I closed a few things down for the winter, then went walking the trails. As one can see, we still have just a dusting on the ground here in Interior Alaska. Today, snow was finally in the air. I was covered with the white stuff, when I made it back to the truck, but very little accumulated on the ground.

We have set a record for the latest date for having at least an inch of snow on the ground. Rumor has it that the streak will end this weekend, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, I wasn’t complaining that I could do today’s hike without snowshoes.

Aurora Watch

The Aurora has been phenomenal the past few days, with Sunday night producing an incredible light show over Interior Alaska. The bands of green, flowing light completely dominated the night sky for hours, making it difficult to even see the stars.

The S.S. Portland

S.S. Portland

On 17 July 1897, word spread like wildfire through the streets of Seattle over the cargo in the hold of the S.S. Portland. The S.S. Excelsior had already docked in San Francisco, bringing news from the Yukon.

“A ton of gold!” The arrival of the S.S. Portland was about to cause a mad rush to the Klondike.

68 miners and over a ton of gold had boarded the Portland in St Michael, Alaska. Fresh from the Klondike in Canada’s Yukon Territory, the gold was packed in anything the miners could find: coffee cans, socks, sacks, and boxes. Anything that could get the gold dust to Seattle. The estimates were off: The Portland carried two tons of gold in her hold that day.

At the time, the country was in a recession. Over 5000 people were waiting for the Portland at the dock, when she arrived. The streets were so crowded, the streetcars had to stop running. Reporters, longshoremen and others immediately quit their jobs and booked passage to Alaska. The mayor of Seattle was in San Francisco at the time; he wired his resignation via telegraph, and hopped on the first steamer heading north towards the Klondike. Seattle merchants sold out of mining gear and equipment within hours of the Portland’s arrival.


Plaque dedicated to the S.S. Portland, Photo credit: CtoC

Today, there is a historical marker near the place where the S.S. Portland docked. The plaque is located between Piers 57 and 59, along the sidewalk that runs beside the road, Alaskan Way. The plaque is mounted on an anchor, and looks down on the boardwalk that runs along the water.


The S.S. Portland served between 1885 and 1910. The above picture shows the Portland in the Bering Sea in 1901. Seamen are out cutting the ice in front of the ship.

The wreck of the Portland near the Katalla River, Alaska 1910

The Portland spent much of its life going from the west coast of the United States to the Alaska Territory. In 1910, the ship was caught on a shoal in rough seas. The waves pounded the old vessel, smashing her to pieces. The S.S. Portland remains at the mouth of the Katalla River. The ship was the subject of an episode of the PBS show History Detectives in 2004: Series 2, episode 9.

Historic photos come courtesy of the Alaska State Library Archives

Halloween Dusting


I am back in The ‘Banks in time for All Hallows Eve. The cabin wood bin is full, the weasel still resides in the wood shed outside, and we received just a dusting of snow on Sunday. That does make life better for the rabbits, as they had already turned white and really stood out on the brown earth.

The 2-4″ in the forecast, tuned out to be .4″ in reality. We will avoid a brown Halloween only on a technicality. We have had just one brown Halloween since record keeping began in Fairbanks. The year was 1938, when a Chinook wind blew in, and melted what snow there was on the ground in the latter half of October.

We are still on pace in 2018 to rewrite some records, however. 1938 set the record for the latest date Fairbanks had an inch of snow on the ground. November 6, to be exact. As of this writing, we have no precipitation in the forecast for the next 10 days.

The Pond has just enough ice to support the dusting of snow

She stood in the doorway with lust in her eyes

For Parker

A Flashback Friday Edition:

   I was almost finished with the morning chores.  All of the animals had been watered and fed.  I went back to the chicken coop to retrieve the morning eggs.  I was at the far end of the coop, with several eggs in hand, when there was a loud “BANG” and the door swung open.
    There in the doorway stood my four month old Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  Her eyes gleamed with lust; she had just won the Canine Lottery.  I yelled for her to stay, which she did for a brief moment in time.  In the end, the clucking of the oddly colored, and slow moving grouse-like creatures was too much for her.
    Everyone remained completely still for that split nanosecond, then hell broke loose in the form of a brown, curly-haired blur of fur.  Birds were everywhere.  I dropped the eggs and tried to make my way past the wall of feathers.  It seemed that the birds realized that I was suddenly the lesser of the two evils in the room, and they rushed towards me.  I felt like I was in a twisted Hitchcock film.  My dog raced about in utter joy, flushing birds to the left, and to the right … just like I had taught her.  It was feathery pandemonium, and it was ugly.
    A hen made it to the door and to freedom.  It was the prize layer of the flock; the Mother of many breakfasts.  The dog followed her out, and was on her tail
feathers immediately.
    I rushed out and saw my dog do me a huge favor, which at this point, I thought she certainly owed me.  She chased the runaway chicken into her fenced area, and the bird promptly ran into the doghouse.  Then my dog sat down and looked up at me with a look that asked, “Did I do good, Dad?”.  I have never been so angry, and so proud of something all at the same time, as I was of her.  I made a mental note, that having chickens on The Ridge may not be a good idea.
    I reached into the doghouse and brought out the traumatized hen and returned her to the coop.  After locking up the dog, I returned to get the eggs.  The female turkey came over and laid down.  I stroked her back and apologized for the rude intrusion.  She seemed to understand, maybe I will get an egg from her tomorrow.  The chickens, on the other hand, gave me looks of pure evil.  They wanted me to pay; you could see it in their eyes.  Those hate filled eyes.
    Collecting eggs will never be the same.  For any of us.

Autumn in the Interior

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.”
—Oscar Wilde