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Growing up in Alaska, I visited Fairbanks only a few times, but it always stands out in my memory. It’s definitely the coldest place I’ve ever been, and it turns out it’s one of the coldest cities in the U.S. – and that’s just of the Fairbanks facts to know.
I visited Fairbanks again in February 2020, and was surprised how much more there is to know about Alaska’s Golden Heart. Whether you’re planning a trip or just want to learn more about Fairbanks, read on for a number of facts and statistics that are sure to surprise you – and inspire a trip.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Tanana peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
History Facts about Fairbanks
Fairbanks is one of Alaska’s oldest cities, and has a number of interesting chapters in it history. From its founding to gold and oil, there are some fascinating Fairbanks history facts that make more sense of this city in the center of the Last Frontier.
- Fairbanks was founded on August 26, 1901, when riverboat captain E.T. Barnette established a trading post on the banks of the Chena River.
- Fairbanks was incorporated in November 1903; Barnette became Fairbanks’ first mayor.
- By 1911, Fairbanks was Alaska territory’s largest city, with a population of 3,500.
- Fairbanks flourished as thousands of people came in search of gold. Gold production in Fairbanks increased from $40,000 in 1903 to $6,000,000 in 1905.
- The construction of the Alaska Railroad in the 1902s brought heavy equipment north, including the supplies to build enormous gold dredges in the Fairbanks area.
- Large-scale gold dredging peaked in 1940 with 209,000 ounces of gold produced in the greater Fairbanks area. Today that’s worth almost $375 million.
- After the outbreak of World War II in Alaska, the federal government closed most gold-mining operations as unessential to the war effort.
- Gold is still commercially mined in two locations near Fairbanks: the Fort Knox Gold Mine and the Pogo Gold Mine.
- After oil was discovered on Alaska’s North Slope in 1968, Fairbanks saw another boom. As the closest city, Fairbanks was the supply point for the oil field and for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
Fairbanks Geography Facts
While almost every Alaska community has an interesting and relevant geography (hence where they’re located), Fairbanks is the largest city in its region of the state. Learn more about Fairbanks’ geography and why its located where it is – plus what natural wonders you can experience there.
- Fairbanks is located in Interior Alaska; it is the largest city in this part of the state.
- Fairbanks is located approximately 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle, on the banks of the Chena River.
- Fairbanks is located under the Auroral Oval, a ring where solar wind from the sun enters the earth’s atmosphere and creates the aurora borealis (northern lights).
- Because of its location under the Auroral Oval, the northern lights are visible in Fairbanks roughly 200 nights per year during the winter months.
- Fairbanks is halfway between New York City and Tokyo by plane. As a result, it was a popular stopover on some of history’s first round-the-world flights.
Facts about Life in Fairbanks
Like life across most of Alaska, Fairbanks is a fascinating place to live. Learn some Fairbanks facts about what it’s like to call this city home.
- Fairbanks has a population of roughly 32,000 people. Historically, it was the second-largest city in Alaska.
- In 2020, Juneau surpassed Fairbanks in population, making Fairbanks the third-largest city in Alaska.
- Nearly half of Fairbank’s population is made up of military personnel, due to nearby Eielson Air Force Base.
- Because of its geography, Fairbanks is a city with extreme temperatures. Fairbanks is also the only place in Alaska where a tornado has ever been recorded.
- The hottest temperature ever recorded in Fairbanks was 99°F in 1919. The coldest temperature ever was -66°F in 1934.
- On average, Fairbanks is one of the costest cities in the U.S. with average winter low temperatures from -15°F to -25°F.
- Because of the cold, cars in Fairbanks can freeze if they get too cold. To combat this, parking lots in Fairbanks offer electric outlets for plugging in vehicle engine block heaters so they will start in the frigid temps.
- On the winter solstice, December 21st, Fairbanks has 3 hours, 43 minutes of daylight. That obviously makes it the shortest day of the year!
- By the summer solstice on June 21st, Fairbanks experiences 21 hours and 49 minutes of daylight. Don’t forget your eye mask so you can catch some sleep even though the sun doesn’t set.
Other Curious Fairbanks Facts
When I researched this post, I found a few other Fairbanks facts that you might find interesting. Here they are, to round out the list so you know all the trivia night-worthy facts out there about Fairbanks.
- Fairbanks was named in honor of Senator (and Teddy Roosevelt’s future VP) Charles W. Fairbanks.
- The Fairbanks city motto is “Fairbanks, Alaska’s Golden Heart.” This was created by the Fairbanks Commercial Club.
- As already mentioned, aviation and the military are two major industries in Fairbanks. Alaska’s first commercial aircraft service began in June 1923, and by the early 1930s, there was one plane for every 60 people in Fairbanks.
- Did you know Fairbanks is near the North Pole? Okay, not exactly – but Fairbanks is near North Pole, Alaska. It’s a 20-minute drive to experience a town with candy cane light poles and Santa’s workshop.
Do you know any other facts about Fairbanks? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or join me in my Alaska Travel Tips Facebook Community!
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