The only significant town encountered between Denali National Park and Fairbanks is Nenana (nee-na-nuh, like ‘banana’), which lies at the confluence of the Nenana and Tanana (tan-uh-naw, not like ‘banana’) Rivers. Though the big industry is barging freight downstream, for visitors and northerners the community is most famous for the Nenana Ice Classic, an eminently Alaskan game of chance in which prognosticators guess when the ice will break up on the Nenana River.
Historically, this was little more than a roadhouse until it was chosen as the base for building the northern portion of the Alaska Railroad in 1916. On July 15, 1923, President Warren G Harding arrived to hammer in a golden spike on the northern side of the Tanana. The sickly Harding missed the spike the first two times, or so the story goes, but finally drove it in to complete the railroad.