Clock stops in the 2024 Nenana Ice Classic

Apr. 27—The ice on the Tanana River went out early Saturday morning, stopping the clock in the Nenana Ice Classic, the century-old Interior Alaska river breakup guessing game.

A 30-foot-tall wooden tripod, which is placed in early spring on the ice upriver from the Nenana tributary each year, is connected to a clock that stops once the ice goes out.

The tripod fell and stopped the clock at a time of 5:18 a.m. April 27, ending the game.

Tickets for the 108th Nenana Ice Classic cost $3 each this year. Proceeds went into a $210,155 jackpot that will be split among the bettors who guessed the exact date, hour and minute when the clock stopped — or the next closest minute on either side if no one chose the exact time. (This year's ticket sales totaled $512,573, down about 5.5% from last year, according to organizers.)

Winners will be determined and announced soon, organizers said Saturday. In 2023, the clock went out at 5:01 p.m. May 8, and 10 winners received $22,210 each.

The event is part of a yearly river breakup that signals the end of winter and beginning of spring. Last year, breakup was delayed by one to two weeks after a particularly cold April; this year, warm weather meant an earlier breakup.

The ice has gone out on April 27 three other times since 1917, organizers said in a social media post: in 1988, 2007 and 2020.

The game originated in 1917 when a group of railroad engineers bet a total of $800 trying to guess the precise date and time when the Tanana River would break up.

Since then, the earliest breakup date has been April 14, and the latest was May 20.