Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Raven's Brew tops Starbucks in Fairbanks

or maybe it should be "Raven’s Crew tops Starbucks."

Item – Ravens in Fairbanks, after a busy day of dumpster diving and food recycling, used to fly home to their roosts, which were usually located in large trees up in the hills. It was common to see large flights of ravens headed for the hills as the evening light faded. Increasingly, ravens are now forgoing the commute and roosting in Fairbanks, especially around the shopping district on the northern edge of town. Wherever there is a sign or protected area you can see the birds sitting after dark, plumage fluffed up against the cold.

Item – Raven’s Brew is a regional coffee roasting company that started in Ketchikan, Alaska, and now has roasting operations in Anchorage, Alaska and Tumwater, Washington. The company makes wonderfully flavored coffee with beans grown and harvested in an ecological and sustainable manner, and it also treats its growers and suppliers equitably. On top of that its coffee packages feature the fantastic art of Ketchikan artist, Ray Troll. I drink Raven’s Brew.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Historic roadhouse at Black Rapids, Alaska escapes destruction

Black Rapids Roadhouse in Fall 2011

Roadhouses were essential in Alaska during the early historical period. Situated a day’s travel apart (about 25 miles) along main trails they provided shelter and food for travelers, and often served as community centers. As trails and roads improved or were re-routed, some roadhouses fell into disuse. With the introduction of automobiles people could travel further in a day, and more roadhouses were abandoned or converted to other uses.
There used to be about 30 roadhouses along the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail (RichardsonHighway). Now only a handful are left. One of those is Black Rapids Roadhouse (shown in the drawing) about 40 miles south of Delta Junction. It is right across the highway from the Delta River and Black Rapids glacier.
The roadhouse opened around 1904, and was added onto Alaska-fashion over the years. It appears the oldest part of the roadhouse (the two-story log section at the south end) began as a single story, and the second floor was added later. Sections were gradually added to the north, south and east.
By the 1990s it was a rambling structure, and like an ancient English manor house, parts of it had fallen into decay. It finally closed in 1993 and by the end of the decade I thought it was destined for destruction. Several of the additions had collapsed, the roof on the center section was caving in and the two-story portion was propped upright with poles.
In 1999, Annie and Michael Hopper bought the property, planning to build a lodge  (the new Lodge at Black Rapids) on the ridge behind the decaying roadhouse. Convinced the old roadhouse could be saved, the couple undertook restoring the roadhouse as well as building a new lodge. After getting the structure added to the National Register of Historic Places and obtaining some grant funding, they (assisted by a small group of dedicated volunteers) tore down irreparable portions of the structure, and set about stabilizing the roadhouse’s oldest section.
After carefully raising the structure in sections, they put in concrete footings and new bottom courses of treated timbers. Salvaged or new logs replaced damaged ones and roofing was repaired. Now the building looks about like it did in 1915. The Hoppers hope to rebuild additional portions of the roadhouse with salvaged materials, finish the restoration, and eventually open it as a museum.
Of course, if the Black Rapids Glacier had its way, there might not be a roadhouse to restore. Back in 1937 the glacier, which now sits far up the valley across the river, surged forward, threatening to overrun the Delta River, Richardson Highway, and roadhouse. Experts estimated that the glacier traveled 220 feet per day. Between December 3, 1936 and March 7, 1937 it covered about four miles.
The mile and a quarter face of the glacier stopped just short of the Delta River. If the glacier had overrun the river, it wouldn’t have been the first time. Geologic evidence points to another surge about 600 years ago that dammed the river. The Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline runs along the base of the mountains behind the new lodge, and engineers were very concerned about possible threats to the pipeline from the glacier. Fortunately for the old roadhouse, new lodge and pipeline, scientists think a repeat of the galloping glacier is unlikely any time soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Found Art - Alaska Minimalist

This is a photo (actually three stitched together) of 55-gallon barrels stacked behind a welding shop in my neighborhood. To me, the strong verticals of the fence posts and trees, circles of the barrels, and the diagonal grid of the chain-link fence evoke the Minimalist Movement of the 1960s and '70s.  Minimalism, in which design elements were reduced to basic colors and geometric forms, was a reaction to Abstract Expressionism . I find the photo vaguely reminiscent of some Frank Stella paintings.Then again, the use of everyday objects might make the composition Pop Art.

