Smythe Family On The Road travel blog

Jonathan in his Cub Scout uniform with the pack flag that he...

Sourdough Joe in Nenana.

The pole for the Nenana Ice Classic. This is last year's pole...

Jonathan rubs Sourdough Joe's head for good luck. See the gold nugget...

These buildings were for keeping your food up high away from the...

The Taku Chief.


Jonathan drops our tickets into the barrel in the Visitor Center. A...

The Visitor Center.

The Ulu Shop, moose antlers and souvenir shops across the street.

Jonathan stands on the scale in the train museum.

This room had all kinds of communication equipment in it. It also...

The Alaska train came across the bridge into Nenana around 5:35 today.

Here is where the tower and pole are set up along the...

The train comes through after switching cars several times. Tom and Jonathan...

The train is loud as it goes by. The penny gets smashed...

Watching the cars go by.

We walk over to the church to check it out.

A picture of Tom and Jonathan at the front door before we...

Jonathan tells Tom and I that he wants to be the pastor...









Wednesday, July 8, 2009.

McKinley RV Park & Hotel, Healy, Alaska

Seeing Nenana

We drove over by the Visitor Center when Tom was finished with work and looked around the area. They had a small store with several shops behind it. There was a working fish wheel on display and several moose antlers and wood carvings.

The Visitor Center had tickets for the Nenana Ice Classic for sale so we bought a few of those. The Ice Classic is one of the things Nenana is known for. Below is a little write up they put in a travel magazine for the area that will give you a good idea of when it began and what it's all about.

“The Nenana Ice Classic is a direct link to old-time Alaska. It began in 1917 when bored railroad workers whiled away the days of spring guessing when the ice would go out on the Tanana River and river traffic could start again. The Classic is now a statewide event. People all over the state guess when break-up will occur. These books keep track of the bets.”

They put a tripod out on the river then people buy tickets based on when they think the ice will go out. The pot gets up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You have to guess what day and time down to the minute you think it will happen. If you are right, then you and anyone else who guessed the same time split the pot. We looked at some of the past books in the museums. Sometimes there were as few as one name and sometime there were as many as one hundred and fifty names under one time of day.

We went down to the train museum and walked through it.

The train was due to come through town between 5:45 and 6:15 so we were able to see it. Nenana is the town where the serum was taken by train then transferred to the team of mushers to take it to Nome to save the lives of people who were suffering from diptheria. The Iditorod dog race commemorates this each year. The first paragraph of the article is below and gives a brief description of what took place.

The Iditarod is run each year to commemorate the emergency delivery in 1925 of diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska. Nome in 1925 had changed from a booming, boisterous turn-of-the-century gold-rush camp into a small, quiet town of about 1,500 people. It was fifteen years since the end of the gold-rush, but Nome remained an important settlement on the Seward Peninsula.

Go to to read the rest of the story!

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