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 | 2010 | 2011

2012 Pictures of the Week
01/02 Anonymous Steam locomotive #557 arrived in Whittier on 12/30/11. It is shown here in the Whittier yard on 12/31/11. Excitement! Excitement! Excitement!
01/09 Jonathan Fischer

"This Budd's for you! My records show the location as being MP 224 just south of Talkeetna. Tom Schultz pointed out this location to me back in 1982 and I've taken advantage of this location several times. I was as surprised as you were about the 'just married' sign. Someone else's wife must like trains too! As this location is so close to Talkeetna, I had not ridden the train that day and instead had hiked in and waited for the train, so I had no idea that the banner would be there. I did catch up with the train back in Anchorage and took several pictures of the banner, but my vague recollection is that the wedding couple had left before I got there. That's the Alaska Range in the background. Mt. Foraker is on the left, Mt. Hunter in the middle and Mt. McKinley is on the right. I spent that winter riding the Budds from Talkeetna to Hurricane (and return) identifying potential train picture locations with Mt. McKinley in the background. It was a productive time as I photographed several unique locations." February 1986

[Webmaster's note: Look for more awesome photos from this talented photographer in the upcoming months!]

01/18 Jeff DeBroeck Jeff gave this photo the title, "Red Light District." It shows the Maintenance of Way gang on the night shift just south of Girdwood. Their mission was tie replacement between Portage and Girdwood. I guess it's all in a night's work. Summer 2011
01/18 Jaz GP 38-2 #2007 is making a delivery to Alaska Mill and Feed. The tracks here run right along First Avenue. It is perhaps the only place in Alaska where the tracks are right on the street. This photo was taken in front of Municipal Light and Power's operation department. Here the crew is exiting the cab to operate the signal so they can cross Post Road. November 2011
01/23 David C. Milhoan, Sherry Girard Collection

Is winter here yet? The more you zoom into this image the colder it gets. Thanks to Sherry Girard for sharing photos saved by her Step Grandfather, David C. Milhoan who retired sometime in the 1950s. This image is the cropped top half of a 2"X3.5" print scanned at 1200 DP!.

I believe the location is the Broad Pass Section where the crew is taking water at the tank and topping off the tenders using the stiff leg crane in the background. Date cannot be determined as yet. Rotary would be either #2 or #3 in its early steam configuration. Most likely the older #2 because it has one of the old 200 class slope back tenders at the rear with high sideboards. The locomotive is flying dark colored flags, would they be red for end of train while backing. or green indicating there was another section following? An unusual snow fleet consist as there is only a single 600 class locomotive pushing as they are not on mountain grades. Also see second view.

My stepdad, William T. Stewart told of spending 6 days working the Rotary fleet around the clock in 1948. Three crews were at the section in Cantwell, they would switch off with one crew on the locomotive and one crew on the rotary plowing south until they ran low on water and then back up to Cantwell. As fast as they could clear it and get back in the cut it would drift full again. Could this be one of those crews? - Pat Durand

01/30 Pedro Rezende Old Alaska Railroad boxcars have been used for a lot of different purposes after retirement. I've seen them used as homes, storage sheds and even advertising billboards. Well, Pedro Rezende found a boxcar in Pasco, Washington that is being used as a hobby shop. He was told by a friend that it "is the best hobby shop he knows in US." Pedro says the store is great and has almost everything you need in many scales. I asked if he could get us the address and he provided the following: 560 Ione Rd, Pasco WA 99301. The email address is prantletrains@hotmail.com.
02/06 Casey Durand

On Friday the Anchorage yard was masked in a soft snow fall. Saturday morning found the yard buried under 13 inches of the fluffy annoyance! The loaders are always the first out, equipped with over-size snow buckets or push-boxes. These are used to clear the roads and driveways quickly for vehicular traffic. Next the air-knife...a 650CFM trailer mounted air compressor is towed around the yard from which extends two very long 1-inch air hoses. A long pipe "air-knife" is affixed to the end of these hoses and makes short work of cleaning the switches. As the cloud of snow, ice, and ballast settles a switch is now visible. The next tool on site is a small skid steer loader. This is used to do clean-up around the switch and make clearance room for the big pushy guy on the team. The final sweep in this operation is made by a grader "big pushy guy". Simply driving over, around, and across the yard tracks, the grader rolls the snow over and over till it is in the clear for the loaders to push and scoop away. With the switches being cleared first, the grader is able to start at that point and know/see where the track is. It will take this team of six operating two air-knifes, two loaders, a skid steer and a grader about 12 hours to clear the entire yard just to the point that operations can continue unhindered. (1, 2)

