Alaska is the land of the igloo, a special structure one can make out of snow, and is designed to trap as much warmth around you as possible while keeping out the gusts of frigid winter air. But not all igloos are equal, as this picture so quickly tells us. This is a shot of the famous abandoned Igloo City Hotel, which stands in the middle of nowhere next to Highway 3 in Cantwell, Alaska.
Construction began in the seventies, but it couldn’t meet building codes. By now, too much of the hotel has deteriorated for it to be of any use with severe renovations. It’s a four-story structure that is so large that it can be seen by aircraft from thirty thousand feet. It used to be padlocked shut, but it’s fallen apart too much for it to make any difference.
There’s a Cat Who Is a Mayor
We’re hearing a whole lot about Talkeetna in this article, and here’s another fun piece of trivia – they had a cat as their mayor for twenty years. Stubbs the cat started being mayor only a few months after he was born, in July of 1997, and continued in the role until July of 2017, at which point he died (racking up ninety-seven cat years, apparently). Some opinion writers insisted that the entire story was false.
NPR even got in on the action, stating that the cat couldn’t have been elected as a write-in candidate since “the tiny town has no real mayor, so there was no election.” That sounds like the kind of no-fun attitude that NPR is famous for if you ask us. Just let the cat be the mayor. It’s not like he’s going to overspend on catnip.
The Last Train to Nowhere
Once, the people of Alaska had a dream. They wanted to build an extensive and prosperous rail system on the Seward Peninsula. Chicago backers were interested in linking the region’s major mining centers by rail. But as the gold rush faded, the project started to rack up debt. After five entire years of construction, the project had built only thirty-five miles of rail.
The project was abandoned in 1907, and not all of the equipment was picked up. Three rusty steam locomotives and a little bit of rolling stock are left stuck in the tundra of the Nome Census Area. It’s a popular attraction in the area, and there are both viewing platforms and signs that let people of many languages understand what they’re looking at.
The Old Mine Village in Kennecott
Considered one of the best remaining examples of early twentieth-century copper mining establishment, the Old Mine Village in Kennecott has been a National History Landmark since 1986. Spread across the hills of Kennecott, it features a number of historic exhibits. The General Manager’s office is the oldest building of the compound, and it’s where the bosses worked, now featuring panoramic photos hanging on the walls. There are also lots of letters and photos from secretary Nell Nicklas.
You can follow the tunnels, tramways, and trails of the mining operation on a scale model of the Bonanza Bridge. The most extensive collection of exhibits is found inside the General Store and Post Office, which is also where the short film “The Kennecott Mill” plays for visitors. There are also bear safety videos. It’s a big problem.
Whale Bone Arch
What do you find when you walk through this Whale Bone Arch in Barrow, Alaska? It’s a gateway to the Arctic Circle, so lots of snow. Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States as well as the northernmost in Alaska. Barrow was once called Ukpeagvik by the Inupiat who lived here, and whale hunting was a huge part of their lives: bones for boats and houses, skin for clothes, baleen (the fringed plates that hang inside whales’ mouths) for tools and art, and blubber for oil, as well as basically everything else they could think of.
Now, due to a much smaller whale population, the native people of the land are allowed to harvest twenty-four whales a year as part of their cultural heritage. This big bone arch is a symbol of the relationship between the area and the big sea creatures they came from.