Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Nenana, Alaska: Tanana River
Why is this particular river so popular in Alaska in the winter? It has nothing to do with scenery, and everything to do with gambling.
The Nenana Ice Classic is held every year, which sounds like it should be a hockey tournament. A tripod is place on the frozen surface at the start of winter, and people bet on when the ice will thaw and the tripod will move. In 2014, for example, all that happened on April 25.
The prize is not spare change. The winner walked away with $343,627 last year. At $2.50 a guess, that's a lot of interest.
Nanama is mostly known for a long railroad bridge, the Mears Memorial Bridge. It is the longest bridge in Alaska, and was the longest railroad truss bridge in the world at one point. President Warren Harding drove the last golden spike into it in 1923. The bridge caused a brief boom in population, but eventually the numbers went back to where they were before - well under 1,000 - and have more or less stayed there.
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