Alaska: Soggy Centennial

In 1901, Captain E. T. Barnette pushed a cargo-laden stern-wheeler ten miles up central Alaska's Chena River, halted when the waters became too shallow, and established a trading post from which, with the gold rush one year later, sprang the city of Fairbanks. Barnette should have settled on higher ground.

Last week, after a five-day rainfall that saturated the so-called "Golden Heart of Alaska" with more than six inches of rain, the 200-ft.-wide Chena spilled disastrously over its banks and deluged Fairbanks. Floodwaters swirled through the state's second largest city at depths...

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