The Riverboat Nenana is a sternwheeler, nicknamed the “Queen of the Yukon.” She was commissioned by the Alaska Railroad and built in 1933. Her parts were made in Seattle and then shipped to Nenana, Alaska where she was constructed. She plied the Tanana and Yukon Rivers from 1933 to 1954, and her primary run was between Nenana and Marshall—a distance of about 858 miles. She also ran twice a month from May through September. The Riverboat Nenana was mainly a cargo ship, but she had sleeping accommodations for up to 50 passengers. She could hold up to 300 tons of cargo and push six barges on the Tanana. However, on the Yukon she only pushed one barge at a time because of the river’s curves and treacherous conditions. The Riverboat Nenana originally burned wood—roughly a cord of wood an hour—and there was storage for 230 cords of wood. In 1948, she switched to burning oil. The boat’s engines had the most advanced design of the time: twin, tandem 330-horsepower horizontal condensing engines. The engine could recycle approximately 85% of its steam into water, and the design allowed the boat to operate very quietly. The sternwheeler traveled approximately 17 mph downriver and 7 mph upriver. Her draft was 36” when empty, 44” when fully loaded. She is 237 feet long, has a width of 42 feet, and is 5 decks high, complete with flushing toilets and showers. The boat is currently undergoing restoration. The sternwheeler is the second largest wooden hull vessel in the world, and was named a National Historical Landmark in 1989.
The Riverboat Nenana houses the Park’s Visitor Center and a large diorama depicting life along the Tanana and Yukon Rivers.
And be aware - The Riverboat Nenana is rumored to be haunted.