Whatever you call it, I like it. By the way, some might think this scene (stacks of possibly leaky barrels) is an environmental accident waiting to happen. However, the other ends of the barrels were cut off and the barrels contained scrap metal and parts—found art AND recycled shelving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Modern Placer Drift Mining - Chatanika Valley, Alaska

  When its -40° F. above ground, its only +28° F. underground

I had a mining engineer friend who, knowing I was interested in modern mining as well as mining history, invited me to see an operating placer drift mine operation in the Chatanika Valley. In placer drift mines, vertical or diagonal shafts are sunk into alluvial deposits (usually to bedrock where the gold accumulates) and horizontal tunnels (the drifts) are dug following the gold deposit.

Mine Entrance
At the mine I visited, the gold was about 200 feet underground in permanently frozen ground (permafrost). In this type of operation, the tunnels are worked only during the winter, to prevent thawing of the ground. 

Tunnel slanting down into mine
Heavily insulated doors at the entrance to the tunnel seal it off during the summer.   A sloping shaft, large enough to drive down, was dug to the gold-bearing level. The tunnel was then flooded, allowing a thick layer of ice to form on the walls, reinforcing them. You can see a pneumatic hose on the upper right side of the tunnel. 

Mine ventilator
The mine is ventilated. Air in the mine is continually exhausted to the outside through vertical shafts to prevent heat buildup. Machinery and human bodies can put out enough heat to raise the air temperature a few degrees. 

Gallery slowly collapsing
Even when it is -40° F outside, the temperature underground is about +28° F, so a small rise in air temperature is enough to thaw the frozen gravel. No cribbing or tunnels supports are used, and when the frozen gravels are allowed to thaw, the tunnels will start sagging and eventually collapse.

Pneumatic drill
Horizontal drifts and galleries are blasted out of the frozen gravel. Pneumatic drills are used, and air pressure is also used to pump blasting powder into the holes. Pneumatically powered equipment (with the air pumping machinery above ground) is used wherever possible

Loading gravel
The loose gold-bearing gravel is scooped up by small front-end loaders and put in equally small dump trucks to be taken to the surface. The loaders and trucks were specially designed for underground work.

Hauling gravel to the surface
The gold-bearing gravel is stockpiled until summer, when liquid water from nearby streams will gush through large sluices to separate the dense gold from the lighter gravels. 

It was a fascinating trip and gave me lots of material for future drawings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dog mushing is essential at Denali National Park and Preserve

Denali National Park and Preserve Dog Feed Cache

Dog mushing has been an important activity in the Denali region since before the establishment of Mount McKinley National Park (now Denali National Park and Preserve). Natives in the area traditionally used dog teams for transport, and when Charles Alexander Sheldon (the father of Denali National Park) spent the winter of 1907-08 studying wildlife near the headwaters of the Toklat River, he and his packer, Harry Karstens, used dog teams extensively.

Karstens, an 1897 Klondike veteran, was an experienced sourdough. (He was the guide for the first successful ascent of Mount McKinley in 1913.) Although the park was established in 1917, it languished for several years because Congress failed to provide funding. However, in 1921 funds were finally appropriated (partly because of the imminent completion of the Alaska Railroad through the area) and Harry Karstens was appointed the new park’s superintendent (and only employee). It was Karstens who chose the park’s entrance at Riley Creek and began work on a headquarters area just west of the nearly completed Alaska Railroad.

One of Karsten’s first priorities was to bring the rampant poaching along the park’s northern boundary under control. Mount McKinley National Park had been established in part to protect the region’s wildlife, but commercial hunters routinely ignored the park boundaries to obtain meat for Fairbanks and other Interior communities. Karstens established the park’s first kennel to provide reliable sled dogs for patrolling the park’s wilderness.

A dog feed cache that combined workshop, food storage and food preparation areas, was constructed in about 1929. It was built in the “Rustic Style,” which attempted to harmonize with the surrounding environment and used local building traditions and materials. Constructed with a peeled log frame, and reverse board and batten siding (wide boards on the outside, thin boards inside covering gaps between wide boards), it was one and a half stories high, and originally consisted of just the central room with storage above, and a smaller food prep room adjacent (to the left in the drawing). Karsten’s grandson, Ken, told me that preparing food in the new building was a vast improvement over the old method—cooking the food in a huge copper kettle inside a surplus railroad construction tent (and stirring the pot with an oar).

