Picture of the Week
Archives Section

Welcome to the Alaska Railroad Picture of the Week archives. A photograph is truly worth a thousand words. The Picture of the Week page began on February 16, 1998 with Jeff Child's photo of the Alaska Railroad's first locomotive, number 1. Since that time, professional photographers, railfans, Alaska Railroad employees, historians and passengers have sent a multitude of prints, slides, scanned images and digital photographs. Unfortunately, I can only post a fraction of what I receive due to lack of time. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Picture of the Week Archives: 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008

2009 Pictures of the Week
01/05 Art Chase "ARR's 3011 and 2008 are airing up in North Pole, under less than ideal weather. 43 BELOW zero." 1/1/0
01/05 Art Chase "Alaska Railroads 4317 leads a late afternoon oil train back to Fairbanks. It is -51 degrees on my thermometer ( that 83 degree's below freezing!). The ice fog has been coming in waves all day long. It has been so cold that hands freeze to anything metal instantly. She was sitting back in the trees when I found them, and they were running in a high notch just to keep the diesels warm. When the train headed to Fairbanks, you could hardly see them, but for the blazing glow of those four bright lamps." 1/3/09
01/12 Blaine Berg

Former HALW consist manager (1994-1998), Blaine Berg, shares a few of his photos from his December 4, 2008 Hurricane Turn excursion.

1.SHERMAN CITY HALL, POPULATION 2” is what is painted across the front of the house. It is, and has been since 1965, the home of Clyde and Mary Lovel.

2.On Hurricane bridge, looking down the gulch toward Chulitna River. In Native tongue: CHULTINA is 'The river that comes from nowhere and goes to nowhere

3. Approaching Hurricane Gulch bridge. An SD70MAC on point. The consist was: one (1) baggage car, one (1) dining car (kitchen closed) and one (1) coach car… oh, and then another SD70MAC. The consist was just the reverse order on the return trip. Funny how that works.

01/19 David Shechter One of my favorite artist photos is what I call, "tank car infinity." Madison,Wisconsin native David Shechter recently sent me his version of this from Fairbanks while the temperature plunged to a frosty 50 degrees below zero. January 2008.
01/26 Phillip Faudi While in Whittier in July, City Manager Mark Earnest let me borrow his Alaska Railroad slide collection to scan. Here is an awesome slide of F7A #1526.  It was built in 1952 (builder #16522) for the DRGW, #5724.  The Alaska Railroad bought it in 1970, rebuilt it in 1978 and then later traded it in to EMD. Even though it is shown here on the Alaska Railroad, it is still in DRGW paint scheme, September 1, 1971.
02/02 PANA-VUE Several years ago, I took a poll and asked people what was their favorite Alaska Railroad era. Most folks replied it was during those grand EMD F7 years. This is no surprise since, as wikipedia.com says, "The F7 design has become entrenched in the popular imagination due to it having been the motive power of some of the most famous trains in North American railroad history." So here is F7 #1512 in front of the old McKinley Park depot. This building has always had a special place in my heart as it was the structure that greeted my wife and I when we detrained in 1986. Check out that interesting fellow with the red briefcase. What do you suppose he is all about?
02/09 Dave Blazejewski Have you seen page 48 of the February 2009 issue of Railroads Illustrated? If you have then you'll instantly recognize this photo. It is from Alaska Railroad employee and railfan Dave Blazejewski. Dave caught the passenger express just north of Broad Pass at MP 305.5 amidst an awesome field of blooming fireweed. 7/26/08. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee and was wearing all required personal protective equipment. The ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission.
02/16 Frank Keller "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit," wrote Emerson. And what more vibrant colors could you find in Alaska then the golden blaze of the quaking Aspen trees. Frank Keller caught this company work train as it slowly snakes through this striking display of fall foliage. 2008
02/23 Richard Wise A MOW crew practicing the fine art of replacing a rail by hand to correct a defect. Turnagain Arm, April 2000 (1, 2, 3)
03/02 Anchorage Museum of History and Art May 21, 1921 view looking East into the Alaska Engineering Commission shop. To the left is Narrow Gauge Dinky #21 and a sister on standard gauge flat cars. These locomotives had been in use by contractors south of Anchorage working along Turnagain Arm until the standard gauge tracks were connected. In front of the locomotives can be seen parts for a steam shovel. The dinky locomotives were small enough to be moved as deck loads on board ship. The larger Panama Moguls arrived as bits and pieces as shown to the right center of the photo. Drivers on axels, cylinder blocks, side rods and an ash pan are evident. It was a beautiful spring day that invites a visit to 1919.
03/09 Richard Wise

