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Hackenmiller had started working at The Boatel Bar right as the Fairbanks bar scene, and the city in general, was about to blow up. Bush left the contiguous 48 and infiltrated the sleepy permafrost town to build the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. And with temperatures often below zero, everyone eventually needed a drink.

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Fairbanks quickly became a kind of Deadwood for the disco era, a lawless, dipsomaniacal zoo set miles south of the Arctic Circle. The two main employers were the Bechtel Corporation and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, a consortium of eight major oil companies, both of which would throw money at any welder, plumber or pipe-fitter who could help quickly get the job done. The eventual goal — of extracting 10 billion barrels of crude oil from underneath this frozen tundra — was a tall one. Soon, the city of only 38, added 30, out-of-towners looking to make a quick fortune.

That usually meant hitting up bars like The Boatel, a formerly peaceful little dive which offered a fireplace and outside deck overlooking the Chena River.

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It became a tradition, and Fairbanks bars eventually had to buy more glassware just to keep up with all this freewheeling spenders. It helped that Fairbanks offered 22 hours of sunlight a day, creating a bit of a casino effect where no one was ever tired and everyone was always raring to go, despite the painfully frigid temperatures. There were places like Mecca Bar, sister bar of the original location in Kodiak.

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The downstairs had originally been a sports bar, but by the time of the pipeline it had become the Tiki Cove, a spot that became extremely popular. A few doors down from Mecca was the Cottage Bar. As Hackenmiller said, you really just had to be open to attract customers. No pipeline workers wanted to go back to their shabby rooms, which were often tiny and usually lined with aluminum sheets painted to simulate wood.

Some pipeline workers claimed to have been drugged and robbed by the streetwalkers. Yes, by the summer ofthe prostitutes had also arrived, and watching them became a spectator sport for locals.

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There were pimps on Two Street too, usually skinny and African-American, and driving brand-new Cadillacs they had somehow brought to town from the continental U. They were thus forced to get more aggressive, sometimes jumping into cars at stoplights hoping to land a date. By it employed an exclusively female bartending crew, which might have helped lure in a year-old George W. Bush, who was living in Fairbanks that summer while working a desk job with a CIA-affiliated construction company.

Van Hoomissen of Superior Court. But criminal justice is not breaking down.

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Carnahan, a well-liked policeman of the time. And, then, just like that, it was over. It would plummet even more the following year. And so had the free-spending welders. By Alaskan unemployment was at 18 percent, the highest in the nation. His customers had always been mostly Native-American men, with a few working-class white Alaskans a on the door specifically instructed prostitutes to stay out.

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Nevertheless, those rowdy four years had made an indelible change to the community in general, which many people believe is still felt today, though no one agrees whether it was ultimately a good or bad thing. Like on the radio. If during the pipeline era, downtown was home to dozens of bars, almost immediately after the out-of-towners left, they started disappearing. A statewide recession hit Alaska in the s and then all businesses started to drift away. The Big-I is still around, and so is Boatel, but Mecca Bar is the only one of the famously rowdy Two Street bars still standing from its glory days, invoking memories that some people will always hope to recreate.


Or as that laborer put it, the next billion-dollar roller coaster ride. This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. up now. And awesome. Popular at InsideHook.

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Chicago Los Angeles New York. San Francisco Washington DC. Subscribe Follow Us facebook instagram pinterest twitter linkedin. In the bars of Fairbanks in the s, the Wild West was still alive and well. By Aaron Goldfarb aarongoldfarb. More Like This. Recommended Suggested for you.

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