By Ray Bonnell
FAIRBANKS - According to Pioneer Park records, cabin No. 4 in Gold Rush Town is the oldest building in Fairbanks. It was constructed in summer 1903 when Fairbanks was still a raw scar in the wilderness.
E.T. Barnette had established his trading post along the Chena River in 1901 and small amounts of gold were discovered in nearby creeks in 1902.
However, 1903 was the year several large gold discoveries turned the community into a bona fide boomtown.
Judge James Wickersham visited Fairbanks in April 1903 and described the “new metropolis of the Tanana River” as a tiny, rough settlement.
According to his book “Old Yukon,” at that time the community consisted of Barnette’s trading post, a half-finished two-story log hotel, two log-cabin saloons, a half-dozen smaller residential cabins and numerous tents.
Fairbanks mushroomed that summer. Lee “Ike” Loomis, who later established Loomis Armored Car Service, was one of the many stampeders building cabins.
Six years previously, he and his wife, Jennie, were operating a feed store in Seattle. Ron Inouye wrote in a 2000 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner article that when news of the Klondike gold strike reached Seattle in 1897, Ike quickly joined the throngs headed north.
Landing at Dyea, he earned money packing supplies over the mountains for other gold seekers. After the White Pass and Yukon Railroad was completed, he and two brothersin- law freighted livestock and supplies over the railroad to start a store in Dawson City.