This February 2000 photo shows just how thirsty the Alaska Railroad had become for diesel power. If you count closely, you will find nine leased locomotives in the photo below. All the Helm units were former GP40's rebuilt to GP40-3 specs. In other words, they had all new electronics and computerized fuel monitoring systems.

This all began to change when the first new SD70MACs arrived in Anchorage during that same month. Little by little, the leased units disappeared, never to return.

03/16 Richard Elgenson I have still not quite recovered from the flu which I contracted on the eve of taking the weekend train in Alaska. However, while I was still healthy, I took the Hurricane Turn train from Anchorage to Hurricane on a very snowy Thursday, March 5, 2009. On the return to Anchorage, at Sunshine, I spotted a headlight late in the afternoon. Our train slowed down and I was spotted right at the engineer's window of ARR 4317. Not quite knowing what to say, I asked if he had any Gray Poupon? He, I later found out, was Engineer Chuck Tenney, who replied "no." He asked if I had an In-N-Out burger, to which I replied no. My train moved forward 30 feet, then back to facing Engineer Tenney on 4317. By then, I had seen the length of his train and said "you must have the shortest train on the Alaska Railroad". He laughed and said they were going to pick up a few more cars on the way to Healy and return with a 70 car coal train. We eventually left and were later sabotaged by a frozen switch just hundreds of feet short of our spot east of C Street. It was a very snowy, scary drive to South Anchorage for this city boy who hadn't driven in snow for over 10 years. That night, I showed the photos to Steve Culver who was astonished to see his engineer working on his day off. On Saturday evening, I again spoke to Engineer Tenney in Fairbanks. He stated he got tied up at Healy at 2 AM and made his way back to Fairbanks in time to get his 8 hours rest with 15 minutes to spare for the weekend passenger train run.
03/23 Charles Bonville ARR 3002 (1, 2) sits on Engine Track 3 at the Portland and Western locomotive shop in Albany, Oregon. The shed on the left is the sanding, refueling and washing shed, and the main shop stands in the background. Engine Track 3 is typically reserved for the locomotives that need the most significant repair work, and you can see the open side doors on the PNWR 1853 SD9M. The operational status of 3002 is unknown but it has been sitting here for a few weeks now. March 8, 2009
03/30 Dave Blazejewski In an historic first, due to changing traffic patterns the ARR has chosen to exercise its FRA waiver to run mixed trains consisting of revenue passenger and haz-mat freight traffic. On this Saturday morning the first one is being readied for departure. Three SD70MACs pull north across C Street to head out of town for the 356 mile journey to Fairbanks. Trailing the power are 13 coaches (inflated this day by charter equipment deadheading north) and 17 freight cars (7 COFC loads and 10 loads of diesel fuel) on Passenger track 1. The 120 passengers aboard this day are about to become a part of history as the past becomes prologue in Alaska! Beyond the train can be seen the icy blue waters of Cook Inlet and then the mighty peaks of the Alaska Range 80 miles distant. Anchorage, March 14, 2009. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee and was wearing all required personal protective equipment. The ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission.
04/06 Casie Williams Skip Williams says of these photos, "Retired last May, wife retired last September, sold house in AK, and am now living as a full timer with a 5th wheel and an F350. The wife took me on a couple of train trips here in AZ for Valentines day. Grand Canyon RR out of Williams, AZ And the Verde Canyon RR (a chocolate lovers special). Guess what I suddenly remembered when we got to the station. 1510 & 1512 were there!! Attached are some photos (1, 2, 3) my wife took of the former Alaska RR ladies. They're still working and looking great in their new livery." February 2009
04/13 Richard Elgenson "This one is the northbound Aurora train of March 7. In this shot, you can see a small portion of the Aurora car at the end of the train."
04/20 Unknown The loco is one of the 200 class Panama Moguls but I have no idea what number. I can tell you this is not Whittier but rather Seward. The view is looking due East across Resurrection Bay from about where the Sea Life Center is located in Seward today. Time frame could be any where from 1919 through the 1946 when the last 200 class locomotive was retired. An example would be #224 with a slope back tender that was retired in 1946. Commentary by Pat Durand. Photo provided by Sherman Stebbins
04/27 Richard Wise I was sorry to hear that Richard Wise (Anchorage, AK) passed away earlier this week. Richard had always been a big fan of this website and had sent me hundreds of Alaska Railroad photos over the years. In his honor, I am posting my favorite of his photos. When I first viewed this one, I thought the snow was churning ocean waters. The low resolution digital photo also makes the SD70MAC appear as if made of plastic. The entire photo borders on surreal. It is people just like Richard that makes this website truly great. 2/15/00
05/04 Jim Somerville Many thanks to Jim Somerville for giving us an eagle's eye view for the current rail work at the Anchorage depot. Jim says of his shot, "The new tracks seem to be almost ready for summer." 4/29/09
05/11 Dave Blazejewski Here is a shot of the super hot "Garbage Train." It ran a week ago today on April 27 to shuttle the garbage trucks in to Whittier so they could make the rounds and empty the dumpsters from two weeks of overflowing trash. They then drove right back on these flats and were returned to Anchorage the same day. In this photo it is just getting ready to depart from the TOFC ramp in the AOC parking lot. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee and was wearing all required personal protective equipment. The ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission.
05/18 Dave Blazejewski

