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Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city and the Interior's service and supply center. Recreational activities include hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, camping, rafting, skiing, and dog mushing. Races in the area include the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race and the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race.


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Eskimo Olympics

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Fairbanks History

On a spring day in 1902, Felix Pedro, an Italian immigrant searching for gold in the hills of the Tanana Valley, spotted the smoke of a steam boat unloading on the banks of the Chena River. Hoping to purchase supplies, he headed in the direction of the boat.

Meanwhile, Mr. E.T. Barnette was arguing with the captain of the riverboat on which he was traveling. He had hired the captain to take him up the Tanana River to the present day site of Tanacross. However, the Tanana River could not be passed and the Chena River also proved too shallow. So, the captain put Barnette and his large stock of trade goods ashore near the present site of First Avenue and Cushman.

E.T. Barnette was quite disgruntled with the prospect of establishing his trading post so far from the existing gold fields. However, when Felix Pedro arrived in camp, Barnette changed his mind. He figured if there were prospectors in the area, money could be made. As luck would have it, three months later Felix Pedro found gold.


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Mr. Barnette, strong in personality, convinced early settlers to name Fairbanks in honor of Charles W. Fairbanks, an Indiana senator. Charles Fairbanks later became the Vice President of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt.

On November 10, 1903, an election was held to decide whether Fairbanks should be incorporated. The residents believed that Fairbanks was sufficiently established and that they should be given the responsibility to provide for their own daily community functions. By a 75% majority vote, Fairbanks was incorporated on November 10, 1903. At the same election, the people also chose a mayor, council members, and school board members.

The first Fairbanks City Mayor was E.T. Barnette. Forty-six mayors have been elected since then.

From its meager beginnings in 1903, the population of City of Fairbanks has now grown to 31,655.  

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The Immacuate Conception Church on the North bank of the Chena River at Cushman Street bridge is the town's first Catholic church, built in 1904.
Originally it was located on the other side of the river, on First Avenue and Dunkel Street.
In the winter of 1911, the church was moved closer to old St. Joseph's Hospital, now the Denali State Bank. Horses pulled it across the frozen river, using logs to roll it. 

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last updated:  15.04.2008