Nenana Ice Classic

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The Nenana Ice Classic is an annual ice pool contest held in Nenana, Alaska. It is a fundraising event in which individuals attempt to guess the exact time the Tanana River ice will break up at Nenana.[1] Tickets are on sale from February 1 through April 5 of each year throughout Alaska. The Nenana Ice Classic is a non-profit charitable gaming organization. As such, the proceeds benefit many volunteer and non-profit organizations.

The Tanana River with the tripod on the ice during the 2008 Nenana Ice Classic. The Mears Memorial Bridge is in the background.
Closeup of the tripod, sitting on dry land. This large striped wooden structure is placed on the frozen Tanana River each year.

History[edit]

The Ice Classic began as an ice betting pool in 1906 with six entries: Adolph Nelson, Jim Duke, Gunnysack Jack, Jonesy, Louis and Joe Johnson, and the first winner, Oliver Lee.[2] After coming the closest to betting on breakup of the Tanana ice, Lee won an equivalent amount of "a couple of rounds at the trading post bar."[2] The ice pool subsequently became inactive until 1916.[2] In that year, railroad workers revived the betting through ticket sales at Jimmy Duke's Roadhouse, but limited the betting to Nenana residents.[2] After word of the lottery spread to towns along the local railroad by Alaska Railroad Commission workers, the lottery was opened up to residents of the Alaska and Yukon territories in 1917.[2]

In 1917, railroad engineers bet $801 on when the ice would break. In 2009 the 93rd annual prize money was $283,723. In 2014 the jackpot was a record $363,627.[3] Since the Classic's beginning in 1906 over 10 million dollars in prize money has been given away.

The tripod[edit]

The "tripod", which actually has four supports, is planted on the river ice between the highway and railroad bridges in Nenana, 300 ft from the shore. The tripod is connected to a clock which stops as the ice goes out, moving the tripod with it. The Nenana Ice Classic annual festival is the time that the tripod is erected on the ice of the frozen Tanana River. The tripod parts are built and painted prior to the festival sourcing local timber and enlisting community members. Using a chainsaw, a trough is carved into the river ice which is usually around three feet thick at that time of year. The base of the tripod is lowered into the trough. An auger is implemented to bore a hole further into the ice until the river water is released, flooding the trough. This will freeze the tripod securely to the frozen river. As a high point during the festival the community gathers together and using ropes attached to the tripod uprights they work together to lift the uprights into place. The uprights are then secured to each other. A line is attached to the top of the tripod and once that end is anchored the other end is taken to the Ice Classic tower nearby on the banks of the river. Attached there to the clock inside the tower, when the ice goes out and moves the tripod 100 feet the line breaks and stops the clock. [3]

Ice measurements[edit]

The Tanana River at Nenana usually freezes between October and November, reaching an average peak thickness of 41 inches (104 cm) on April 1. The ice then melts on top due to weather and bottom due to water movement.



Ice measurements from 1989 through April 5, 2012 [4]

2012
Date Ice Thickness
12-Jan 23 Inches
6-Feb 33 Inches
20-Feb 33 Inches
4-Mar 34.5 Inches
12-Mar 35.7 Inches
19-Mar 37.7 inches
26-Mar 40.7 Inches
29-Mar 41.3 Inches
2-Apr 43.3 Inches
5-Apr 44.3 Inches
2011
Date Ice Thickness 8-Feb 38.3 Inches
24-Feb 40.75 Inches
6-Mar 45.3 Inches
11-Mar 41.5 Inches
16-Mar 39.66 Inches
24-Mar 42.0 Inches
31-Mar 41.5 Inches
4-Apr 39.9 Inches
15-Apr 42.5 Inches
18-Apr 41.6 Inches
21-Apr 41.4 Inches
25-Apr - Last Measurement for 2011
2010
Date Ice Thickness 3-Feb 44 Inches
18-Feb 50 Inches
7-Mar 47.0 Inches
17-Mar 51.5 Inches
24-Mar 51.25 Inches
31-Mar 50.4 Inches
5-Apr 46.3 Inches
8-Apr 45.3 Inches
12-Apr 44 Inches
15-Apr 45.2 Inches
19-Apr 40.9 Inches
2009
Date Ice Thickness 5-Feb 42.5 Inches
19-Feb 45.5 Inches
5-Mar 41.5 Inches
8-Mar 45.0 Inches
12-Mar 43.5 Inches
19-Mar 44 Inches
25-Mar 43.75 Inches
2-Apr 45.00 Inches
6-Apr 46.00 Inches
9-Apr 46.75 Inches
13-Apr 46.4 Inches
16-Apr 44.6 Inches
20-Apr 44.2 Inches
23-Apr 42.7 Inches
2008
Date Ice Thickness 11-Jan 38.8 Inches
21-Jan 44.0 Inches
15-Feb 41.0 Inches
1-Mar 51.0 Inches
10-Mar 44.5 Inches
17-Mar 46.3 Inches
20-Mar 47.5 Inches
24-Mar 46.0 Inches
28-Mar 54.5 Inches
31-Mar 47.5 Inches
3-Apr 45.6 Inches
7-Apr 44.3 Inches
11-Apr 45.6 Inches
14-Apr 44.3 Inches
17-Apr 44.6 Inches
21-Apr 40.5 Inches
2007
Date Ice Thickness 11-Jan 40.5 Inches
7-Feb 42.0 Inches
14-Feb 44.0 Inches
21-Feb 46.0 Inches
28-Feb 51.5 Inches
8-Mar 46.5 Inches
12-Mar 46.0 Inches
15-Mar 46.6 Inches
19-Mar 49.0 Inches
22-Mar 51.0 Inches
26-Mar 49.0 Inches
29-Mar 48.7 Inches
2-Apr 49.7 Inches
5-Apr 48.8 Inches
11-Apr 46.5 Inches
2006
Nenana Ice Classic