Here are shots (1, 2) of the DMU arriving for the first time on April 16th. The weather was crappy, but the subject was cool. DMU #751 made its first revenue run exactly one month later. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee and was wearing all required personal protective equipment. The ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission.

05/25 Charles Bonville "ARR 3002 left the PNWR on April 14. Destination then was CEECO in Tacoma, WA. The PNWR '664' approaches the Santiam River bridge, with ARR 3002 clearly visible in the lead power consist."
05/25 Robert Krol

Robert Krol occasionally encounters wildlife while driving a truck for Princess Tours. Of the brown bear, "I was on the way back to Kenai on Monday night and found this by the Russian River Bridge in the pull out." In regards to the black bear, "Photographed another bear last night on the way home. This bear walked around like he owned the road. He didn't care I was stopped in the road taking pics."

06/01 Gerald Burblis "The DMU made it's maiden run (crew only no passengers) today 5/14/09 from Anchorage to Girdwood. I was with the Alaska Railroad personnel at the Girdwood station and Channel 2 News out of Anchorage."
06/08 Michael Criss "Caught a shot of 32 in Talkeetna. Train was just sitting on some unused track so I got lots of shots." 5/16/09
06/15 Art Chase "Had a chance to follow the first passenger train of the season out of Fairbanks Saturday, she was really kicking up dust! Very light load on the train southbound. Here at Goldstream I was ready to give up the chase. I just couldn't keep up with this train. Made it out of the truck in time to catch 4328 lead her charge across the last road in Fairbanks."
06/22 Robert Krol Did you here the news? Number 3002 is back in town! Robert Krol caught her just as she got off the barge in Whittier (1, 2) on June 17th. Welcome back pretty lady!
06/29 Matt Leistico

The ARRC seems to be working hard to clean up the yards in Anchorage lately. The first photo shows five old cabooses, four of which are currently for sale. The photo was taken on June 21, 2009 near the ARRC General Office Building.

06/29 Unknown The final three photos (1, 2, 3) shows some of the 37 scrap rail cars being taken off the rail at the QAP pit at Palmer. The cars are going to be cut up and trucked to meet a barge at Point McKenzie. June 12, 2009
07/06 Tim Sullivan As most of us know the ARRC cannot use chemical vegetation control along the railroads. Therefore, they must resort to using mechanical brush cutters. Tim Sullivan, ARR employee, sent us a couple of photos of the C B 6 hy rail brush cutter (1, 2, 3) while working between Talkeetna and Curry on June 27, 2009. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee and was wearing all required personal protective equipment. The ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission.
07/13 Robert Krol

It has been said that all good things must come to an end. Such is true for the Alaska Railroad's four Rail Diesel Cars (RDC).