The structure was moved by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938 to its present location at the top of a steep slope above Hines Creek.  In 1976 a sled storage room was added (to the right in the drawing). Over the years there have been other minor changes or additions. (For instance, the upper storage room was originally accessed by climbing a ladder.) The building is now part of the park’s Headquarters Historic District.

Dog mushing, and consequently the park’s dog kennels, have continued to be important assets in managing the park. They provide a link with Denali National Park’s history and allow winter access into the park’s original 2-million acre parcel, which is now designated as wilderness.

The Park Service maintains about 30 huskies at the kennels. During the winter the dogs provide transportation for rangers, collectively logging about 3,000 miles. In the summer the huskies are the center of the park’s most popular interpretive program, daily sled dog demonstrations that attract over 50,000 people annually.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mining Camp Blacksmith Shop--Fairbanks Creek, Alaska

Side of blacksmith shop at Fairbanks Creek.

I was out at an old mining camp north of Fairbanks when there was just a little snow on the ground (way before the current cold snap). This was one of the photos I took, the side of the camp’s blacksmith shop. Someday this will be the basis for a drawing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roadhouse Road Trip - Fall 2011

We took one last trip in our camper before freeze-up—a 500-mile round-trip down the Richardson Highway to Gakona Junction, up the Tok Cut-off to Tok, and then home via the Alaska Highway and Richardson Highway. One of the reasons for going was to take photos of roadhouses.
Roadhouses were an essential Alaska institution during the early historical period. Situated about 25 miles apart along main trails (and later roads), they provided shelter and food for travelers, and often served as community centers for the surrounding area. As trails and roads improved or were re-routed, some roadhouses fell into disuse. With the introduction of automobiles people could travel further without stopping for the night, and more roadhouses were abandoned or converted to other uses.
Now there are only a few historic roadhouses left, but several still stand along the Richardson Highway and Tok Cut-off. I wrote about the remains of the Richardson Roadhouse in a blog a few weeks ago. Rika’s Roadhouse is at Big Delta State Historical Park just north of Delta Junction and I have taken myriad photos there so bypassed it this trip.
Sullivan's Roadhouse
Sullivan’s Roadhouse is in Delta Junction but originally it was located about 20 miles to the south along the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail (now the Richardson Highway). The roadhouse, abandoned for decades, ended up in the middle of a military bombing range. It could have easily been lost, but fortunately, the U.S. Army relocated the building to Delta Junction, where it is now a museum.
 Black Rapids Roadhouse
Black Rapids Roadhouse is about 40 miles south of Delta Junction along the Richardson highway. It opened in 1904 and finally closed in 1993. By the end of the 1990s the roof on the older section was caving in and portions of the building were braced upright with poles. I was sure it was destined for destruction but new owners stabilized and are repairing the oldest part of the roadhouse. Unfortunately they had to tear down some of the more recent additions. Right now the roadhouse looks similar to what it looked like in its early days. It is not open, but the owners built a new lodge on the ridge behind it.
Gakona Roadhouse
 Gakona Roadhouse is at Gakona, a few miles up the Tok Cut-Off from Gakona Junction. When the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail was punched through in the early 1900s (it was an offshoot of the Valdez-Eagle trail) Gakona was where the trail took off. Eventually the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail was re-routed away from Gakona. The Gakona Roadhouse was built in 1929 and is still in operation today.
Doyle's Roadhouse
Behind the Gakona Roadhouse are the ruins of Doyle’s roadhouse, built in 1904. It was abandoned when the larger Gakona Roadhouse was built.
Slana Roadhouse
Slana, on the Tok Cut-Off about 60 miles east of Gakona and 65 miles south of Tok, is where the last roadhouse on this trip’s itinerary was located. The Slana Roadhouse is at mile 1 of the Nabesna Road. It was built in 1928 to serve travelers headed for the mining community of Nabesna about 40 miles to the east. The Tok Cut-off was re-aligned in 1953, bypassing the roadhouse. It closed shortly after that and is now a private residence.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ice Fog, Light Pillars and Moon Rings

