Tag Archives: history

Alaska State Parks turn 50

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2020 is the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska State Parks system.  Events will be held at all state parks throughout the year.  The first one starts today down in Homer.

Check out the Alaska State Parks website for an event schedule.


Cold Trusses

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Whole Lotta Shakin’

The Alaska Earthquake Center reported 50,289 earthquakes in the state of Alaska for 2019. That did not break the record that was set in 2018, but it’s enough for the year to come in second place.

In the video above, each frame is a day, in a time-lapse of 2019 earthquakes. Pretty amazing to see it in this form. Kudos to AEC.


Breaking Jack Frost’s grip

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The temperature finally climbed above zero, reaching 9F on Monday.  That breaks a streak of 34 days where the temp never went above 5 degrees.  It’s the fourth longest streak of its nature, since recording began.

The longest such streak is 49 days, which happened in 1942-43.

Although this season’s streak was long, it wasn’t excessively cold.  In 1975, a similar streak had several days reach -60F.  The 2020 streak saw four days where the temperature dropped to -40.

Regardless, I was thrilled to be outside on Monday in single digit temps.


Yukon Quest 2020

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A musher and dog team take the Chena River out of Fairbanks

 

The Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race started on Saturday morning.  Fifteen teams left Fairbanks, with the goal of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in 9 days, give or take.

It was a rather chilly morning to be hanging out on the Chena River to cheer the teams on their way, but several hundred people turned out to do just that.  It was -25F when I left the cabin, and it must have been -30 down on the river ice.  Everyone, including the dogs, were bundled up.

The 1000 mile race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse first started in 1984.  A 1983 bull-session in the Bull’s Eye Saloon in Fairbanks, led to the race’s creation.  Twenty-six teams left Fairbanks that first year. The winner, Sonny Linder, made it to Whitehorse in just over 12 days.

The Quest follows the historic gold rush routes between the Yukon and Alaska’s Interior, traveling frozen rivers and crossing four mountain ranges.  Dawson City, YT is the half-way point.  In even years, the race starts in Fairbanks, and in odd years the race starts in Whitehorse.

There are ten checkpoints and four dog drops, where dogs can be dropped off, but not replaced.  Sleds can not be replaced without a penalty.  The record run happened in 2010, when Hans Gatt finished in 9 days, 26 minutes.  The slowest time happened in 1988, when Ty Halvorson completed the race in 20 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes.

 

 

 


Happy Marmot Day!

The rascally marmot
In 2009, then Governor Sarah Palin signed a bill declaring February 2 as “Marmot Day” in Alaska.
The sponsors of the bill in the State Legislature, made the incorrect assumption that Alaska did not have groundhogs.
The folks in Juneau always forget about the Interior.
Groundhogs, or woodchucks, are found throughout the Tanana River Valley, including the Fairbanks area. In fact, groundhogs certainly predate European Americans in Alaska.
Remember the old saying: “If a hoary marmot sees it’s shadow on February 2nd, all hell has broke loose, because the little rodent should still be hibernating!”
Happy Marmot Day!


Centennial Hall

Film Friday:

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Camera: Rolleiflex 3.5MX; Film: Kodak 120, Ektar 100


Rest in Peace Little Bird

Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath passed away this week.  Heath performed on over 100 albums, and wrote over 125 compositions.

Heath’s saxophone play, and slim build, earned him the nickname “Little Bird” by the late 1940’s.

Jimmy Heath was 93.


The mukluks hit the snow

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Toksook Bay, Alaska; Photo credit: U.S. Census

The U.S. Census starts its official count today, January 21, in Toksook Bay, Alaska.  Since 1960, the first census year after Alaska became a state, the census has started in Alaska.

With 80% of Alaska communities not on the road system, and with many villages without extensive internet service, the census starts early in Alaska.  Getting around remote Alaska is much easier when the ground is frozen.  Also, it is much more difficult to count people,  after many residents of Bush Alaska head out to their fish camps.

Thus the mid-winter start to the counting in Alaska.

I have a friend who was assigned to Toksook Bay as she works for the Census Bureau this season.  I hope she has a wonderful experience.  The first person interviewed by the Census is always a village elder.  That first village varies, with the Alaska Federation of Natives deciding which village will be initially enumerated.

Toksook Bay is a coastal village on the Bering Sea.

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This will be the 24th Census taken in the United States, with the first taking place in 1790.  The majority of the country will see census forms start to show up in March.


ALSIB Air Route

Fim Friday:

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Alaska – Siberia Monument

Camera: Rolleiflex 3.5MX; Film: Kodak 120, T-Max 100