hello how are you? there's a boat coming. sssh, wait

welcome to our little village. come sit by our fire and visit for a little while

Friday, February 26, 2010

river images from around, near, and far. what we see. maybe not every day but it's here and over there.

these are a few pictures of our tanana river.  Yukon river images also included, since we are all connected to this vast water network of travel, communication, and support. village and city, highway and railroad, white and native, young and old.  the weave of it's sloughs, hidden shotcuts, main channel, and lakes makes the cord binding all of us together that much stronger.
all river photos here courtesy doug sturm unless otherwise indicated.  all rights reserved.  the above is a shot from the upper end of McKinley crossing, a stretch of about 5 miles with 4 major crossings within.  one of the few places that mt. Denali can be seen from the tanana r. on a good day.  definately a tricky spot when there's a couple hundred tons in front of you especially in the fall time low water.  this water looks to be mid to late summer, normal level.

close to nenana this bridge sits on the northern approach to the main river crossing. named after a local woman who became a prominent community activist in nenana, fairbanks, and statewide.  my cousin shirley was taken by cancer before her time.  a much loved and respected native leader.

locally built by ted suckling this race boat, the annual nail, crewed by locals, wes and mary alexander, and yours truly.  won the 800 mile race from fairbanks to galena and return for 5 consecutive years 1990-95.  now on display in nenana's alfred starr cultural center.  was a local favorite making the 800 mile run in 12 hours.  this picture was taken just below nenana by the Fairbanks daily news miner.  on step and hitting about 60 mph  she needs at least 6 inches of water and a steady hand.  stock 50 hp maximum outboard motor hung on a 24', 250 lb. boat, it wants to fly, see air traps along the hull.  can be a tricky job keeping the bow down on turns and with wind gusts. it wants to leave the water.  village race boat construction up and down the river can be a passion. with the yukon 800 as the ultimate test for everyone's craftsmanship and ingenuity. it's a healthy friendly competition in the shop and on the river.

crowley marine is the largest  river freight operation on the river.  here is their flagship the MV tanana resting in dock, while it's 2-300 ton barges are  loaded for it's next trip down the tanana to the yukon.

the tanana with light load, mostly fuel,heading down to the yukon. 8 miles below nenana, one of the few places that denali can be seen from the river.

crowley's rampart.  returning to nenana empty, for another load.  appears to be in a stretch of the river just above squaw point, but it's hard to be certain from this shot.

this unknown tug and barge not ideally suited for interior river navigation is typical of numerous entrepreneurs who get it in their mind that they can come up here to our river system, take equipment best suited for other waters, and make their fortune.  a rude awakening awaits them as they see their dreams fade in the wake of heavy silt, underpowered motors, and confusing channels.  it takes a special breed and equipment to navigate these waters.  yet some still try.  nenana sits across from the base of the hill in the background.  heading up river very slowly, there is still another 25 miles to go.  probably took him 2 days to reach that hill.

the old tolovana road house 65 miles below nenana.  was part of the winter dog team mail route to nome.  this picture was taken before the roadhouse was restored by doug bowers and his wife.  mostly restored now, although such work is never done. the bowers take in guests and give tours of the surrounding area.  this roadhouse played an instrumental role in the 1925 diphtheria serum run to nome as a relay station for dog teams and their drivers.

old cabin about to be recycled. a place called trappers crossing, 20 miles or so above manley hot springs.

my old tug, the MV ramona, landing with a load at the lower end of tanana on the yukon river.  depending on water levels, each community has several slips making freight transfer easier.  two barges here, very light load just for tanana.  quick turn around then back to nenana for another load.  nenana --tanana--and return is 400 miles.  taking 4-5 days depending on water levels, weather, and turn around time.

new load for the ramona heading to village construction sites unknown.  point in the distance is 18 miles below tanana on the yukon.  looks like early fall from the color of the sky and island 

the new ramona in port prepared for a trip to galena. summer '09
 c. demientieff photo

early fall ice just staring to run near nenana, '09
c. demientieff photo

more '09 fall ice early in the run
c. demientieff photo

'09 fall beach.  looking up river from the dock to the railroad bridge
c. demientieff photo

one of our many neighbors the village of ruby on the yukon river from the wheel house of my boat, the miss behavin', 2005.  350 miles below nenana.
c.demientieff photos

that's it or now.   i will post more photos in a future blog called around town.  guess i better charge an extra camera battery and head to town, 5 miles from my home. I'll try not to embarrass any one.  but they will get self conscious as i record our village for you.  news travels fast here, and there are few secrets in our little village.  many will be watching, so will do it right and bring you images of daily life here as it's appropriate.


  1. My dad, Frank X. Wirth Jr. was a US Marshall in the Territory of Alaska in 1946 in Nenana, AK. He was married to my mother, Elizabeth B. (Waldron/Demientieff) Huhndorf and my sister Rita E. Wirth was born when they lived in Nenana. I was wondering if you have any historical articals on these facts. My dad, Frank Wirth, told me that he and Stanley Zaverl switched stations from Galena/Nulato to Nenana around this time.

  2. frank wirth is my cousin. we all live in alaska. know his sisters in montana, but no one up here. johnny-chambers@hotmail.com

  3. I'm currently in the process of acquiring my A/B card with the intentions of working for Crowley on the Yukon River.
    I found this quite interesting...thank you.


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