In 1986, the year I first visited Alaska, the Alaska Railroad acquired two used Budd RDCs. The following year they acquired three more with one of them becoming the hanger queen (i.e. used for parts). Soon thereafter the railroad pressed them into service on what eventually became known as the Hurricane Turn. The RDCs were well suited for this stretch of rail since they served as locomotive, baggage and passenger car all rolled into one. It provided the vital link for the the last remaining flag stop service in the U.S. and was the only transportation to many cabins on the stretch of track between Talkeetna and Hurricane Gulch. RDCs carried passengers with backpacks, fishing poles, sleds loaded with groceries, kitchen cabinets, chest freezers, canoes, dogs and the occasional foamer who just couldn't believe this little gem still existed.

As the years passed, RDC maintenance became more expensive and shop employees began predicting their retirement. In the fall of 2008, the RDCs went to Fairbanks for their annual inspections and maintenance. It was determined their electrical problems were just too costly to be repaired economically so it was decided to retire them from train service. Currently, numbers 701 and 702 are being modified so they can be drug around with the work trains unpowered as shoving platforms and tool sheds and warm up areas for the guys on the gangs. Number 711 is currently up for sale and maybe some lucky railfan will scrape up enough bucks to put it in his backyard to house his HO scale train layout.

Number 712 was purchased by Eagle Cove Camp & Conference Center, Inc. in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Eagle Cove Camp is a campground for kids with medical restrictions and a retreat center. Visiting their website I found the following statement, "Imagine that the only time a camper has to go outside is when, upon their arrival, they board a standard gauge self-propelled passenger rail car (which for many years has been in regular passenger service on the Alaska Railroad through Autumn, 2008) that carries them over to the state-of-the-art facility." Now how awesome is that! A faithful old work horse spends her retirement years giving rides to young kids.

Robert Krol's July 2, 2009 photos (1, 2) show #712 on the southbound freight heading for a date with the Fairbanks Provider (barge) in Whittier. Goodbye old friend! The best of luck in your new job!

