Thursday, October 15, 2009

Both the weather and the visibility deteriorated as we headed north of Anchorage towards Fairbanks. There seemed to be lots of fires all over Alaska and Yukon causing the haze.Had a good look at this impressive bridge along the way, but forgot to note it's name or river!
Lunchtime on August 6th, we pulled off onto this river bank to rustle up some lunch grub.
Since the navigator was also the chef, I guess I should call it lunch cuisine, not grub!
A view of the smoke over the river.
The navigator and chef was also in charge of trip entertainment - which was picked to match the locale. For instance, Robert Service poetry was recited in appropriate locations of the Yukon, including Lake Labarge.
In this vein, she had also rented a copy of "Into the Wild", which recounts the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who perished in this region of Alaska in 1992. And we watched it while in the area of Alaska where he died. We camped one night around Mile 254 which was close to the start of the Stampede Trail - where his old bus was located. You can easily see the bus on Google Earth.

From Wikipedia

The trail gained notoriety in 1992 with the death of Christopher McCandless, who had lived in a bus parked on an overgrown section of the trail near Denali National Park [1] that had been left behind by the Yutan Construction Company during the road building to serve as a backcountry shelter for hunters, trappers and ranger patrols. The bus can be seen clearly on Google Earth 63.8683972°N 149.7693028°W / 63.8683972; -149.7693028 and Google Maps. In recent years, the trail has seen a pilgrimage of visitors wanting to see the bus where McCandless perished. The September 2007 release of the film version of Jon Krakauer's book about McCandless, Into the Wild, has revived interest in the trail.

There was still 'smoke on the water', but we did not play the Deep Purple song of the same name.We crossed over the Tanana River and stopped to explore Rika's Roadhouse.
I guess this was an Alaskan bus. I hope it does not get shot at! (Click any photo for a larger view)
Rika's is now a designated historic site on the banks of the Tanana River on the freight trail to Fairbanks.
The main roadhouse building.
Several barns, sheds and workshops are also preserved and restored.

This sign in front of the roadhouse on the banks of the Tanana details a truckers rebellion that occured here. If you cannot read the sign, I found the text of it on another blogger site, and pasted it below.
Taken from another blogger's visit in 2005

THE TRUCKERS REBELLION. "The Federally-built Alaska Railroad, which extends from the port of Seward to Fairbanks, was completed in 1923. It was later evident that the railroad was losing money - in the summer it was cheaper to ship goods by truck over the Richardson Hwy from the port of Valdez. (To make sense of this story, you have to know that the railroad from Seward to Fairbanks is at least 150 miles apart from the Richardson Hwy from Valdez to Fairbanks all the way). In 1935, the Interior Department established fees for truckers on the highway in an effort to promote more traffic on the railroad. When the truckers refused to pay, the Department, through the Alaska Railroad Commission, instituted tolls here for the ferry. At first, the toll succeeded in cutting the amount of freight carried over the highway.

"Truckers soon protested and refused to pay the toll. During 1939 and 1940, they loaded their goods on their own home-made scow, and boated them across the river. The truckers also began using the official ferry without the ferryman's permission and without paying the toll. In September of 1940, a US Marshal was dispatched from Fairbanks and 14 men were arrested.

"On October 14, 1940, the truckers seized the US marshal stationed at Big Delta, took his shotgun and locked him up in the scale house. The truckers moved 10 loads across the ferry, then released the marshal and gave him back his gun. A grand jury in Fairbanks refused to charge the truckers with kidnapping. The previously arrested truckers were also acquitted. Shortly after these incidents, the ferry was removed from the water for winter and the controversy cooled.

"In June, 1941, the truckers used their own "private" ferry, thus avoiding the government owned ferry and the toll. The government retaliated and erected a gate at Shaw Creek, 12 miles up the road, where truckers had to show their toll receipt. Some truckers rammed the gate. The truckers and the Alaska Railroad Commission finally agreed that the fees would be put in escrow until the matter was decided. The validity of the tolls was upheld by the District court. But, with the start of World War II, there was enough freight for the railroad to make a profit, so tolls on the Richardson Hwy were removed in 1942. In 1943, a bridge was erected to cross the river, making the ferry obsolete, and the conflict at the ferry was over."

Below is my photo of the same scales shown above, with the modern bridge in the distant background.
The main roadhouse building faced the river - which was the main transportation route at the time.
Next: on the Chicken, Alaska!

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