Our 50th state is full of people who know how to get things done. I heard the legend of one determined community on our recent vacation.
Ferry, Alaska is a remote community, population 32 (11 households). It has the dubious distinction of being located across both banks of the Nenana River. Until recently, only a railroad bridge connected the two halves; the nearest vehicular bridge required a 20-mile detour.
Being neighborly but a tad impatient, folks in Ferry figured out how to cross the railroad bridge in their trucks, SUV’s and ATVs.
Much to the dismay of the Ferry residents, the railroad, for safety concerns, determined that these crossings must stop. The railroad posted a large No Trespassing sign at the bridge, securely fastened to a wooden post with a dozen large screws.
The next morning, railroad officials discovered the sign laying on the ground with this cheerful note. “Thank you for the screws; we will put them to good use.” Signed, Citizens of Ferry.
Not to be deterred, the railroad next spread spikes on the bridge. The spikes wouldn’t damage trains, but they would raise havoc with rubber tires. Ferry’s response? The citizens put wooden planks over the spikes and kept crossing the bridge.
This got the railroad worked into quite a lather, so it approached the problem with more serious clout. It recruited Alaska’s government to impose significant fines for any individuals using the railroad’s bridge. That struck Ferry where it hurt: in the pocketbook. The crossings stopped, but not the angst.
Fourth of July was approaching; on that day, the entire town of ferry congregated by the railroad bridge as the Midnight Sun Express approached. Just as the train crossed the Ferry bridge the entire population – men, women and children – dropped their pants in protest and mooned the train.
Henceforth, passengers on every train were guaranteed to see bare, if not bear.
The railroad wasn’t thrilled with these protests; after it happened a few times, state troopers were called in to stop the “Ferry Moon”. The trooper’s presence did stop the protest, but when they left, the Ferry Moon reappeared. The “moon” kept re-appearing sporadically for two or three years. Tour guides would tell train passengers to keep their eyes open in the event the “moon” appeared.
The railroad, exasperated by the persistent “moonings”, finally built a bridge for vehicles next to the railroad bridge. But most Fourth of July’s, the residents of Ferry still commemorate their victory by mooning the Midnight Sun Train as it passes by. Don’t believe me? Check it out.