Rafting the Tanana, 1967: The trip that helped inspire the Great

posted Jul 8, 2008, 11:31 PM by Curt Madison

by Neal Brown
The Ester Republic, v. 10 n. 7, July 2008 (not yet published)

Although I can swim, I’m afraid of being in or on water, whether it’s  
in a river, a lake, or an ocean. Yet, in the spring of 1967, George  
Cresswell and I decided to build our own raft and float down the  
Tanana River from Fairbanks to Nenana.

Filming the First Great Tanana Raft Classic

posted Jul 8, 2008, 11:21 PM by Curt Madison   [ updated Jul 8, 2008, 11:28 PM ]

by Larry Sweet

The Ester Republic, v. 10 n. 5, May 2008

We were an expert film crew: after all, we'd spent many nights on  
Ester Dome with specialized, low-light level television cameras  
photographing the aurora, and many more in the field preparing to film  
rocket launches at Poker Flat. Were we not an excellent group to  
immortalize this great Alaskan sporting event? Well, er.

Recording for Posterity

posted Jul 8, 2008, 11:09 PM by Curt Madison

The Great Tanana Raft Race Classic Commemoration Committee announces the 40th Anniversary of the first running of the about 80-mile Classic between Fairbanks and Nenana. This "race" on homemade rafts supported by at least four 55 gallon barrels was run for four years beginning in 1969.  At the last race, proclaimed by Governor Egan as State Raft Race Day, there were over 450 rafts and thousands of participants and the first ten rafts to arrive in Nenana were disqualified for trying too hard.

Now on August 9 and 10, 2008 there will be several events to engage old (not so old) friends in two days of recalling and recording stories about the races.  There will be a Saturday recording session of your stories at a venue and time to be announced. This will be followed by a picnic on Saturday evening at 5:00 PM onward (BYOB)at the Chena Pump Road Wayside (the starting point for all the races) where some stories (all true) will be told and friends reunited.

On Sunday evening August 10th at about 6:00 PM we will board the Riverboat Discovery for a trip down the Chena during which we will display GTRC documents, many many photos, and project movies collected about the race. We also wish to hear other stories for the delight and contention of the crowd. We will also record these exaggerated and elaborated stories as they have been "improved"  over time. The Discovery trip on Sunday August 10 will be available to interested people and there is a contribution of $25.00 per person to cover the cost of the sternwheeler and snacks. There will be a no host bar open on the boat. Reserve (and pay for) your tickets early.  We are also seeking funds for some of the costs and for the printing of a book on the people involved in the race and the character! of the community at the time to be written by a historian. Many of the raft memorabilia will be donated to the University of Alaska Archives and the Oral History project.

For further information and to secure tickets call Merritt Helfferich at 479-2846 or Neal Brown at 479-2773.

GTRRC site launched

posted Jul 3, 2008, 9:28 AM by Curt Madison   [ updated Jul 3, 2008, 11:39 AM ]

Today the Great Tanana River Raft Classic website is launched. Try it out.

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