Pioneers of Alaska Fairbanks

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About the Pioneers

How the Pioneers came to be

Alaska has a long, rich, and colorful history based in utilizing its resources. While there were small numbers of indigenous people and early explorers from Russia, the major influx of people to Alaska came just before, during and immediately after the Klondike Gold Rush between 1880 and 1900.


This stampede by tens of thousands of gold seekers from around the world to a vast, unsettled and ungoverned land lead to many hardships, much ingenuity and a dependence upon one another to survive. Often, miners organized themselves to handle the legal and social needs of the hastily formed communities in which they found themselves. Several fraternal organizations throughout the Klondike and Alaska were born as result. The Pioneers of Alaska were not the first of such organizations but it has achieved an amazing record of longevity.


The Pioneers of Alaska were first organized in Nome on February 14, 1907, with the mission:


To preserve the names of Alaska's pioneers on its rolls;

To collect and preserve the literature and incidents of Alaska's history;

And to promote the best interests of Alaska

The original charter of the Fairbanks Men's Igloo No. 4 sports a birch and moosehide frame.

The original charter of the Fairbanks Men's Igloo No. 4 sports a birch and moosehide frame.

THE FAIRBANKS IGLOOS

The Fairbanks Men's Igloo was chartered in 1910 and the first Fairbanks Women's Igloo was chartered in 1916. In 1976, the Igloo No. 4 Foundation was formed to assist both the Men's and Women's Igloos with their mission.


While as a whole, the Pioneers of Alaska have achieved much for our state and its citizens, the Fairbanks Igloos have many accomplishments of their own:


  • The Men's Igloo played a major role in the first ascent of Denali (Mt. McKinley) with the "Sourdough Expedition" in 1910.
  • Men's Igloo No. 4 owns the Felix Pedro Discovery Claim.
  • Both the Men's and Women's Igloos were key in the formation of Pioneer Park, the Pioneer Museum, and Golden Days celebrations.
  • Both the Men's Igloo No. 4 and Women's Igloo No. 8 erected the Prospector Monument in Pioneer Park dedicated to the gold prospectors of the Fairbanks Mining District.
  • Women's Igloo No. 8 operates the Kitty Hensley House Museum in Pioneer Park.


Active year-round, Fairbanks Pioneers are a vibrant part of the community and continue to participate in the following types of activities. If any of them sound interesting to you, why not join us?

HOW TO JOIN

If you love Alaska and her history and would like to help preserve the history of the community where you reside, we'd love for you to join our organization. To become a member, there are certain qualifications and procedures to be followed. 

What We Do

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Historical Preservation

Social Activities and Community Events

Historical Preservation

Fairbanks Pioneers were key in forming Pioneer Memorial Park, moving the Riverboat Nenana to the Park, and saving many historic cabins of early Fairbanks from decay. One of the cabins, the Kitty Hensley House, was renovated and furnished by the Pioneers to be used as a living museum and shop.


Pioneers built the Pioneer Hal, housing the Pioneer Museum and Big Stampede Show. Igloo No. 4 owns the original Felix Pedro Gold Discovery Claim on Pedro Creek and erected a monument to honor the discovery, which led to the gold rush that founded Fairbanks.


Other monuments and displays have either been contributed to or erected by the Pioneers to commemorate historic events and people in various locations throughout the state. Many are located within Pioneer Park. 

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Education

Social Activities and Community Events

Historical Preservation

Pioneers share the history of the Tanana Valley and Alaska in general by giving public presentations alone or in tandem with other organizations. Lectures are presented through UAF's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Summer Program, Pioneer winter socials, radio shows and other venues and special events as requested.


History Nuggets, a flashback to early newspaper articles, are posted weekly on this website in the Nuggets section.


ON THE RADIO


KFBX (970 AM) reads a History Nugget every Monday morning between 7 and 8 am. Not always the same one posted each Monday on the Pioneers' website.


KFAR's Problem Corner's host, David Pruhs (660 AM) regularly features Pioneers. On the 3rd Wednesday of each month between 11 am and 12 pm, Pioneer Nick Nugent reveals nuggets of history about Alaska and on the last Wednesday of each month, Pioneer Joan Skilbred discusses local historical topics.


All shows are recorded and are archived on the KFAR website.

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Social Activities and Community Events

Social Activities and Community Events

Social Activities and Community Events

There are many events and activities year-round for members and their guests. Some are open to the public as community events.


