Founded on the banks of the Chena River in 1901, not far from the confluence with the Tanana River, Fairbanks is a classic river town. Steamboat traffic was heavy in the early days and steamboats were the only comfortable means of transportation for decades.
Today Fairbanks is a booming tourism city – northern lights can bee seen here frequently and the area is great for outdoor activity. Also, Fairbanks still gains from the gold industry featuring the largest gold mine of the US, the Ft. Know Gold Mine.
The main attraction for steamboat fans in Fairbanks is the S.S. Nenana, a historic paddlewheeler, now restored and serving as a land-based museum.
Though not a historic boat, the steamboat tourist might enjoy a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery III, a beautiful replica of a paddlewheeler.
The S.S. NENANA was launched at Nenana, Alaska, in May 1933, and operated on the Yukon and Chena Rivers as towboat, mainly carrying cargo, but also passengers until 1952. She became a museum as early as 1967 and is now part of the Alaskaland historical park at Fairbanks.
The Nenana is 237 ft. long, 43 ft. beam and once was rated 1,00 gross register tons. Like so many other paddlewheel steamboats the S.S. Nenana was built to serve as a packet boat, i.e. carrying passengers as well as freight and mail at the same time. The Nenana had accomodations fo 48 passengers, her freight capacity was 300 tons.