Fairbanks Gold Rush Town Walking Tour

Walk through a series of historical buildings, some now occupied by shops and restaurants

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Walking Tour Points

Cab­in #13 is a repli­ca of a cab­in which is believed to have been part of the orig­i­nal home­stead owned by Dr. Young, one of the first dairy farm­ers in Fair­banks. At that time, it was a five-room cab­in, but it burned down some­time before 1942. Today, Cab­in #13 is spon­sored by the Fair­banks Arts Asso­ci­a­tion, and is a coop­er­a­tive for 10 local artists.

Clara Rust’s book This Old House (writ­ten by Jo Anne Wold), recalls that Kather­ine Kit­ty” Hens­ley and her daugh­ter Hazel lived as reclus­es in a tarpa­per shack off 8th Avenue in the ear­ly days of Fair­banks Avenue. In 1914, Kitty’s friend Cap­tain Smythe, a retired river­boat cap­tain with excel­lent car­pen­try skills, remod­eled the cab­in using lum­ber from his stern­wheel­er that had been dam­aged dur­ing spring break-up. Capt. Cap” Smythe built the…  ...more

Cab­ins #9 and #10 were built in 1948 by Jess Moriner, and were used as motel cab­ins near a tiny ser­vice sta­tion south of Fair­banks in the Big Bend area. Today, they are occu­pied by Bush Babies & Co., fea­tur­ing Native Amer­i­can Folk Art and unique gifts for the Alaskan Bush.

Cab­in #8 was built in 1908. It is believed that, in the ear­ly 1930’s, it was pur­chased by a pio­neer min­er named Nick Nagen­gast who had trav­eled to Alas­ka with Elam Arnish, the hero of Jack London’s book, Burn­ing Day­light. Today, the cab­in is home to Charms by C.J., a retail jew­el­ry store sell­ing unique designs of glass semi-pre­cious stones and more.

Cab­in #7 was owned by Fair­banks’ first vet­eri­nar­i­an Doc Stearns. Doc was a beard­ed, aris­to­crat­ic-look­ing gen­tle­man whose con­stant com­pan­ion was a small cock­er spaniel. Doc had a pass to all movies in town and nev­er missed one — with his cock­er spaniel by his side. He lat­er oper­at­ed a small farm on Tim­ber­line Drive.

Pres­by­te­ri­ans were the first to bring church life to Fair­banks, and the white church at Pio­neer Park was the first church built in the Inte­ri­or of Alas­ka. It was con­struct­ed in 1904, on the cor­ner of 7th and Cush­man Streets. A mis­sion­ary to Ram­part, Alas­ka, Dr. M.E. Krouse, gave ser­mons when he came to the new gold min­ing camp of Fair­banks back in 1902-03. The first ser­vices are said to have been held in Marston’s Saloon on 1st Avenue. The…  ...more

The Wick­er­sham House was the home of one of Alaska’s first and best known polit­i­cal fig­ures Judge James Wick­er­sham. Judge Wick­er­sham was the first Fed­er­al Judge in the Inte­ri­or of Alas­ka. His juris­dic­tion ranged over 300,000 square miles. It was James Wick­er­sham who promised polit­i­cal help to the town’s founder E.T. Bar­nette if he would name the new com­mu­ni­ty on the Chena Riv­er Fair­banks” after his friend Sen­a­tor Charles W. Fair­banks of…  ...more

Cab­in #22 was the bunkhouse for dri­vers of Ed Orr’s Stage­line which oper­at­ed between Fair­banks and Valdez, 360 miles south of Fair­banks. Lat­er it was the hos­pi­tal­i­ty cen­ter of Eva McGowan, the Host­ess of Fairbanks.” 

Cab­in #16 was owned by Skag­way Jim in the ear­ly 1900’s and today is occu­pied by Bul­go­gi House, a restau­rant serv­ing Kore­an food.

Cab­in #6 was orig­i­nal­ly a Pros­ti­tutes Crib that was locat­ed on 4th Avenue. Pros­ti­tu­tion was tol­er­at­ed in Fair­banks as long as two con­di­tions were met: a tax was paid, and the activ­i­ty was kept from the view of decent towns­peo­ple.” A high-board fence was con­struct­ed to keep the hous­es of ill-repute from view. The fence was referred to as the Line” or the Row.” The girls did their shop­ping at night or had their goods deliv­ered to them, also…  ...more

Cab­in #4 was built in 1903 by the founder of Loomis Secu­ri­ty, L.B. Loomis. It was orig­i­nal­ly locat­ed on Kel­lum Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Oth­er own­ers includ­ed Louis Gold­en and Paul Pal­fy. Today, Cab­in #4 is occu­pied by Wild Inte­ri­or, a retail store sell­ing unique­ly hand-dyed and Alas­ka-themed apparel.

