Monday, 27 December 2010

A little bit of history on UAF campus

I had skied out to the outdoor rifle range on Rifle Range Road at UAF, as a group I'm with has been using it for some competitions. I'd asked one of them I was with what this blue building - decrepit, boarded and chained up, and littered with sheds and ATCOs.  It seemed like a strange building for the University to keep around.

After a while, I finally got around to asking some of the other people if they had any idea what it was, and one of the people who had been around Fairbanks a little longer said, "Oh, that's where they first heard Sputnik." Well, that's too interesting for me to just leave alone! I got what few details I could out of him at the time, and went home. After which, I did some digging around online. It turns out not only was Fairbanks the first place to hear Sputnik... but the first person to see it, to boot. And where and how did that person see them? Where else but on the outhouse:
As Davis reports in his book "Alaska Science Nuggets," Dexter Stegemeyer was the first Fairbanksan known to have seen Sputnik just clearing the western horizon, which was where it entered the view through his open outhouse doorway. Stegemeyer knew he'd seen something unusual, but only realized what it was after he heard a description of the satellite.)
That's from the GI's write up about hearing Sputnik, an Alaskan first. It's a great read, and barely tops a page. Definitely worth the read!

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