  • Officer Installations (P)
  • Regent’s Coronation (P)
  • Men’s & Women’s Roll Call dinners (M)
  • Annual Bocce Tournament (M)
  • Regents' Tea (P)
  • Felix Pedro Monument Rededication (P)
  • Golden Days Mug-Up (G)
  • Annual BBQ & Potluck (G)
  • Grand Igloo Convention, when hosted in Fairbanks (M)
  • Mid-month potluck dinner (G) & historical show (P) during winter months 
  • Christmas Dinner (G)
  • Summer Stampede (G), to various locations.


As a group, members participate in other events during the year such as the Annual 4K Charity Walk where the full entry fee goes to the charity of the entrant's choosing. Many of our Pioneers choose to support the Kitty Hensley House.

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Public Works

Senior Inclusion

Social Activities and Community Events

Every Spring, both the Men's and Women's Igloos work together to clean up the Pioneer sections of the historic Clay St. Cemetery and Birch Hill Cemetery. Work parties pick up trash, weed and generally tend the graves of our Pioneer ancestors.


Pioneers from around the state  "stampede" to various locations during the summer months. The excursions will often include a short clean-up of a local cemetery or historical site. Previous stampede locations include Chitina, Eagle, McCarthy, and Wiseman.

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Scholarships

Senior Inclusion

Senior Inclusion

Awarded annually  by the Igloo No. 4 Foundation to a descendant of Men's Igloo No. 4 or Women's Igloo No. 8. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at a University of Alaska facility for the Fall semester and have completed 12 or more credit hours of classes numbered 100 or above the previous Spring semester. There are additional requirements but if you have met the first three, you may want to consider applying.


The amount of the scholarship varies each year, depending upon the available funds.

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Senior Inclusion

Senior Inclusion

Senior Inclusion

The Pioneers have a long-standing tradition of providing support to the aged members of our community. Our members organize to provide rides, social activities, and general assistance to our elderly brothers and sisters.


The Igloos and Fairbanks Pioneer Home have combined activities throughout the year:

  • Women's coffee with the female Pioneer residents.
  • Men's coffee with the male Pioneer residents.
  • Monthly birthday party, Bingo, and shopping.
  • Mug-Up dinner.
  • Christmas tree decoration.
  • Christmas party.

How You Can Help

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program

Sign up for the FREE Community Rewards program at Fred Meyer. Link your Fred Meyer Rewards card to the Kitty Hensley House (non-profit number #84736). 


Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping Kitty Hensley House Museum earn a donation from Fred Meyer. There is no cost to you. You will still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points and Rebates, just as you do today.

AMAZONSMILE Rewards program

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program

Visit AmazonSmile at smile.amazon.com, search for and select "Kitty Hensley House" to receive donations before you begin shopping. Once selected, Amazon will remember your charity choice and a percentage of every eligible purchase will result in a donation. Thereafter, instead of shopping at amazon.com, do your shopping at smile.amazon.com


When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to the

Kitty Hensley House Museum at Pioneer Park.

VOLUNTEER

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program

BECOME A MEMBER

The Pioneers are always looking for volunteers to help out with numerous projects and to work short shifts in the Pioneer Museum and Kitty Hensley House Museum at Pioneer Park during the summer months. Several non-members enjoy spending time in the museums sharing Alaska's history with visitors. Dress the part in early 1900s garb  and welcome visitors from around the world. It's fun!


Whether you'd like to be a part of short work parties or be a museum docent, let us know. We want to hear from you!

BECOME A MEMBER

BECOME A BENEFACTOR

BECOME A MEMBER

You can become a part of something special by joining the Pioneers. Whether you are interested in historical research, working in a museum, helping our elderly Pioneers, or enjoying social events and participating in stampedes around the state, we have all kinds of projects and activities to keep you busy throughout the year. We do that and more, all while having a great time with folks who have similar interests.

BECOME A BENEFACTOR

BECOME A BENEFACTOR

BECOME A BENEFACTOR

Donations come in many forms. You can contribute money, objects pertaining to Alaska's history or items that will help the Pioneers live up to our mission. Contributions can be made to benefit the Pioneer Museum, Mens' or Womens' Igloos, Pioneer Foundation, or the Kitty Hensley House Museum.


Let us know what you have in mind and we'll get back to you as quickly as we can.

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Make a Difference

If you'd like to help the Pioneers with our mission to keep Alaska's history alive, you can make a difference by making a secure donation here. Every little bit counts and we thank you for showing us a little love.

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