Light pillars over Fairbanks
Moon ring in heavy ice fog
Delivering newspapers at 40 degrees below zero (part 2)

 We got a surprise this week in Fairbanks--temperatures of about 40 below zero (Fahrenheit). It usually doesn’t get that cold until later in winter. Makes me glad I’m not delivering newspapers this winter.
The cold weather doesn’t really bother me. I actually like walking at pretty much any temperature (as long as I’m dressed properly) but getting up every morning at 1:00 am and walking 5 miles got kind of old after a while. While I don’t miss delivering newspapers every night, there are a few things I do miss about those nightly walks. And some of those are directly related to those cold, cold, cold nights.
In Alaska and other frigid climes, we get ice fog, which forms when water vapor and extremely low temperatures try to mix. At 40 degrees below zero, water vapor (from your breath, an open lead on a river, stoves, or from automobile exhausts) cools almost instantly and forms minute ice crystals. Most of those crystals become suspended in the air.
Unfortunately, the geography of Fairbanks traps the cold and ice fog in an inversion layer. Until the local temperatures rise and the ice crystals convert back to water vapor, the ice fog collects—often thickly—and hangs over town. Usually it is thicker along frequently traveled roads.
Ice fog does have a few plusses—at least if you have a warped artistic bent. One is that those thousands of suspended crystals glitter in the light of street lamps, giving a person with the time to enjoy it a fantasy view of the world.
The other plus is that the suspended ice crystals are usually oriented horizontally. The ice fog above you can reflect and refract light back down towards the ground. If the conditions are right you can see pillars or columns of light that seem suspended directly over light sources on the ground.
A similar phenomenon is moon rings, where ice crystals (usually suspended high in the air) can create circular halos around the moon. When the ice crystals are high in the atmosphere, the halo can be well defined. If the ice crystals are lower in the atmosphere (say right in front of you) the halo is more wide-spread.
Ah—I’m growing nostalgic for the good old days. Think I’ll go outside and take a deep breath.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Alaska Road Commission - 55 years helping develop Alaska

An old horse-drawn grader (shown in the drawing) sits at the Alaska Department of Transportation offices on Peger Road in Fairbanks. Built by Western Wheeled Scraper in Aurora, Illinois, it is probably one of the earliest graders still in existence in Alaska, dating from about 1900. (The design was patented in 1898.)  It’s an amazing machine, and incorporates most of the movements standard on modern motorized graders. Of course, everything on the grader was operated by hand and it must have taken a burly operator.

It was utilized by the Alaska Road Commission (ARC), the entity responsible for trail and road construction throughout Alaska from 1905 to 1960. Prior to the ARC’s creation, the federal government, through several laws, had tried building roads in the territory.  Each attempt proved inadequate, in part because the government did not take an active role or provide direct funding.

The Nelson Act of 1905 changed that with the establishment of the “Board of Road Commissioners for Alaska” (more commonly called the Alaska Road Commission). The ARC, under the authority of the War Department, was tasked with constructing and maintaining trails and roads in the territory, and was overseen (at least in its early years) by a board of three Army officers. Its first chairman was Brigadier General Wilds P. Richardson.  The commission was funded through a combination of fees and direct appropriations from Congress.

The ARC began work immediately--flagging winter trails, upgrading and blazing new trails, and constructing roads. The early years were arduous, with the ARC having to deal with permafrost, rugged terrain, and seasonally swollen streams. In permafrost areas, corduroy roads were constructed (logs were laid perpendicular to the roadway and covered by gravel).  Bridge building was avoided by fording small streams and using ferries to cross major rivers (such as the Tanana at Big Delta). One of its earliest projects was upgrading the Valdez-Fairbanks trail to a wagon road (completed by 1910).

In 1932 the ARC was transferred to the Department of the Interior. By that time it had constructed over 1,000 miles of roads, and over 4,000 miles of trails.  The Bureau of Public Roads, which eventually became the Federal Highway Administration, assumed responsibility for the ARC in 1956--an important milestone since it could now receive federal funds under the Federal Aid Highway Act. In 1960 the ARC was transferred to the new State of Alaska, becoming the Alaska State Highway Department.