07/20 Chris Starnes ARR 3014 leads a short southbound Whittier freight along the Seward Highway near Girdwood. May 2009
07/27 Dave Blazejewski After working the APU spur, #2002 is now on the mainline crossing Ship Creek. May 2, 2009 Note: the photographer is a railroad employee and was wearing all required personal protective equipment. The ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission. [Webmaster's note: Although I can't pinpoint the exact reason, I find this to be an extremely striking photo. It is very unique indeed.]
08/03 Dale Greth Ribbons of steel lit up nicely by the Alaskan sun. Photo taken May 18, 2009 by ARR Customer Service Representative Dale Greth from the Anchorage yard tower.
08/10 Casey Durand An early arrival of the northbound Express in Fairbanks, July 2, 2009 at 8:12pm.  The temperature was 83 degrees!!!
    As you may already know RDC #712 was sold to Eagle Cove Camp and Conference Center, Inc., Tomahawk, WI. Here are two photos as she made the journey to her new home.
08/17 Scott Barr Scott caught #712 leaving eastbound through Whitefish, Montana early in the evening on 7/19/09.
08/17 David Oberbeck David took this photo as #712 passed through Junction City, Wisconsin on 7/26/09. David is the Architect for the Eagle Cove project and promises to send more photos, especially after she becomes operational at the camp.
08/24 Doug Ellison Doug passed on this shot of a very cloudy misty weekend in Alaska showing ARR #4321 with Princess DEX train southbound at Potter. 8/15/09
08/31 Jim Somerville As you may already be aware, the Alaska Railroad ran its first revenue gravel train at the new Granite Birchwood pit this month. Here is an aerial photo of it from Jim Somerville.Hey and you didn't even have to get air sick to see this! August 2009
09/07 Marty Bernard What an awesome shot! Marty says of his favorite ARR photo, "It's the Coastal Classic south of Potter at 9:47 pm on 8/22/09.  It was totally overcast and thus quite dark.  The coast is Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.  The S70MAC is #4328.  Hand held at ISO 1600 and 1/100.  Digital photography is great. Couldn't do this with Kodachrome."
09/07 Brent Smith Brent Smith is a railfan who came all the way from the Land Down Under to check out the Alaska Railroad. Here he caught GP40 #3012 and two SD70MACs lounging around the Anchorage Yard. 8/14/09
09/14 Casey Durand You probably already saw Moe Odell's photos of the scrapping of NAHX 94716 on my main page. Now here are three (1, 2, 3) Casey Durand photos as well. I really like the first photo since I have always wondered what the inside of a covered hopper looks like.
09/21 Scott Barr Although Scott Barr sent me this photo over a year and a half ago, it is never too late to post a photo from a fellow ARR railfan! Scott's photo captures SD70MAC #4015 as it heads out of Anchorage in May 2008. His photo as well as many others are featured here: http://www.locophotos.com/, http://www.railcarphotos.com/ and also check out http://www.railpictures.net/ A person can't view too many Alaska Railroad photographs! LOL
09/28 Robert Krol Here is an interesting recent photograph. Locomotive crane 106 is missing its boom and bears the label Car Mover (CM) 106. What's up with that? Apparently it was damaged a few months ago. It was too costly to repair the boom and put it back in service as a crane so now it's a car mover only. Recycling is good but reusing is better!
10/05 Arthur Jaros Art says of his photo, "A photo of ARR 712's new temporary home as of July 27 inside a Tomahawk Railroad rail-served warehouse at Tomahawk, WI. The TR is graciously storing ARR 712 for our Bible camp until we secure the final government permit needed to allow us to construct our insular shortline std gauge railroad on which ARR 712 will operate as the camp's passenger shuttle"
10/12 Unknown I must confess that I spend a fair amount of money shopping for Alaska Railroad items on eBay. Part of my pleasure is snagging items that I know will add to the historical assets of this website. Below is one of my recent acquisitions. Although the photographer is unknown, I do know RS-1 #1014 is in Anchorage on a warm summer day in July of 1972. This locomotive was built in 1943 for the US Army #8045. The Alaska Railroad acquired it in 1947. It was retired in 1970 and was to become Mate 3. It was scrapped in 1973.
10/19 Terry Tedor Alaska Railroad engine #2008 pulling empty coal hoppers across Moose Creek Flood Control Project 12/21/2008. Peaks of the Alaska Range are in the background. Taken shortly before sunset, about 2:40PM. Empty cars are coming from Eielson AFB and will eventually make their way back to the Usibelli Coal Mine near Healy, Alaska. Fairbanks, Eielson and Ft. Wainwright all use Usibelli coal to generate electricity. 
10/26 Skip Williams Skip Williams says, "The wife and I are now retired and living in a 5th wheel (sold everything in Alaska). We spent the summer on a circle route from California through the south, up the east coast and visited my home neighborhood (Sylvania, OH and southern Michigan). While there we went to Flint, Michigan and rode the Huckleberry Railroad. While there, the volunteers told me I might get to tour the engine house. Several of us got directions from the general manager. When we got back there, I got to see one of the Alaska Railroad's Grand Lady's, #152 (Huckleberry #2) sitting in the house (1, 2). She's in need of a boiler overhaul, she only has a few hours left on her run time. They're not sure when they'll be able to refurb her as funds are low."
11/02 Mark Earnest And just like that, these two RDCs were gone. As a friend of mine said, "The Alaska Railroad is quickly becoming pretty homogenized....no more MP15s, no more cabooses, and now no more Budds." For those of us who had the opportunity to ride them on the Hurricane Turn, we took a fabulous journey of a lifetime. As for me personally, I didn't get to ride them enough. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got until its gone. Mark Earnest's photos show units 702 and 711 in Whittier on October 25, 2009 as they prepare for departure to Oregon as "spares" for TriMet. Goodbye old friends. You will be greatly missed.
11/09 Matt Leistico Containers on Flat Car (COFC) are very prolific on the Alaska Railroad as are the flat cars that haul them. The ARRC inventory contains over 200 flat cars capable of handling COFCs and includes series 120xx, 124xx, 129xx, 187xx, 189xx, 192xx and 194xx. Northbound shipments range from consumer goods including groceries, department store merchandise, to construction material, fish processing equipment and other industrial supplies. Southbound shipments consist largely of natural resource products especially seafood exports. Matt Leistico's photo taken on 10/15/09 on Ocean Dock Road in Anchorage is a fine representation of a COFC train on a beautiful sunny Alaskan day.
11/16 John Combs Many thanks to President Obama for letting me share a ride on Air Force One to Alaska last Thursday so I could railfan the Alaska Railroad with Sarah Palin on Saturday. Just kidding! Actually, I am here in the 49th state to celebrate a retired Alaska Railroad yardmaster's 80th birthday. I slipped away on Saturday (11/14/09) to chase the coal train from Anchorage to Portage with employee Dave Blazejewski during his day off. It was colder than a witch's thorax along Turnagain Arm with single digit temperatures and 25 mph wind gusts. However, persistence paid off and we were able to capture some truly stunning shots like this little beauty. The train was under distributed power with three SD70MACs on the front and another three on the back.
11/23 Robert Ulberg Yes, I keep track of our former ladies. This pair of RDCs have wandered their way to Oregon where they have found a new life. Robert Ulberg says of his photo, "These two Alaska Railroad RDC's have found a new home in Wilsonville, OR. They were purchased by Tri-Met of Portland, OR to be use as back-up units on the Westside Express Service (WES) that runs from Wilsonville to Beaverton, OR. The units arrived from Vancouver, WA sometime yesterday (11/14/09). They are not expected to be in service until next summer."
11/30 Terry Tedor Taken 01/19/2004 at 3:30 in the afternoon. The picture shows a load of tank cars filled pulling out of the refinery in North Pole. They're most likely bound for Anchorage and are probably filled with jet fuel. At the time the refinery was owned by MAPCO/Williams but has since been sold to Flint Hills Resources. Ambient temperature was -40°F. The "mist" in the picture is ice fog, which is frozen fog droplets that only forms during extremely cold temperatures, -40°F or colder. Even at 40 below the ARR keeps working! - Commentary by Terry Tedor
12/07 Dave Blazejewski Three SD70MACs are seen on the rear of a 70 car unit coal train as it crosses the icy tidal waters of the Twenty Mile River just a hundred yards or so from it's mouth on Turnagain Arm. The river's waters flow from its name sake glacier up the valley and out of sight to the left. On the point out of view are three more big EMD sisters. Use of six units precludes the train from having to double the "hill" at Grandview which features 3% grades and 14 degree curves. November 14, 2009
12/14 Blake Moore

