Nenana: Tom Sawyer's Alaska

If you are driving south from Fairbanks toward Denali National Park or Anchorage, plan a short stop in the town of Nenana, about 60 miles along your way. It's a town out of a Mark Twain novel, a sleepy, dusty riverside barge stop left over from the past. Here President Warren Harding drove the golden spike on the Alaska Railroad in 1923; a monument with a depiction of the spike is on display outside the memory-stirring old depot museum, although the train hasn't stopped regularly in decades. On the waterfront, riverboats are still loaded with cargo for villages down the Tanana and Yukon rivers. That's also where you can see the Alfred Starr Nenana Cultural Center, with a little museum and Native craft shop, including some crafts by locals. The oldest building in town is the picturesque 1905 log cabin church on Front Street.

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