- Associated Press - Thursday, April 26, 2018

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough said it has no plans to demolish a historic but deteriorating 85-year-old Alaska riverboat that sits in the middle of Pioneer Park.

The borough issued the statement in response to a Facebook post that erroneously said the SS Nenana would be demolished, the Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.

The Nenana is the largest steam-powered wooden sternwheeler ever built west of the Mississippi River, the Daily News-Miner reported.

The boat was closed to tours for the coming summer season after an engineering report detailed its decay. A canal was built to house the boat at the park in 1967, making it a flagship attraction to celebrate the centennial of the U.S. purchase of Alaska.

Mayor Karl Kassel said he has no immediate plans for what to do with the 237-foot-long (72-meter-long) boat, which is a national historic landmark.

“We don’t have the money to fix it in the budget,” Kassel said. “The next mayor will need to decide what to do long term.”

Pioneer Park manager Donnie Hayes said efforts are underway to find a home for the extensive dioramas inside the boat depicting life along the Tanana and Yukon rivers.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and decisions to be made,” Hayes said. “The dioramas and the Nenana are an important part of Pioneer Park and Fairbanks history.”

It launched in 1933, according to a report by PDC Engineers.

The Alaska Railroad commissioned the Riverboat Nenana for service on the Yukon, Nenana and Tanana rivers. It could carry up to 300 tons (272 metric tons) of freight and carried military cargo during World War II, including lend-lease aircraft en route to Russia.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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