4-Jan || 43.0 Inches

31-Jan 38.0 Inches
9-Feb 35.0 Inches
15-Feb 38.0 Inches
23-Feb 36.0 Inches
2-Mar 45.0 Inches
6-Mar 42.0 Inches
9-Mar 34.0 Inches
13-Mar 32.0 Inches
16-Mar 32.5 Inches
20-Mar 34.5 Inches
23-Mar 34.3 Inches
27-Mar 34.0 Inches
30-Mar 34.5 Inches
2-Apr 32.7 Inches
2005
Nenana Ice Classic 14-Jan 29.0 Inches
8-Feb 35.0 Inches
17-Feb 40.5 Inches
24-Feb 40.0 Inches
3-Mar 42.0 Inches
10-Mar 33.5 Inches
14-Mar 37.0 Inches
17-Mar 42.0 Inches
21-Mar 36.3 Inches
24-Mar 37.0 Inches
28-Mar 36.0 Inches
31-Mar 36.0 Inches
4-Apr 32.0 Inches
7-Apr 35.5 Inches
12-Apr 40.0 Inches
15-Apr 40.0 Inches
19-Apr 35.3 Inches
21-Apr 35.5 Inches
2004
Nenana Ice Classic 7-Jan 21.5 Inches
4-Feb 30.00 Inches
11-Feb 35.0 Inches
18-Feb 36.5 Inches
25-Feb 37.5 Inches
3-Mar 25.0 Inches
9-Mar 28.0 Inches
15-Mar 33.0 Inches
18-Mar 33.5 Inches
22-Mar 34.5 Inches
25-Mar 34.7 Inches
29-Mar 35.0 Inches
1-Apr 35.5 Inches
2003
Nenana Ice Classic 13-Jan 30.0 Inches
27-Jan 41.0 Inches
10-Feb 40.0 Inches
24-Feb 43.7 Inches
2-Mar 43.7 Inches
9-Mar 45.8 Inches
17-Mar 48.2 Inches
23-Mar 47.5 Inches
26-Mar 48 Inches
31-Mar 47.5 Inches
2-Apr 48.2 Inches
6-Apr 51.0 Inches
9-Apr 47.3 Inches
13-Apr 47.6 Inches
16-Apr 45.6 Inches
22-Apr 38.3 Inches
2002
Nenana Ice Classic 14-Jan 42.0 Inches
28-Jan 43.5 Inches
14-Feb 47 Inches
3-Mar 51 Inches
12-Mar 51.5 Inches
17-Mar 51 Inches
20-Mar 50.5 Inches
24-Mar 50.8 Inches
27-Mar 49 Inches
31-Mar 48 Inches
3-Apr 48 Inches
7-Apr 48 Inches
11-Apr 48 Inches
14-Apr 48 Inches
17-Apr 45.5 Inches
21-Apr 47.3 Inches
25-Apr 44 Inches
29-Apr 42 Inches
2001
Nenana Ice Classic 16-Jan 34.5 Inches
6-Feb 37 Inches
11-Feb 33.3 Inches
19-Feb 33 Inches
25-Feb 44 Inches
4-Mar 42 Inches
11-Mar 41 Inches
18-Mar 37.3 Inches
22-Mar 40.3 Inches
26-Mar 38.7 Inches
29-Mar 39 Inches
2-Apr 39.3 Inches
6-Apr 38.3 Inches
12-Apr 36.3 Inches
16-Apr 33.5 Inches
2000
Nenana Ice Classic 23-Jan 31 Inches
13-Feb 31 Inches
20-Feb 33 Inches
27-Feb 33 Inches
5-Mar 35 Inches
12-Mar 36 Inches
16-Mar 35 Inches
19-Mar 32.6 Inches
23-Mar 35.6 Inches
30-Mar 36.7 Inches
2-Apr 32.7 Inches
4-Apr 37.7 Inches
9-Apr 35 Inches
13-Apr 36 Inches
1999
Nenana Ice Classic 14-Jan 34 Inches
12-Feb 43 Inches
17-Feb 45 Inches
24-Feb 43 Inches
1-Mar 44 Inches
8-Mar 44 Inches
11-Mar 45 Inches
15-Mar 47 Inches
18-Mar 46 Inches
22-Mar 48 Inches
25-Mar 47 Inches
29-Mar 43 Inches
1-Apr 44 Inches
5-Apr 46 Inches
8-Apr 47 Inches
12-Apr 45 Inches
15-Apr 43 Inches
1998
Nenana Ice Classic 22-Jan 41 Inches
5-Feb 45 Inches
18-Feb 43 Inches
