Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day trip to Tanacross

St. Timothy's Church
I just returned from a day trip to Tanacross, which is about eight miles west of Tok. Tanacross (formerly known as Tanana Crossing) is an Athabascan Indian village. I went there to take photographs of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. (While the church is Episcopalian, it is operated under a cooperative agreement by Lutherans.)

The village is on the south bank of the Tanana River. Up until 1972 it was located on the north bank, but water contamination forced the village to move. I guess it made more sense to move to the same side of the river as the Alaska Highway and Tok than to move to a different location on the north side of the river.

Head-frame at Tanana River
Tanacross is where the old Valdez-Eagle Trail crossed the Tanana River. The river was shallow enough here for horses to ford. This second photo shows a head-frame at the location where the pack trains used to cross. There are old utility lines attached to these poles, and this is where the lines crossed the river to the old village site. Although the head-frame looks similar to those used for guiding ferries across other Alaska rivers, residents who grew up in the old village assure me that there never was a ferry at Tanacross.

Well-house at YACC camp

 About a mile from the current village is the remains of a Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) camp. (It closed in the 1980s.) This is a photo of the old well-house. It’s hard to see in the photo, but there is a small stand of spruce growing on top of the well-house roof. The biggest spruce on top of the well-house is about ten feet tall.

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