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The Alaskan Railroad

Guest Author Peggy Bradshaw; Photos by George Bradshaw

Stepping onto the dome car of the Alaska Railroad you do not realize that this train is not just a tourist train.

Domed car of the Alaskan Railroad

Domed car of the Alaskan Railroad

We were on a land tour, after having completed our cruise part of our vacation, and thought this was just another part of this fantastic trip we were having. I have been fortunate enough to ride the Alaskan Railroad twice in my life, both as a part of a tour. The dome car is filled with passengers just like me, armed with cameras and wearing newly purchased Alaska T-shirts.

Avalanches and heavy snows have stalled the railroad many times and crews are sent out as fast as they can so the railroad will keep running. A rockslide once closed the highway to Whittier and the train took over the task of transporting passengers back and forth to Anchorage, with stops at small towns and villages along the way. The railroad is based in Anchorage with a large rail yard and switching station.

Train pulling into Denali Station

Train pulling into Denali Station

The railroad has signed an agreement with the National Park Services to make stops at National Parks such as Chugach and Denali. It regularly stops at Talkeetna and Wasilla and other towns on the rail route.

Our journey on the railroad included excellent service with drinks and snacks, and a dining car with specialties such as reindeer chili and reindeer stew. Service is excellent as is the cuisine. There are observation platforms where passengers can view the scenery as it passes and take photos to their hearts content. You can see Mt. McKinley from several viewpoints and in places the railroad bed follows the Susiitna River. The tour guides are always well informed and can answer questions readily. It was a trip to be remembered and to marvel about.

Train following Susitina River

Train following Susitina River

History of the Railroad

The Alaskan Railroad was completed in 1923; President Harding tapping in a gold spike. The railroad has enabled communities to settle and flourish along the railroad. Supplies are delivered to the Fairbanks gold fields, plus pipe and supplies for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The railroad helped to build the Alaskan Highway and it supported the war effort during WWII. Eight million tons of freight are hauled over the rails every year, along with 500,000 passengers and provides access for Alaskans and visitors from the tidewater in Seward and Whittier to the interior of Alaska.

Tomorrow… Visit another Oregon brewpub – this time in Corvallis, home of the Oregon State University Beavers – “Go Beavs!”

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One Response to “The Alaskan Railroad”

  1. Shirley Wagner Says:

    Very informative and entertaining. She nailed it perfectly as I traveled the train once as well.

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