Friday, November 22, 2013

Alaska Railroading

Alaska Railroad 7123, Seward, Alaska, July 1961. My late Dad was working for Foss Maritime as Chief Engineer on a tug I’ve lost track of. They were in Seward when he captured this switcher shifting cars.

It is unfortunate that the Alaska Railroad isn’t as well publicized as those in the lower 48, which is a shame – they run a tortured existence in cold weather, fine tour trains, with up-to-date horsepower.

Seward is the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. In fact, construction of the railroad began here in 1903 under the name Alaska Central Railroad. This keeps the port busy with freight coming on and off the trains, but also makes Seward a primary end point for north-bound cruise ships. Cruise ship passengers get off the boats and take the train farther north to Denali and other Alaskan attractions.

On July 15, 1923, President Warren G. Harding traveled to Alaska to celebrate the completion of the Alaska Railroad by driving the golden spike in ceremonies at Nenana, one of the state's largest cities at the time. 

Tragically, President Harding died from an attack of food poisoning on his return trip to San Francisco on August 2, 1923!

If you would like to learn more about this unique railroad, I found some interesting web sites – one of the more complete posted by John Combs - “
John’s Alaska Railroad web page” loaded with maps, photos, and other nifty stuff – well worth your time to investigate. And of course, the “official” web site!

Railroad Stuff: Alaska Railroad 7123, nee US Army 7123, ALCo S2, 1000 hp, built 1943, sn: 70190, acquired by ARR 1955, retired (scrapped) 1975.

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