Ah, the joy of retirement! Where I work there are lots of people planning retirement parties for the end of this year. I myself have five years to go, but can't hardly wait. Imagine what it would be like to not just spend a few weeks in Alaska each year, but to instead roost for several months! Thus at the end of my 35-year career I will retire from it all so I can play more.

When the Alaska Railroad retires equipment, it will not be to play. Instead it will head to the fiery furnace where it will be melted down into molten iron and possibly end up as part of your next automobile. Or it may be purchased by someone who will restore it for historical purposes. Here are two (1, 2) photos captured by Blake Moore on September 10, 2009 from an ARRC Fairbanks retirement party. Can you guess what each item's future will be?

12/21 Matt Leistico Last week I asked for people to send me photos taken over the next seven days. I would use all entries for my next Picture of the Week. The ever diligent Matt Leistico was my only submitter and he was kind enough to send 18 photos taken on 12/19/09. I was unable to pick a few favorites so I asked my wife to assist. Here are her favorite four (1, 2, 3, 4). Enjoy!
12/28 Lloyd Tesch Lloyd Tesch shot these photos (1, 2, 3) of the Loop District from up on top of the mountain while out snow machining. Of his photos he says, "That's a nice area to ride for many reasons, the scenery of course, is at the top of the list." December 2009. Although these was not taken on railroad property please note the ARRC does not permit the general public on to their private property without permission.


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