25-Feb 38.5 Inches
4-Mar 38.5 Inches
8-Mar 46 Inches
11-Mar 46.5 Inches
18-Mar 42.3 Inches
25-Mar 42 Inches
30-Mar 34.5 Inches
1-Apr 34.3 Inches
3-Apr 38 Inches
1997
Nenana Ice Classic 20-Jan 31 Inches
4-Feb 46 Inches
19-Feb 46 Inches
25-Feb 46 Inches
4-Mar 44 Inches
11-Mar 44.5 Inches
18-Mar 44.5 Inches
1-Apr 43 Inches
4-Apr 42.5 Inches
28-Apr 36 Inches
1996
Nenana Ice Classic 10-Feb 41 Inches
23-Feb 44 Inches
28-Feb 46 Inches
6-Mar 46 Inches
12-Mar 44 Inches
19-Mar 45 Inches
25-Mar 46.5 Inches
27-Mar 45.5 Inches
1-Apr 46 Inches
4-Apr 45 Inches
8-Apr 45 Inches
16-Apr 45 Inches
19-Apr 43.7 Inches
22-Apr 41.5 Inches
1995
Nenana Ice Classic 27-Jan 23 Inches
8-Feb 24 Inches
17-Feb 24.5 Inches
20-Feb 25 Inches
28-Feb 29 Inches
6-Mar 28 Inches
15-Mar 34 Inches
23-Mar 32.5 Inches
28-Mar 34 Inches
31-Mar 34 Inches
7-Apr 34 Inches
11-Apr 33 Inches
13-Apr 32 Inches
1994
Nenana Ice Classic 20-Jan 36.0 Inches
4-Feb 43.0 Inches
17-Feb 47.5 Inches
24-Feb 51.0 Inches
3-Mar 51.0 Inches
13-Mar 52.0 Inches
24-Mar 52.0 Inches
28-Mar 55.0 Inches
31-Mar 58.0 Inches
3-Apr 51.0 Inches
8-Apr 54.0 Inches
14-Apr 57.5 Inches
18-Apr 52.0 Inches
22-Apr 5146.0 Inches
1993
Nenana Ice Classic 20-Feb 30 Inches
26-Feb 30 Inches
6-Mar 29 Inches
24-Mar 26 Inches
31-Mar 28 Inches
1-Apr 27 Inches
2-Apr 25 Inches
4-Apr 26 Inches
6-Apr 24 Inches
8-Apr 26 Inches
9-Apr 25 Inches
1992
Nenana Ice Classic 24-Feb 42 Inches
1-Mar 42 Inches
10-Mar 46 Inches
14-Mar 46 Inches
24-Mar 42 Inches
27-Mar 45 Inches
30-Mar 45 Inches
1-Apr 45 Inches
3-Apr 47 Inches
11-Apr 47 Inches
13-Apr 47 Inches
15-Apr 47 Inches
18-Apr 47 Inches
22-Apr 47 Inches
1991
Nenana Ice Classic 14-Feb 28 Inches
25-Feb 28 Inches
5-Mar 36 Inches
17-Mar 33 Inches
26-Mar 35 Inches
1-Apr 38 Inches
8-Apr 42 Inches
10-Apr 39.5 Inches
18-Apr 38 Inches
1990 Nenana Ice Classic
25-Feb 35 Inches
9-Mar 38 Inches
19-Mar 42 Inches
23-Mar 40 Inches
26-Mar 41 Inches
30-Mar 36 Inches
1989
Nenana Ice Classic 26-Feb 42 Inches
16-Mar 37.5 Inches
21-Mar 37.5 Inches
25-Mar 40.5 Inches
28-Mar 41.5 Inches
4-Apr 42 Inches
10-Apr 43 Inches
12-Apr 40 Inches

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tripod Days in Nenana set for this weekend". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sheila Toomey (April 20, 1997). "An Alaska Classic: Betting On Breakup Is More Than Just A Game Of Chance In Nenana". Anchorage Daily News. p. A1.
  3. ^ Official Website http://www.nenanaakiceclassic.com/
  4. ^ https://www.nenanaakiceclassic.com/ice.htm

External links[edit]