Many of Alaska’s historic highways are named for Road Commission officers instrumental in their construction: the Richardson for Brigadier General Wilds Richardson, the Steese for Colonel James Steese, the Elliott for Major Malcolm Elliott, the Edgerton for Major General Glen Edgerton, and the Taylor for ARC president Ike Taylor.

When the State assumed the ARC’s responsibilities, it took over the maintenance of about 3,000 miles of roads, most constructed by the commission.  Although the ARC is gone, its equipment and buildings can still be seen at places such as Big Delta State Historical Park, or scattered along roadsides across the state.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Art is Where you find It - Found Art - Formed Art

 There is a weathered cedar fence beside my house and I get immense pleasure in watching it (simple things for simple minds). One of my art professors in college was very much into “found” art—not in the sense of finding common man-made objects and turning them into art, but of man-made objects that in context with their surroundings become art. A tangle of telephone lines when seen from a particular angle could thus become art.
So it is with my fence. As the seasons progress (or I pile things haphazardly against it) the art of my fence changes. Pictured above is the fence art I found one day during a winter thaw. In this instance the differential melting of the snow was influenced by the fence, and the fence and snow together formed the art.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Trail to Eldorado, Chatanika Valley, Alaska

Last post I published a drawing of an old building at Little Eldorado Creek and talked about the area’s history. This time I’m putting up some photos from my hike out there a few years ago.

Chatanika Gold Camp
Dredge No. 3
As I said in the last post, the area I was headed for (about half way between Chatanika on the Steese Highway and Olnes on the Elliott Highway) is boggy and almost impossible to get to in the summer. Winter snows would have obscured the building I wanted to see, so I planned to hike out after the first snow in mid-October.  No-one lives in the area and there were no roads.

 I drove the 25 or so miles from Fairbanks to Chatanika and parked at the Chatanika Lodge. The Chatanika  Gold Camp is on the hill above the highway just before the lodge. It was a support camp for Gold Dredge No. 3, which is located just beyond it. 

Old Chatanika Outhous
Log Cabin at Old Chatanika
The trail in to Old Chatanika begins right across the highway. Old Chatanika is what’s left of the early townsite, located on Lower Cleary Creek before it empties into the Chatanika River. The Fairbanks Exploration Company bought up the town in the 1920s and moved its dredge in, digging up most of the town. The dredge now sits where the town used to be.

 Old Chatanika is about a mile across the tailings, on the hillside above the dredged area. There isn’t much left, just a few log cabins, some collapsed frame buildings, and various bits and pieces of equipment.

From Old Chatanika I followed the abandoned right-of-way for the Tanana Valley Railroad, a narrow-gauge operation that shut down in the 1930s. The right-of-way is still used as a winter trail but since it had just snowed I beat the snowmachines into the area. (In Alaska they’re snowmachines, not snowmobiles.)
Old car near Ruby Creek

Disturbed area near Ruby Creek
 About a half mile beyond Old Chatanika I neared Ruby Creek, which was another mined-over area. There’s lots of evidence of mining activity, abandoned equipment, etc. One of my favorites (although the photographs never turned out) was a 20-foot tall birch tree growing up through the bottom of a rusty white-enameled pan. 

Ore bucket and gin pole
Bunk house upstream from gin pol
At Ruby Creek is the old Sampeii drift mine. The bunk house, boiler shed and gin pole are on one side of the creek. The old ore bucket sits on the other side.
The land beyond Ruby Creek starts to get muskegy so that was about as far as I had gone on previous hikes. From there on it was new territory for me. I had the trail all to myself, and the only sounds were of my boots crunching through the snow and the chickadees singing in the trees. The sky was clear, it was about 15 degrees above zero and I didn’t have a care in the world. Well—almost no cares. I was by myself and there were probably moose in the area. There had also been reports of wolves near town, so I was packing a 44 magnum revolver.

EldoradoStation from the front
Side view of building
About three miles later I finally arrived at Little Eldorado Creek where the building that may or may not have been a train depot was located. I’ve shown the front and the side of the building so you can see how it leans, and the poles propping it up. I didn’t dare go inside. I spent as much time as I could there but the days are starting to get short by mid-October so I reluctantly retraced my steps back to civilization.

