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Friday, June 17, 2011

Ever Wonder What It's Like Living in Alaska?

Moose in my yard, I have so many moose butt pictures!

Here is a kind of fun article I found in the News Miner a few days ago.  I thought it may be interesting to any of you who eve wondered what it's like living here, it may even be interesting to those who do.  

Tips, trivia and fun facts about Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - When was Fairbanks founded?

It was incorporated in 1903 but it was actually founded in 1901 when E.T. Barnette set out to establish a trading post at Tanacross on the Tanana River. Low water in the Tanana River forced Barnette to put in a few miles up one of its tributaries, the Chena River. Finding more miners than he expected in the area, Barnette decided to open his trading post here and move to Tanacross the following summer. However, he wound up staying when Felix Pedro discovered gold in the area north of Fairbanks and the city sprouted around Barnette’s trading post. Barnette became the first mayor of the city when it was incorporated in 1903.

How did Fairbanks get its name?

Fairbanks was named by city founder E.T. Barnette in honor of Sen. Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana, who would go on to serve at Theodore Roosevelt’s vice president.

Do people still mine gold in Fairbanks?

Yes. The largest open-pit gold mine in Alaska, Fort Knox Gold Mine, is located 26 miles north of Fairbanks. Operating since 1996, the mine poured its 5 millionth ounce of gold in early 2011, with another 3 million still to be mined. The Pogo Gold Mine, an underground gold mine located 85 miles southeast of Fairbanks, began operation in 2007 and produces about 340,000 ounces of gold a year. It has an estimated reserve of 5.6 million ounces.

Can you see the northern lights in the summer?

No. The aurora borealis is visible in Fairbanks for approximately 200 days a year, roughly from mid-September to April. The best viewing is usually December through March when it is clearest and coldest. Northern lights are present year round but the daylight prevents them from being visible during the summer.

Why are there electrical outlets in all the parking lots?

Due to the extreme cold temperatures in Fairbanks during the winter, most vehicles are equipped with several electric “heating” devices that facilitate starting during the coldest time.

The standard set up consists of a engine block heater that circulates warm water through the cooling system, an oil pan heater that warms the oil, and a battery blanket/pad that warms the battery. It usually takes an hour or two after a vehicle is plugged in to warm it enough to start. Most employers provide “plug-ins” for its employees.

How long does the Chena River stay frozen?

The Chena River usually freezes sometime in mid to late October and remains frozen until late April or early May.

One part of the river, about a mile-long stretch from the Aurora Energy power plant on First Avenue to Pioneer Park, remains open year-round because of the warm water being discharged from the power plant.

How many moose live in Fairbanks?

In the Fairbanks Management Area, which basically covers Fairbanks’ urban environment — if you can call it that — there are an estimated 500 moose, according to surveys conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That area encompasses everything from Ester to North Pole to Fox. The number of moose in game management unit 20B, which encompasses most of the road system surrounding Fairbanks from Salcha to Chena Hot Springs to Chatanika to Manley to Nenana, is estimated at approximately 20,000.

That population has nearly doubled in the past decade. As a result, the Department of Fish and Game has been issuing more hunting permits for cow moose in both the Fairbanks Management Area and other areas along the road system in the past few years.

“The goal is to keep a nice balance of moose numbers so people have the opportunity to see moose but not to have a lot of nuisance complaints and conflicts and to keep road kill to a minimum,” Fairbanks area biologist Don Young with the Department of Fish and Game said.

How many moose get hit by cars around Fairbanks?

On average, approximately 150 moose are killed on Fairbanks area roads each year. The dead moose are salvaged by local charities so the meat does not go to waste.

How do people drive in the winter?

Most Alaskan drivers in the Interior use studded snow tires or special winter tires for extra traction on the snow and ice. Studded tires can be used from Sept. 15 to May 1 in Fairbanks and other areas north of 60 degrees latitude and Sept. 30 to April 15 in areas south of 60 degrees.

Is it dark all day long in the winter?

Not really. The shortest day of the year is on Dec. 21, the winter solstice, when there is 3 hours, 43 minutes, of official daylight.