Cab­in #3 was used to intro­duce Robert Service’s lit­er­ary works to the Fair­banks com­mu­ni­ty. It was orig­i­nal­ly locat­ed at the 1400 block of 2nd Avenue and Bad­ger Road, and owned by Lawrence Olson who willed it to Carl Erik­son. This cab­in is cur­rent­ly occu­pied by 40 Below Fair­banks, a one-of-a-kind expe­ri­ence, with a ‑40 degree Fahren­heit cham­ber. It is a unique adven­ture giv­ing you a real taste of Fair­banks’ cold win­ters. This venue is a…  ...more

What is now known as the Palace The­atre was, at the turn of the cen­tu­ry, Golden’s Gro­cery Store. In lat­er years, it was home to Palfy’s Sheet Met­al Shop. After the build­ing was moved to Pio­neer Park, the build­ing became known as the Palace Saloon. As the years pro­gressed, its name evolved into the Palace The­atre and Saloon. In 2005, the estab­lish­ment dis­con­tin­ued serv­ing liquor, and the name final­ly became the Palace The­atre. The Palace…  ...more

Cab­in #69 is anoth­er his­tor­i­cal piece that seems to have mis­placed its mem­o­ry. We know very lit­tle about the past of this quaint Alaskan abode. Today, how­ev­er, Cab­in #20 is occu­pied by Grizzly’s Tent Camp Food. Stop in for burg­ers, fries, and oth­er all-Amer­i­can food.

Cab­in #22 belonged to E.H. Mack who was involved in real estate, and was a home­stead­er along Col­lege Road. 

Cab­in #2 was con­struct­ed in 1906 as the Palace Hotel and Bath House, and was orig­i­nal­ly locat­ed at 194 4th Avenue near Cush­man Street. On the first floor, tub baths were avail­able for fifty cents. Upstairs were the sleep­ing quar­ters. Hotels in the ear­ly days were often dor­mi­to­ry-style, with the entire upper sto­ry devot­ed to bunks, sep­a­rat­ed by cloth cur­tains for pri­va­cy. The build­ing is an excel­lent exam­ple of the logs struc­tures built for the…  ...more

Cab­in #25 was owned by Harold R. Allen and was orig­i­nal­ly locat­ed at six mile Richard­son High­way. Today, Cab­in #25 is occu­pied by Sou­vla­ki, a restau­rant serv­ing Mediter­ranean food.

Cab­in #31 was orig­i­nal­ly the home of Har­ry Karstan, a Park Ranger and Super­in­ten­dent of Denali Nation­al Park. Karstan came to the Klondike in 1897 at age 17. He earned his trip by back­pack­ing sup­plies for min­ers over the Chilkoot Pass. Karstan made the first suc­cess­ful, doc­u­ment­ed climb of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley). Today, this sto­ried cab­in is occu­pied by Just Orig­i­nals, a retail­er of unique Alaskan items and gifts.

Pio­neer Hall was designed to rep­re­sent a fine 1900’s era build­ing. It hous­es two his­tor­i­cal attrac­tions: The Pio­neer Muse­um which is filled with fas­ci­nat­ing arti­facts of ear­ly Fair­banks. The set­tlers of Fair­banks prob­a­bly would have been sur­prised if they had known their every­day uten­sils would one day be on dis­play in a muse­um. Few of the museum’s pieces are a hun­dred years old. Not very old by most muse­um stan­dards, but their val­ue is…  ...more

Cab­in #31 was orig­i­nal­ly the Torg­er­son Shed” locat­ed at 2nd Avenue and Cleary Street. Today, it is home to Betsy’s Old-time Pho­tos where vis­i­tors dress in peri­od cos­tume for fun pho­to opportunities.

Cab­in #26 is thought to have been a black­smith shop.

The Lavelle Wheel­house is the orig­i­nal, restored wheel­house of the Lavelle Young, the boat that brought E.T. Bar­nette the founder of Fair­banks up the Chena Riv­er. It was aban­doned in McGrath, Alas­ka in 1920, and brought to Fair­banks in pieces in 1972. The orig­i­nal steer­ing wheel is now on dis­play in the Pio­neer Museum.

Cab­in #64 was built in 1965 as the office for North­land Wood when the sawmill was locat­ed on Col­lege Road.

Cab­in #14 is one of the ear­li­est cab­ins built in Fair­banks, built before 1904 by two Finns at 159 2nd Avenue. The orig­i­nal mud chink­ing is vis­i­ble between the worm-eat­en logs. The adja­cent cab­in on stilts is a cache, used for stor­ing food. Today, Cab­in #14 is used by the Fair­banks Arts Asso­ci­a­tion to store equip­ment and sup­plies for Gaze­bo Nights.

Cab­in #19 was once known as the Geor­gia Lee House. In the 1920’s, dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the Alas­ka Rail­road, it was a house of ill repute” in the town of Nenana, 60 miles south of Fair­banks. In 1928, the build­ing was cut into sec­tions, barged to Fair­banks, and placed at 829 4th Avenue. Today, Cab­in #19 hous­es the Pio­neer Park Office.

Very lit­tle infor­ma­tion about cab­in #66 has sur­vived, but there are plen­ty of rumors that it is haunt­ed. Despite its unknown past, Cab­in #66 is mak­ing a name for itself as the new head­quar­ters for the Fair­banks 2014 Arc­tic Win­ter Games Host Soci­ety. In March of 2014, 2000 youth from 9 inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ties across the cir­cum­po­lar North will arrive in Fair­banks to share their cul­ture with our com­mu­ni­ty and com­pete in one of 20 sports.  ...more

Cab­in #20 was the Saw Shop locat­ed at 2nd Avenue and State Street. It was owned by Bill Sher­win, who came to Alas­ka in 1898, at 21 years old, to try his luck at gold min­ing. Not find­ing his for­tune in gold, he took up wood cut­ting in Fairbanks.