Activities and Tours
July is an excellent time to visit Fairbanks. After the dark winter, the sunlight returns and warmer temperatures make it a great time for outdoor activities. There is also variety of art, cultural, and performances that make Fairbanks unique.
Activities and tours for Polar Libraries Colloquy participants:
The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (Tuesday, July 12) is an industry-based nonprofit corporation created to facilitate the development, use, and testing of energy-efficient, durable, healthy, and cost-effective building technologies for people living in cold climates. Organization architects, engineers and researchers have worked closely with community partners in several rural Alaska communities to build energy-efficient, culturally appropriate homes.
Visit the Large Animal Research Station (Tuesday, July 12) for a tour and learn how muskox, caribou and reindeer make their home and thrive in the Far North. Naturalist tour guides enjoy sharing their backgrounds and expertise in the natural history of the farm’s animals.
Take a Behind-the-Scenes Tour @ UA Museum of the North, (Tuesday, July 12), the only research and teaching museum in Alaska. The museum’s research collection (1.4 million artifacts and specimens) represent millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of cultural traditions in the north. The collections are organized into 10 disciplines (archaeology, birds, documentary film, earth sciences, ethnology/history, fine arts, fishes/marine invertebrates, insects, mammals, and plants) and serve as a valuable resource for research on climate change, genetics, contaminants and other issues facing Alaska and the circumpolar North. The museum is also the premier repository for artifacts and specimens collected on public lands in Alaska and a leader in northern natural and cultural history research.
Meet a prominent Alaskan musher when you visit Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields (Thursday, July 14)
Dog mushing is very popular in Alaska. During July 2016, enjoy a personal visit with celebrated author/dog musher Mary Shields. Meet her adorable, waggly huskies and learn about 40 years of northern living, the Iditarod and mushing in Siberia.
Join the Binkley family as they share their 100+ year, five generation steamboating tradition on the Riverboat Discovery tour. Visit the Chena Indian Village for a walking tour, where you’ll see cabins made of spruce logs, a primitive spruce bark hut and meet guides who will explain the Athabascan way of life; see a bush pilot land and take off right next to the boat and visit the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher.
History of Fairbanks
Athabascan Indians were the first inhabitants of Interior Alaska, traditionally living in the area south of the Brooks Range down to the south-central coast near Anchorage, east to the Canadian border, and west to the regions inhabited by the Yup’ik and Iñupiaq peoples. Athabascans are the largest population of Native Americans and cover the largest geographic area, with linguistically related peoples living in California, Oregon, parts of the Southwest US, Canada, and Mexico.
Traditionally, they were nomadic hunters, fishers and gatherers, centered on large river systems. Many of these subsistence traditions are carried on today, with people returning to their home villages from cities and places outside of Alaska. The Athabascan people, like all Alaska Natives, were greatly impacted by the coming of Euro-Americans. Usually the incomers were attracted by Alaska’s natural resources such as fur, fish, whales, oil and—especially in the Interior—gold.
Fairbanks was founded in August, 1901 when Felix Pedro, a miner, and E.T. Barnette, a trade post operator, met on the banks of the Chena River. It was a fortuitous meeting—there were miners in the hills near the river that needed supplies and so Barnette’s trading post was established to outfit them. He convinced the miners and settlers to name the city after Charles Fairbanks, an Indiana senator and later Vice President of the United States. The town was incorporated in 1903. While mining is no longer the largest employer in Fairbanks (that’s the U.S. Government and the State of Alaska), its influence continues to be seen all over town.
There is so much to do in Fairbanks in the summer! The colloquy tours will just scratch the surface. We hope you will have the time to get out and explore.