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11 Lesser-Known Facts about Alaska

6. In the city of Barrow, Alaska, the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for 67 days in a row.

Sunrise in Alaska
Image credits: Pixabay

Unless you are a night owl, life in Barrow Alaska can get pretty challenging. The town was named “Atgiakvic” and Barrow experiences polar nights every year. The polar night occurs when the night lasts for more than twenty-four hours. In simple terms, the sun doesn’t move above the horizon. Barrow is located north of the Arctic Circle and regions north of the Arctic Circle experience polar nights every year.

This occurrence means that the town never sees the sun for 67 days each year. When the sun sets in November, the little remote village of more than 4,000 people is plunged into total darkness up until mid-January the following year. Polar nights have been proved to inflict psychological torture to the residents. Suicides and depressions are common during this time.

Owing to its location, Alaska is often known as the “top of the world.” Barrow is only accessible by plane. Residents store enough food during the sunny days to take them through the winter. Also, the strange and unique weather phenomenon in this town has attracted curious researchers who camp in the area to study. (12)

7. The sun in Alaska doesn’t set during summer. And for this reason, vegetables grow bigger. Alaska holds the 2012 Guinness World Record for the biggest cabbage of 138 lb.

Cabbage record
Image credits: Guinessworldrecords

After long polar nights comes sunny days, and to the farmers of Alaska, it means bigger vegetables. In 2012, Scott.A.Robb presented the biggest cabbage weighing 138 lb at the Alaska State Fair. He ultimately won the Guinness World Record for the biggest cabbage ever produced. In Alaska, you can also get oversized pumpkins and carrots. These vegetables are not only the biggest but also the sweetest. The sugar levels of these plants tend to be a bit higher during this period.

 The main reason for this unusual nature is that during the sunny days in Alaska, the plants get more than 20 hours of sun. This condition enables the plant to produce more plant material and grow bigger. Also, the extra amount of the sun makes the vegetable sweeter because of extended photosynthesis time. Additionally, Alaskans have a farmers’ fair called the “Alaska State Fair” where farmers compete for “giant vegetable” titles. (source)

8. Moose, caribou, and bears killed by cars in Alaska are considered the property of the state. When roadkills are reported, the carcasses are butchered by volunteers and distributed as food to charity organizations.

Moose on road
Image credits: Grand Teton/Flickr

People in Alaska know how to utilize their resources. A moose hit by a car on the road is never left to waste. Instead, it is picked by volunteers and distributed to charity organizations. The state of Alaska values game meat, and for this reason, the authorities have put in place measures that help in recovering roadkill. Anyone who spots roadkill is required to contact a state trooper who in turn will collect the carcass and hand it over to the needy. Each collected roadkill is adequately documented, and estimations show that over 800 moose die every year on the road.

If the health experts find the meat unfit for human consumption, which it is rare in Alaska, the wild game is fed to dogs. One of the reasons that contributes to this lifestyle among the Alaskans is the remoteness of the state. Sourcing for food can be quite challenging, and some parts of the region are inaccessible. (12)

9. A section of passenger railroad in Alaska is called the “Hurricane Turn.” Rather than making scheduled station stops, it operates as “flag-stop” meaning passengers in this remote area can wave the train down to stop. It’s one of the last real flag-stop trains in the U.S.

Hurricane Train
Image credits: Kolmkolm/Wikimedia

Here is another fascinating fact about Alaska and its people. Hurricane Turn is a train that operates between Talkeetna and Hurricane Gulch in Alaska. One exciting thing about this unique train is that the passengers can exit and board the train anywhere in between the two stations.

 Unlike other trains that do not stop until it gets to a station, Hurricane Turn can stop anywhere on the rails. The local Alaskans can stop the train by waving a piece of white cloth anywhere along the railway route, hence the name “flag-stop” train. (source)

10. Every resident of Alaska gets an annual “oil royalty check” – a payment representing their share of the revenue from Alaskan oil. In 2008. the payout reached a high of $2,069, or $8,276 for a family of four.

Royalty check
Image credits: Vimeo

If you thought Alaskans are only good at collecting and sharing a wild game, then think again. And if you want to get paid to live in a country, then maybe consider moving to Alaska. Every year, Alaskans get paid for being Alaskan citizens. Alaskan authorities under the Alaska Permanent Fund policy, pay its citizens with the proceeds from Alaskan oil. When the oil prices are high, the residents get a fatter check, and when the oil prices drop, they get less money. Every man, woman, and child living in the Alaskan receives a share of the revenues.

The money given to the Alaskans has helped raise the living standards of the people. On average, one person living in Alaska can get up to $2,000 per year or up to $8,000 per family of four per year. The program was started in 1976 by Governor Jay Hammond. He established the Alaska Permanent Fund where a certain percentage of oil revenue is put and invested in other projects that earn the government money. The local government then distributes the proceeds among the citizens. (12)

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11. Each year, Alaskans compete to be crowned the king or queen of their throne in the Fur Rondy Festival outhouse races. Teams outfit the bottoms of their custom-built outhouses with skis and race each other down a two-lane track. 

Fur Rondy Festival
Image credits: Jennifer Nalewicki/Smithsonianmag

Alaskans have one of the best ways to celebrate the end of winter and to welcome the spring season. The event starts in late February and lasts until early March every year. The festival is marked by over 100 sporting activities that bring the town of Anchorage to life. Some of the activities include the oldest race in the U.S. called the “Rondy Grand Prix.” Other activities include dog weight pulls, frostbite footrace, Miss Fur Rondy, and many others.

The most fascinating event is the outhouse races. The Alaskans of Anchorage demonstrate their running abilities while pulling their outhouses along. Also, a king and queen are selected to join the Fur Rondy Royalty. The king and queen represent the culture of Alaska. (12)

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