Tom’s Tin Lizzie

Fairbanks has always had fun-loving residents. In the old days, many a man took great pride in putting one over on the rest of the town which is reflected in today’s History Nugget that happened 102 years ago:

Fairbanks Daily News Miner- May 18, 1916


Tom Gibson is as happy as a boy with new red-topped boots. Tom has no red-topped boots, but he has something just as boyish and just as good or bad, it’s a steamboat-railroad engine whistle which he has attached to his Ford auto truck, and which he seems to be running the truck only that he may play with that whistle.

Every morning, every afternoon, and every night, Tom fires up his little old Ford and starts out to ramble. Just as soon as he gets within sight of any living person he starts tuning up that whistle of his, and he grins and whistles and grins and whistles his way about the town until the whole camp thinks that a steamboat is coming or that the Tanana Valley railway train is just coming around the bend, and then Tom runs home and laughs. He doesn’t seem to have any business for the machine. He doesn’t seem to be looking for business or wanting any. He just appears to be out to keep that whistle going, and to fool somebody, or a lot of somebodies, into thinking that his Ford is a steamboat or railway train.

It’s lots of fun —for Tom.

Note: In addition to being known as a pioneer of gas-powered motorboats, Tom also ran a transportation company that provided service between Fairbanks and the towns of Valdez and Chitina along with stops along the Valdez Trail during the teens and twenties. Tom was also a very active member of Men’s Igloo No. 4. One of his old Model T cars that used to ferry passengers over the Valdez Trail is still in use today and can be seen on special occasions being driven around Fairbanks. It is owned by Bill and Joyce Chace who are also both members of the Fairbanks Pioneer Igloos.

So the next time you see that old rusty looking Model T car motoring down the street with “Gibson Auto Lines” in gold letters across the lower windshield, you will be looking at a real piece of  Fairbanks history and a couple of swell Pioneers too! This Tin Lizzie History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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