I just want to finish by saying I had permission from the land owners to cross their property. Before going on jaunts like this make sure to check land status and get permission.

Monday, November 7, 2011

All that's left of Eldorado - Chatanika Valley, Alaska

Eldorado Creek building as it looked in 1994

The Tanana Valley Railroad (which operated from 1905 to 1930 under various names and owners) used to run 35 miles from Fairbanks to Chatanika through country that, although close to town, probably relatively few people have seen. The TVRR followed the route of the present-day Alaska Railroad right-of-way from Fairbanks to the Goldstream Valley, then along Goldstream to Fox and the old townsite of Gilmore, and over the hills to the old Olnes townsite about 20 miles north of Fairbanks (the Elliot Highway follows roughly the same route). Then the railroad right-of-way turned east-northeast and ran an additional six miles to Chatanika.

About half way from Olnes to Chatanika the railroad crossed Little Eldorado Creek, which flowed down from the Cleary Summit area to the south. Three miles up that creek was the bustling little mining hamlet of Eldorado City, so it was natural that a small train station was established at Little Eldorado Creek and a road constructed to Eldorado City. For many years the building in this drawing was identified as "the" Eldorado Station.

However, some old-timers say it is actually an Eldorado City building that was put on skids and hauled down the creek at a later date. Eldorado City is now gone. In fact, the town didn't even survive into the mid 1900s. The easy gold diggings in the Fairbanks area were exhausted by the mid 1910s, and many of the smaller gold camps such as Eldorado City just withered away. Even Fairbanks experienced a drastic population decrease.

Then the Fairbanks Exploration Company moved into the area in the 1920s, bought up mining claims along all the major creeks and began dredging. Eldorado City's buildings had to be moved or destroyed to make way for the dredge which began operations in 1947. So in either case, this is all that's left of Eldorado.

The old TVRR right-of-way through the Chatanika Valley passes through a lot of low-lying muskeg and marshy areas, and the building in the picture is pretty much impossible to get to to except during winter. Back in the mid-1990s a group of us railroad buffs tried to walk the old right-of way from Olnes to Chatanika one summer, but when the ground under our feet started acting like Jello we turned back. I was able to get out there by waiting until early October, after the ground had frozen but before deep snow covered the trail. Then I hiked in the three or so miles from the Chatanika end. (In my next post I'll talk about my hike out there and put up a few photos of other sights along the way.)

If you look closely at the drawing you will see a large post propped against the back of the building. There were actually about 10 or so posts back there holding the building up, and numerous small posts inside holding up the second floor. I haven't been out there in over 10 years, so who knows what is left of Eldorado now.


  • Fairbanks North Star Borough property records
  • “Historic Resources in the Fairbanks North Star Borough,” Janet Matheson & F. Bruce Haldeman, 1981, Fairbanks North Star Borough
  • “Tanana Valley Railroad, the Gold Dust Line,” Nicholas Deely, 1996, Denali Designs
  • “History of Alaska Operations of United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company,” John Boswell, 1979, Mineral Industries Research Laboratory, University of Alaska

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome to the YMCA - Old Door in Skagway, Alaska

Skagway may not seem to be related to Interior Alaska, but there is a link. This city was one of the main ports of entry to the Klondike, and when the Klondike gold rush died down, many of the gold-seekers and their followers moved on to Interior Alaska. Some of Fairbanks's prominent early citizens actually got their start in Skagway.
 When I visited Skagway in 1998, there were only a few commercial buildings in the core area that had not been acquired by the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, or renovated by businesses or local residents. This pen and ink drawing is of the front door to one of those buildings. A friend told me the building was owned by an elderly local gentleman who had operated an automotive garage there. I peeked through the boarded up windows and could see old fan belts and other auto parts hanging on the wall.
I returned to Skagway in the summer of 2009 and the old building was still vacant and boarded up. However, I later learned that the building had been donated to the National Park Service earlier that year by the Rasmuson Foundation (an Alaskan foundation dedicated to promoting a better life for Alaskans).
The building was constructed in 1900 as the first YMCA gymnasium in Alaska. It was later converted to a meat market, and later an automotive garage. It is now being restored and will eventually serve as the Klondike Gold Rush Historic Research Center.