Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Old Lindy's Grocery building is a survivor

The photo above is of the old Lindy's Grocery Store building at 3450 College Road.  Carroll "Lindy" Lindberg and his wife, Barbara, owned and operated Lindy's Grocery at its downtown Fairbanks, and College Road locations from the 1940s until 1989.

When I drove past the building earlier this year the exterior was stripped down and I thought the building was probably being torn down. To my surprise and delight, the owners were only rehabilitating the building. The photo is of the building as it looks now.

I hope the building is around for many years to come. Too many historic Fairbanks buildings disappear, only to have businesses replace them with structures that reflect a national corporate identity instead of local community flavor.

College seems to be doing a much better job than Fairbanks at keeping its community identity . Yay College!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Siberian Asters in my front yard

My front yard is a native-species garden. Fortunately, may of the wildflowers appearing there are volunteers, sown by the wind and birds. Siberian Asters (Aster sibiricus Linnaeus) are some of the volunteers. This year we are getting a nice aster showing.

If you look closely at the photo above, however, you can see that not all the volunteers are natives. There are a few invasives, like clover, that I need to eradicate.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Northern Bedstraw among my junipers

I noticed some Northern Bedstraw (Galium boreale) poking up through my common juniper bushes this summer. The bedstraw has confined itself in years past to the highbush cranberries, but it looks just as lovely against the junipers.

The plant is edible, and I have read that it is a member of the coffee family and the tiny fruits can be roasted and used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lake Louise panorama - 7-10-2013

We stopped at Lake Louise on our recent road trip. This is a panorama taken from the dock at Lake Louise Lodge (six shots stitched together--it probably covers about 150 degrees). I had to minimize the image to fit it onto the page, but if you click on the image you can see a larger version.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Close up of dwarf birch at Tangle Lakes, Denali Highway

I believe this is dwarf or resin birch (betula glandulosa). Resin birch and dwarf arctic birch (betula nana) are similar and can occupy the same habitat and cross-pollinate, so identifying them can sometimes be difficult.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Old Paxson Roadhouse crumbling into ruin

I took this photo at the beginning of "summer," and just came across it again. This is one of the original Paxson roadhouses, about a 1/2 mile north of Paxson Lodge. It is across the Richardson Highway from the DOT maintenance camp. There is no sign marking it and it doesn't show up on maps. When all the summer foliage is out you can zip right by on the highway and probably not even notice the building.

I said one of the original roadhouses, because I think this is actually the second Paxson roadhouse. Photos of the original, built in about 1906, show a two-story affair.  I assume the original burned down.

Photos of this second roadhouse taken in the 1930s show a single-story structure twice the size of these ruins. The Paxson Lodge down the road was built in the 1950s after the south wing of the second roadhouse burned.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bunnell House (oldest building on campus) still an important part of University of Alaska, Fairbanks

The Bunnell House as it looked in about 2000

The Alaska College of Agriculture and School of Mines (now the University of Alaska Fairbanks) got off to a slow and shaky start. Established in 1917 with an initial appropriation of $60,000 from the territorial legislature, the school’s trustees immediately began construction of a classroom building on what quickly became known as “College Hill.”

The legislature met bi-annually, and by the time it next convened in 1919, the classroom building was essentially complete. However, the college had negligible funds left to equip the building, hire instructors, and open the school.

Although $50,000 was requested, no bills were passed that year to fund the college, so its trustees were forced to wait another two years, hoping the next legislature would be more amenable. In 1921, the college did receive $41,000 to finish and equip the classroom building, hire a faculty and build a residence for the school’s president (shown in the drawing). An amendment to the funding bill stipulated the cost for the president’s house was not to exceed $8,000.

Almost all the college’s early buildings, being of wood-frame construction, were eventually replaced. However, the president’s residence, known now as the Bunnell House (in honor of the college’s first president, Charles E. Bunnell), still survives, and is the oldest campus building still in use.

