As Interior Temperatures Rise All Eyes are on the Nenana Ice Classic Tripod

The Nenana Ice Classic tripod sits upon rotting ice as temperatures rise in the region. Image-Nenana Ice Classic

The Nenana Ice Classic tripod sits upon rotting ice as temperatures rise in the region. Image-Nenana Ice Classic

Officials for the Nenana Ice Classic report that there will be no further measurements made for the Alaska’s 100-year-old guessing game held each spring.

They report that the last measurement, taken on April 14th, was gauged at 32.3 inches, and say that because of the current condition of the ice, it was no longer safe to go out on the river to take measurements.

The organization also said on their site that “The forecast for this week is as follows; temperatures are supposed to be in the mid to upper 50’s during the day and staying above freezing in the evenings. If this forecast is correct, the ice will go very fast.”

The jackpot for this year’s lucky guess or guesses has yet to be determined, and tickets continue to be sorted. The Ice Classic organization states that the jackpot will be set on April 21st.

The betting pool that became the Ice Classic had its beginnings in 1906 when six people bet on the break-up of the Tanana ice. The first winner taking the pot in what would later become an annual event and springtime rite was Oliver Lee. The losers were Joe Johnson, Louis Johnson, Jonesy, Gunnysack Jack, Jim Duke and Adolph Nelson.

Bets were not made for another ten years in what what would become Alaska’s premier betting game. But, in 1916, Jimmy Duke’s Roadhouse began selling tickets to Nenana residents only.

By the next year, through word of mouth by railroad workers, the news of a annual bet on the ice spread throughout the north. In 1917, residents of the Alaska and Yukon territories could buy in on the event.

At times, the jackpot for the classic is awarded to single winners, but, generally the annual guessing game sports multiple winners. 

Last year, the tripod tripped, but remained in the same relative position for the majority of the week as players watched expectantly. When it finally moved the required distance downstream to trip the clock five days later, 28 contestants out of 294,000 guesses, split the $330,330 pot with each receiving $11,797.50.