Pioneer Park (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Pioneer Park is a 44-acre (109-ha) city park in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States, run by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Department of Parks and Recreation. It was opened in 1967 as Alaska 67 Centennial Exposition to celebrate the centennial of the Alaska Purchase. After being given first to the state and then to the city, Mayor Red Boucher renamed the site Alaskaland. It was then changed to its present name in 2001 out of concern that the park could be mistaken for being primarily a theme park. The subject is still a topic of slight contention with locals.
There is no admission fee to enter the park, though many of the museums and attractions do charge an entrance fee. Concessions are open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, though the park is open year round and some events are held in the off-season. Free wi-fi is available.
The park commemorates early Alaskan history, and includes:
- "Gold Rush Town" – 35 restored buildings from early Fairbanks, including the first church in Fairbanks and a house owned by Judge James D. Wickersham. Most now house gift shops and other merchants.
- SS Nenana – a sternwheeler that carried passengers and cargo on the Chena River from 1933 to 1954. At 230 feet (70 m) it is the second-longest wooden-hulled ship still in existence. Now a museum.
- Denali Observation car ("Harding Car") – the rail car used by President Warren G. Harding during a visit to Alaska in 1923 to formally complete the Alaska Railroad.
- Replica Alaska Native village featuring artifacts
- Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts – theater, art gallery, and meeting hall
- Pioneer Hall – designed to resemble an early-20th-century meeting hall. Includes the Pioneer Museum, which features Gold Rush memorabilia and the "Big Stampede" mural presentation
- Pioneer Air Museum – aviation memorabilia and 14 aircraft; begun through the efforts of aviation historian Randy Acord
- Crooked Creek & Whiskey Island Railroad – operating 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad which circumnavigates the park
- Tanana Valley Railroad Museum – features the restored, 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge 1899 TVRR Engine No. 1, the oldest working steam locomotive in Alaska and still operated on occasion by volunteers
- Mining Valley – contains working replica of a gold rush-era sluice gate
- Replica of the wheelhouse of SS Lavelle Young, the steamer used by Fairbanks founder E.T. Barnette to reach the site of the settlement
- Mini Golf Fairbanks – America's northernmost 36 hole Mini Golf Course
- Fairbanks Arts Association - a non-profit organization set up to promote excellence in contemporary and traditional arts in Interior Alaska.
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