The president’s residence was a six-room wood-frame cottage with full basement. Constructed in the summer of 1922 (the college began classes that fall), the house was located adjacent to the only road onto campus, about where the Lola Tilly Commons is now located.

Finances were tight during the college’s early years, and everyone, from President Bunnell down to the students, worked multiple jobs. Twelve students enrolled during the college’s first year, and except for one senior, all were freshman. This meant no advanced courses for most of the instructors. According to William Cashen’s book, “Farthest North College President,” Earl Pilgrim, the metallurgy instructor, spent many of his free hours that first semester painting and wallpapering the interior of the president’s residence.

Bunnell was a tireless and dedicated worker. Neil Davis, in “The College Hill Chronicles,” writes, “Most of President Bunnell’s waking hours were spent in his office or working somewhere else on the campus. Late at night he retired to his small frame residence, which stood like a guard house near the entrance to the campus and allowed him to observe all who entered there and at what hour.”

President Bunnell lived in that house until his death in 1956. This was in spite of the fact that he resigned as college president in 1949. Terris Moore was appointed the new president that same year and Bunnell was given the title of “President Emeritus.”

At the regents meeting in spring 1949 (by this time the college had become the University of Alaska), Bunnell informed the regents that he had no intention of leaving the president’s residence, and Moore and the regents decided not to force the issue. Moore and his family were housed temporarily in the university infirmary until moving into newly built quarters later that year.

After Bunnell’s death, his house was used as faculty housing until the 1970s. It was relocated to its present location on Chatanika Drive, behind the university fire station, in 1958. The building now houses the university’s Early Childhood Development program.

Situated on a hillside, the Bunnell house in its present location still has a lovely view of Chena and Tanana River lowlands (albeit facing a different direction). It is also still used for education, something Charles Bunnell would be pleased with.


·         Farthest North College President, Charles E. Bunnell and the early history of the University of Alaska, William R. Cashen, 1972, University of Alaska Press
·         If these walls could talk, the Bunnell House, Scott McCrea, August 2006, University of Alaska Marketing and Publications
·         The Cornerstone on College Hill, Terrence Cole, 1994, University of Alaska Press
·         The College Hill Chronicles, How the University of Alaska Came of Age, Neil Davis, 1992, University of Alaska Foundation

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blueberry picking time in Fairbanks--2013

We went blueberry picking this afternoon at our favorite spot near Olnes Pond along the Elliott Highway. There are plenty of blueberries this year (as opposed to last year's dismal pickings). We also saw quite a few cloudberries and lots of ripening lowbush cranberries. Returns visits are planned.

Lowbush Cranberries or Lingonberries

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sevenmile Lake and the Alaska Range from Mile 6.5 of Denali Highway

One last panorama from our recent Denali Highway trip. This is taken from the viewpoint at about Milepost 6.5, looking north. Sevenmile Lake is in the foreground. Summit Lake can be barely seen over the ridge at the right edge of the photo. I believe the lake to the left of Sevemile Lake in the background is Two Bit Lake.

The Sevenmile Lake in this photo  is not to be confused with the larger Sevenmile Lake north of Glacier Gap Lake, at about milepost 30 of the highway. (And how many Summit Lakes do you suppose there are in the Alaska Range?)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pingos along the Denali Highway

Here are a couple of pingos we saw along the Denali Highway. I think they were at about mile 49.

Pingo is an Inuit (Northern Eskimo) word meaning hill. The term was borrowed in 1938 by Danish botanist, Alf Erling Porsild, to describe a specific kind of hill: a rounded or conical hill having an ice core, and only found in regions with permafrost (permanently frozen soils).

There are several types of pingos. The ones shown in the photo are probably hydraulic or open-system pingos. These usually form at the base of slopes, and artesian aquifers (where water is under pressure) provide the water that forms the pingo's icy core. In this case I assume the esker to the left of the pingos is supplying the aquifers. Some open-system pingos have springs near them.