Community Profile: Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City

07/23/2010
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They call it the Golden Heart City. And between its history as an energetic mining town, its location in the heart of Alaska, the midnight sun and genuine hospitality, the name is no misnomer. It’s Alaska’s second largest city and a hub to the Interior. If you like to be active all year round (and if you live in Alaska year round, you better), put a trip north on your radar. If you’ve never been to the Arctic (and many Alaskans haven’t) it’s easier than you think — even in just a day — with Arctic Circle flights from Fairbanks. The Chena and Tanana rivers course right through town, and you won’t find an empty riverside deck anywhere along them during the summer. A gentle float down the Chena River enters the “Two Rivers Area,” home to many famous dog mushers and a variety of wildlife including mink, lynx, wolves, beavers, otters and bears. Of course, there’s plenty of ways to explore the gold rush history, through gold mine tours and visiting the Museum of the North with a staggering collection of natural and cultural icons.  A special treat is the short 60-mile drive out to Chena Hot Springs Resort to explore the Aurora Ice Museum (made from 1,000 tons of ice) and a dip in the natural outdoor rock lake.

But Fairbanks was an energetic town long before Alaska was even a state, beginning back in 1902 when gold was discovered here. The city’s most famous dredge, Gold Dredge No. 8 — still the most viewed in the state — recovered more than 7 million ounces of gold from 1928-1959. The construction of the Alaska Railroad, the Alaska Highway and the trans-Alaska oil pipeline all contributed to the growth of Fairbanks. It was even home to the original campus of University of Alaska, incorporated in 1917. More than 100 years after its inception, Fairbanks is a boomtown of oil, gas, gold and coal mining, a flourishing university and of course: tourism. The original inhabitants of Fairbanks were swept up by gold fever but we’re glad they stuck around to plow some trails, navigate some rivers and build some fantastic properties for those who followed to stay and explore.

All of these experiences can be booked at the Tour Desk of the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge.

“Community Profile” is a blog series that provides a closer look at the towns, history and events near Princess lodges in Alaska.