Nenana to celebrate centennial of Interior Alaska Railroad

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The City of Nenana is abuzz with excitement as it prepares to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the completion of the Interior Alaska Railroad.

President Warren G. Harding drove the golden spike into the ground on July 15, 1923, to mark the completion of the railroad in Nenana.

Now, 100 years later, the city is gearing up for a grand celebration, including the grand opening of a new gazebo in town, purchased by the Alaska Railroad and donated to the City of Nenana for the occasion.

The celebration on Saturday will take place throughout the day in Nenana, with a block party, entertainment, food, and a reenactment of the driving of the golden spike.

The schedule for the festivities:

9 am – Opening of time capsule at Railroad Depot
10 am – Commemoration of first flight, whistle stop train arrives in Nenana
10:30 am – Unveiling of Mears bridge monument and Ralph Modjeski plaque
11 am – Lunch opens
11:15 am – Buses and special train arrive
12 noon – Ribbon cutting at gazebo

Ceremony
1:15 pm – Native drummers
1:20. pm – Greetings from Tribal Leadership
1:25 pm – National anthem
1:30 pm – ARRC Chair Shively welcomes guests
1:35 pm – Greetings from Mayor Verhagen, presenting miniature replica bridge gifted to President Harding
1:40 pm – Greetings from ARRC President Bill O’Leary
1:45 pm – Reading ARRC 100th plaque and reference to time capsule
1:47 pm – ARRC’s Mears bridge plaque reading
1:50 pm – ARRC Chair intro guest speakers
1:55 pm – Federal Delegation
2 pm – Gov. Mike Dunleavy
2:10 pm – Chair closing words
2:15 pm – AK state song
2:20 pm – Driving of golden spike reenactment 

2:45 pm – Eielson fly over 

3 pm – Board special train and buses

6:26 pm – whistle stop train leaves for Fairbanks

Worth noting, there will also be an Eielson Air Force Base flyover in the afternoon to commemorate the July 4, 1923 first flight in Alaska, accomplished by aviator Carl Ben Eielson, who flew in his airplane from Fairbanks to Nenana as a Fourth of July demonstration flight. His plane, “Jenny,” still hangs from the ceiling at Fairbanks International Airport.

The Alaska Railroad is one of the oldest institutions in the state, predating statehood by 36 years. The railroad has played a crucial role in the development of Alaska, connecting communities and towns and moving passengers and goods between Seward and Fairbanks in what has become known as “The Railbelt.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. In 1923 they were celebrating 100 year old technology. Now we celebrate 200 year old technology. Why don’t we have a big celebration over land line telephone service? After all, it’s antiquated, nostalgic technology. Oh, I forgot, it’s deregulated and no longer a government granted monopoly. And everybody knows how deregulation ruined the the 75 year old telephone technology.

    • Jay, screw technology. One realizes it’s limitations real quick when an under sea cable gets cut. Then it’s time to pull out the drums and light the fire for smoke signals. One cannot rely on Carrier Pigeons anymore either since the proliferation of Green Energy Windmills. I say Keep It Simple Stupid!

  2. Celebrate the US Constitution and the right to travel. The right to use the King’s Highway derives from the still intact Charter of Jamestown. The right to travel with one’s children and household goods using the Kings Highway in pursuit of adventure making it a public not private parcel forever.

  3. Also, did we not break up the scoundrel railroad monopolies within all the United States? DId that really and truly happen? Why? No one would be able to be elected to Congress otherwise. So what happened then? When did it happen? What enabling enactments replaced the railroad monopoly permitting laws? Did it affect all jurisdictions? Yes it did. Even in Alaska? Yes that federal railroad licensing law applies. That’s odd. I thought Alaska was a lawless last frontier of united morons. Do You mean it isn’t? How inclusive after all.

  4. There is still no more efficient and economical way to move mass tonnage over great distances inland than railroads. Yes, even after 200 years. Congratulations ARRC!

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