Father with young kids tours the exhibits at Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center.

Antler Arch is Gateway to Downtown Fairbanks

The World’s “Farthest North Antler Arch” has been installed just north of the Center along the Chena River. The arch is made up of over 100 antlers that have been collected from all over Interior Alaska. Ten antlers came from the village of Huslia. Richard Carroll collected 15 antlers from Ft. Yukon. Additional antlers are from Fairbanks, North Pole, Dot Lake, the Minto Flats, Tok, Koyukuk, Delta, Northway and the Tanana Flats. One of the largest sets came from Shawn Gover, a young boy from Nikolai who got the moose antlers on his first hunt.

A goal of the arch is to bring attention to the bike and walking paths along the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, and to encourage people to make the short four-minute walk between the Morris Thompson Center and the Golden Heart Park. “It’s certainly going to be a tourist attraction. You can tell that already by the number of people who came by and took pictures as we were building it,” said Sandy Jamieson, local artist and cabin-builder who oversaw the installation of the antlers. “I always like seeing an antler or a skull out in nature. Some nice vines growing throughout the antlers in the summer would invoke the common experience of being out in the woods and connecting with nature.”

Originally the arch was planned to span the entrance to the Center’s historic cabin, but as work progressed, it became apparent the large arch would overpower the little cabin. We held the idea in our back pocket, hoping it might resurface somewhere else on the grounds. Then, when we began work with the Downtown Association to link the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center to 2nd Avenue, the arch became the perfect “Gateway.”

The total cost of the arch is approximately $25,000. The bulk of the cost, approximately $20,000 is for construction of the two concrete columns which form the base and the steel beam that will hold the antlers. Because the arch is in a public park, liability issues arose which required the involvement of engineers in planning and construction, and for digging deep concrete pilings to ensure arch stability. GHEMM Company Project Manager Mike Davis said, “This arch isn’t going anywhere!” The remaining $5,000 covers the purchase of antlers, installation, and a sign that will recognize the individuals and communities that donated the antlers.

We thank the many hunters who supplied the antlers, as well as Wrights Air and Everts Air Cargo for generously donating back-haul of antlers from the villages all over Interior Alaska.