But there is usually a half-hour or so of twilight on each side of sunrise and sunset that translates to about 4 or 5 hours of light during the darkest days, from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Granted, it’s not bright light, but we’ll take all we can get. After Dec. 21, we start gaining 6-7 minutes of daylight each day.

Is it light all day long in the summer?

Look out the window. Seriously, though, the longest day of the year is on June 21, the summer solstice, when there is 21 hours, 49 minutes of official daylight. At that point, in the last half of June and first half of July, it pretty much is light all day long. After June 21, we start losing 6-7 minutes of daylight each day.

How do you sleep in the summer with all the light?

You close your eyes and count moose. Kidding aside, most people who have spent much time in Fairbanks during the summer either are used to the extended daylight or they get a good set of curtains to keep the light out at night. Beyond that, you can use a mask to cover your eyes or move to the Lower 48.

Why do people drive around with big, plastic water tanks in the back of their pickup trucks?

Many people in Fairbanks do not have wells because of the high iron and/or arsenic content and instead use holding tanks that are buried beneath the ground and plumbed into the house. Holding tanks for residential homes are usually 1,000 to 1,500 gallons. People with holding tanks have two options: Pay 8 to 10 cents a gallon to get water delivered by one of several water delivery companies in town or haul their own water at 1 to 2 cents per gallon.

What do people do outdoors in Fairbanks during the winter?

You’d be amazed at how many people you see doing things outdoors in the winter in Fairbanks, even when it’s 20 or 30 degrees below zero. Cross-country skiing, skijoring, dog mushing, snowshoeing, snowmachining and ice fishing are all popular wintertime activities.

What do dog mushers do with their sled dogs in the summer?

For the most part, sled dogs get a chance to catch their breath and shed their fur during the summer months.

While most mushers typically stop running their sled dogs at the end of April when the snow melts, some mushers do exercise their dogs during the summer months using bicycles and ATVs instead of sleds.

Competitive racers usually start regularly training their dogs again in August when the weather cools by hitching them to the front of an ATV and having the dogs pull it or running the machine at a 10-12 mph pace behind the dogs.

Mushers will use ATVs to train their dogs until there is enough snow to use a sled, usually sometime in mid- to late November.

Fairbanks Facts

• City population: 35,252*

• Borough population: 97,970*

• Military personnel: Approximately 16,500

• Driving miles to Anchorage: 358 on the Parks Highway.

• Driving miles to Arctic Circle: 200 on the Elliott and Dalton highways.

• Daily newspapers: 1

• Television stations: 8

• Radio stations: 16

• Median household income: $40,577

• Biggest private employer: Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, 1,302 workers in 2007.

• Political makeup: 58 percent Republican; 39.3 percent Democrat**

• Hottest temperature ever recorded in summer: 99 degrees on July 28, 1919

• Coldest temperature ever recorded in winter: 66 degrees below zero on Jan. 14, 1934

• Average winter snowfall: 67.4 inches (over last 30 years)

• Record winter snowfall: 147.3 inches —1990-91

• Average date of first snow: Sept. 21

• Snowiest month: November, 13.8 inches

• Wettest month: August, 1.74 inches

• Driest month: April, 0.21 inches

• Windiest month: May. Average wind speed of 6.7 mph

• Average annual precipitation: 10.34 inches

• Record annual precipitation: 18.52 inches 1990

• Longest day of year: 21 hours, 49 minutes

• Shortest day of year: 3 hours, 43 minutes

* According to 2009 Census Bureau estimates.

** Based on 2008 presidential election results

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Tips trivia and fun facts about Fairbanks


  1. hi! so nice to meet you!!

    very informative tid bits about alaska, i think i would haul my own water too!!!

    have a great sunday!
    mountain mama

  2. Thanks for putting this together. I learned things I didn't know and found it very interesting.

  3. Fun post! Loved all the facts and your quips.

  4. Great post! I love moose and the other animals that you find in Alaska. Anyone that has lived here or in Canad know that you definitely need heating in Winnipeg It's so cold here during the winter.