Greasy, sweaty and dirty
I've been working on the railroad,     .
All the live long day,
I've been working on the railroad,
Just to pass the time away.
The words to this song sound romantic, but they don't reflect real life.  Workers may slave from dawn until dusk, but they aren't doing it to kill time.  When the Alaska Central Railway was born in 1903, wages were a mere $1.00 per day.  After food, lodging and necessities were subtracted, there wasn't much left.  The labor was hard and the mosquitoes relentless.

Almost 100 years later, people still view "working on the railroad" with some degree of romance.  Modern machinery has made the work easier and the wages are much better, but the hard work still remains.  As I became aquainted with a Maintenance of Way worker on an RDC, he became noticeably irritated at the thought of my Alaska Railroad web site "glorifying" his work.  "You enjoy it because you don't have to work on it.  It is greasy, sweaty and dirty.  It takes a lot out of a man."

It is with this thought in mind that I dedicate these pages to the working men and women of the Alaska Railroad.

John Combs