More than a century of Interior Alaska history is on display at the Fairbanks Community and Dog Mushing Museum.
The museum, located on the second floor of the Co-Op Plaza, 535 Second Ave., retells Fairbanks’ story through photographs, newspaper clippings and other artifacts.
One display offers a glimpse into how residents amuse themselves during long, cold winters. A display about the Klondike Gold Rush, lots of dog mushing memorabilia, photographs and home movies from the historic 1967 flood are just some of the additional offerings.
The collection of historic photographs includes classic pictures of miners arduously ascending Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush. Some of those prospectors eventually made their way to Interior Alaska, striking gold in the hills surrounding Fairbanks and helping to put the Golden Heart City on the map. Examples of beaded mittens and slippers made in the Interior Alaska village of Galena, located on the north bank of the Yukon River, are on display. Another display case boasts a bearskin coat with a wolf ruff.
The museum also possesses an old panoramic photograph of Fairbanks that is believed to have once adorned a wall at the Nordale Hotel, which burned down in 1972. It was found in a dump and donated to the museum, and burn marks on the picture lend truth to the story that it was salvaged from the hotel’s ruins.
The museum has exhibits dedicated to the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
One exhibit features the Mackey family, which includes champions of both the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race — sometimes both. Dick Mackey won the Iditarod in 1978, by a nose. His son, Rick, won the race in 1983 and added a Yukon Quest win in 1997. Dick’s son Lance won both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod four consecutive times each, including two consecutive years in which won both races. The sled he used in his 2008 victory is on display.
Other exhibits include more than 400 photographs of the aurora borealis taken by late photographer Warren Gammel and which can be viewed on an electric display that has been set to symphonic music. Twice a day, mushing-related movies, including “Seasons of the Sled Dog,” a film about musher Mary Shields as well as others, are screened.
Check out one of the dog sleds that Charlie Biederman used to haul mail up and down the Yukon River. Biederman was the last contract mailman to deliver mail by dog sled. His route stretched 160 miles between Circle and Eagle on the Yukon River and was discontinued in 1938.
Another exhibit pays tribute to the late George Attla, one of the greatest sprint-race dog sled champions.
Across a wall are professional photographs showing all manner of wintertime events and activities in Fairbanks, including a picture of the famous outhouse races that used to take place at the Chatanika Lodge.
Admission is free, though donations are gratefully accepted. A small gift shop with Alaska literature and keepsakes helps fund the museum.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.