The sternwheeler Nenana was commissioned by the Alaska Railroad for service on the Yukon and Nenana Rivers. Built-in 1932 and launched in 1933. She ran the Tanana and Yukon Rivers from 1933 to 1954; She ran from May through September. In the early fall or poor weather when it was dark, a huge searchlight mounted on the steamship made forward progress possible.
The deck of the Nenana is 20,000 square feet. It measures 237 feet in length (the hull is 210 feet) and is 42 feet wide. The Nenana could carry up to 260 tons of cargo and could also push barges. There are 5 decks on the Nenana.
The Riverboat Nenana originally burned wood—roughly a cord of wood an hour—and there was storage for 230 cords of wood. In 1948, she switched to burning oil. The boat’s engines had the most advanced design of the time: twin, tandem 330-horsepower horizontal condensing engines.
In 1965 a channel was cut from the Chena river into the Pioneer Park; the sternwheeler was floated into the park which opened in 1967. The Fairbanks Historical Preservation Foundation embarked on a mission to restore the Nenana. In 1986, it took six years to fully restore the Sternwheeler. On July 12,1992 there was a dedication ceremony for the S.S Nenana at Pioneer Park.