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Fairbanks, Alaska
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Before Fairbanks was founded, Koyukon Athabaskans lived, fished, and hunted along the shores of the Tanana River for thousands of years. The Tanana and other rivers also served as trade routes with other Athabaskans and Inuit.

In the early 1900s, prospectors from the Klondike spread out into various parts of Alaska in search of gold. In 1901 a trader named E. T. Barnette chartered the riverboat Lavelle Young to transport a large load of merchandise to the gold fields near Tanacross. He was forced to disembark near the present site of First Avenue and Cushman Street on the Chena River because the Chena was too shallow to follow further upstream and the Tanana River was impassable. There Barnette established the trading post "Barnette's Cache." A year later, gold was discovered 16 (25 km) miles north of the post. This brought an Italian immigrant, Felix Pedro (born Felice Pedroni), to the Tanana Valley. Outfitters, in turn, sought to make money selling supplies to the prospectors. The town grew as prospectors made their way to the gold fields via the Chena steamboat landing. Barnette, initially unhappy to find himself far from the proven gold fields, nonetheless stayed put when Pedro came to camp to trade. Within a few years, Fairbanks became the largest city in Alaska (Anchorage is larger now).

In 1903, territorial judge James Wickersham moved his offices of the Third Judicial District from Eagle to Fairbanks. That November, Fairbanks was incorporated as a city and named after popular Indiana senator Charles W. Fairbanks, soon to become Vice President under Teddy Roosevelt from 19051909. With the addition of the court, government offices, a jail, a post office, and the Northern Commercial Company, Barnette was elected mayor and set about to create a first-rate town replete with telephone service, fire protection, sanitation ordinances, electric lights and steam heat. Barnette also founded the Washington-Alaska Bank. By 1910, the official population had grown to 3,541, although more than 6,000 miners lived and worked their claims on creeks north of town.

The construction of the Richardson Highway in 1911, the Alaska Railroad in 1923, and the use of riverboats along the Tanana River established Fairbanks as a commercial center for interior Alaska.

The Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines opened its doors in College, near Fairbanks, in 1917. The school grew quickly, and in 1935 became the University of Alaska. The University of Alaska system has since expanded to include other campuses and the original campus is now called University of Alaska Fairbanks. During World War II two United States military bases, Ladd Field and Eielson Air Force Base, were constructed in the Fairbanks area (1938) to aid in sending aircraft and supplies to the USSR and the Russian-controlled Far East for the Lend-Lease program. During the Cold War Ladd Field became a U.S. Army base, Fort Wainwright. These bases brought additional jobs to the Fairbanks area and brought military personnel, some of whom stayed and became residents of the area after finishing their military service. Construction of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s combined to fuel growth and development. Many of the workers stayed at the Fairbanks Hotel, one of which was Paul E. Baker. The Fairbanks Hotel existed until its demolition in 2005.

Since its beginning, Fairbanks has been the commercial center for Interior Alaska. Fairbanks is now at the intersection of the Richardson Highway, the Alaska Railroad, the Steese Highway, the Elliott Highway and the George Parks Highway, completed in 1975. These connect it to Anchorage, Canada and the lower 48 states. The Dalton Highway, opened in 1974, connects Fairbanks to the industrial supply center of Deadhorse at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. Fairbanks area has an international airport, two military airports and many private airstrips. Goods are transported to and from Fairbanks by truck, air, and rail.

Fairbanks was the construction hub for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1975-1977.

Pioneer Park, originally built for the Alaska Purchase Centennial Celebration in 1967, contains museums, the riverboat Nenana, and many old buildings moved there from around the Fairbanks area. The Palace Theatre and Saloon in the park gives a musical presentation of the history of Fairbanks. Pioneer Park was formerly known as "Alaskaland" and many residents still refer to it by that name. - Wikipedia Article Fairbanks, Alaska

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