Oh, The Places We’ll Eat: The Pump House – Fairbanks

Grab a seat at any one of the authentic wooden tables at Fairbanks’ Pump House Restaurant & Saloon, and you’ll take a leap back in time to the days of the famed Alaskan “Gold Rush.” 

Alaska’s Victorian era has been on display here, everywhere you look, since this old 1930s pumping station was rebuilt into a restaurant in 1978 with the goal of recreating a 1890s atmosphere. While at this cozy restaurant which sits on the banks of the Chena River, on the west side of town, it is difficult not to envision yourself as an old prospector nestled up to the bar after a long, cold day of panning for gold. 

The building, established by the Fairbanks Exploration Company, which was Alaska’s largest gold mining operator at the time, was abandoned in 1958. It has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The furnishings inside are authentic and very old, most being genuine antiques they say some are over 150 years old! One of these antiques is an original Brunswick “Union League” that was build in 1898. The mahogany bar was originally build in Kansas City, then shipped and reassembled. 

Atmosphere notwithstanding, the food and service at The Pump House are top-notch, which is why Backcountry Journeys is sure to make a stop here whenever we are in Fairbanks for our Ultimate Northern Lights tours. 

Alaskan King Crab, halibut, Alaskan salmon or Certified Angus beef – whatever your pleasure, The Pump House will deliver. They refer to their food service as “Alaskan Style,” which they say is a utilization of a combination of the freshest products possible with a unique culinary heritage. Some herbs are grown on site, or under a state wide sustainability program. The wine and beer lists are long, so you’ll never have trouble finding a great pairing. 

Speaking of drinks, the Senator Saloon, located inside the restaurant, has some notables as well. Here you can find the “The World’s Most Northern Oyster Bar,” with fresh oysters flown in by Alaskan Airlines.  

You’d probably guess that Backcountry Journeys doesn’t travel all the way to Fairbanks just for dinner. And, you’d be right! Fairbanks boasts the clearest night skies in Alaska and its prime location directly underneath the Auroral Oval makes it second to none as a destination for photographing the Northern Lights! Which is the REAL reason we travel here twice a year, in March and October when the Aurora is at its best.

Only a few coveted spots remain on our entire 2020 slate of tours to Fairbanks. Two spots remain for our March 15th to 21st tour, one spot is open on our March 22nd to 28th tour, and one spot remains on our Oct 11th to 17th tour. 

Don’t delay, book today to experience Fairbanks’ magical Northern Lights display – a must for your photo portfolio – as well as its rich history, and, of course, The Pumphouse. 

Kenton Krueger








Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Katmai, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, as well as internationally in Costa Rica & Brazil. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, and has had several of his writings and photographs published in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.


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