After a break in the snow when no more is predicted for some time, MOW will bring along flangers and ballast regulators to do a deep cleaning of the yard. All this time two side-dump trailers are heaped with snow from stockpiles around the yard and hauled off site to be dumped.

Sorry for the phone pictures. I have to order a new charger for my good camera!

02/13 Pat Durand

One of my very first Alaska Railroad "friends" was a locomotive engineer named Frank Dewey. I learned a great deal about railroading from him via email correspondence. However, this learning was overshadowed by the days I spent with him doing his job. He once told me that those in train service (engineers, conductors and brakemen) were like hobos with a job. It took me years to fully appreciate what he meant.

Train service is one of the most demanding careers in railroading. Employees must be available for a call to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They are subject to extensive travel requiring them to be away from home on a constant basis. Once they get a work call they have an hour and a half to grab their grip and report. Extra board employees routinely work nights, weekends, and holidays. However, the demands of the job do not end here. Although they work in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the environment can be incredibly harsh. I will never forget the time I had to walk (i.e. fight my way) 50 feet in waist deep snow. When temperatures get incredibly low, snow has the consistancy of sugar. Step into it and the snow fills the void you created. I just can't image having to walk a half a mile back from the locomotive to check on a freight car with a screening wheel.

I tip my hat in humble respect to those on the Alaska Railroad who regularly brave the elements to keep those trains a runnin'. Pat Durand's photo shows a crew bus delivering crews in the Anchorage yard for the southbound Whittier turn on January 16, 2012. It is 16° F below zero. Today Frank Dewey lives in the Texas heat. Given the choice, I know he would give anything to be a part of this crew. Once train service is in your blood....

[Note: This photo was taken from the parking lot during a shop tour at a tour company coach barn.]

02/20 Frank Keller

This is a shot of the 110N between Girdwood and Portage with the dramatic Chugach Mountains standing watch. As Anchorage is not an ice free port some of the barges that would normally unload in Anchorage have to be unloaded in Seward and then loaded onto trains for the relatively short haul to Anchorage. February 2012

[Webmaster's note: After seeing this photo I had to put my eyes back in their sockets!]

02/27 Jonathan Fischer I was going to go back and take pictures of the Runaway Train consist in the Portage yard, but a train from Seward showed up. So I took pictures of that train instead. In my humble opinion, this is one of the better pictures I took when I lived there. This picture was published in an American Steel Foundries calendar in the mid 1980’s. I don’t know the exact date off hand.
03/05 Casey Durand

Here are some pix of the switch crew! This is the ground-crew component of the snow removal group in the Anchorage Yard. The trailer mounted air compressor is capable of supplying 750 cubic feet of air per minute at over 100 pounds per square inch. This is harnessed by two, one inch hoses with a tool known as an "Air Knife". This system is capable of removing ice, packed snow, and snow drifts several inches thick. Switches contain lots of nooks and crannies and safe operation of a switch or "turnout" requires all these areas to obtain tight tolerances in both open and closed positions. As such, plowing, scraping or any other means of mechanical snow removal is not permitted due to the possibility of packing snow and ice into the switch. (1, 2, 3)

This same pneumatic system is also used to clear the flange-ways of grade crossings.

On the main line, all major turnouts have been upgraded to heated, remote-control systems. Most all turnouts still have the old trusty "switch broom" hanging in-place from the switch stand. This broom has large heavy gauge twisted steel brushes on the sweep end and an ice-chopper on the other end. These are used to clear the points (closure area of the turnout) and the frog (center crossover area) of any snow and ice residue.

Remember the one thing you can not do with water? You can not compress it! So when there is a little ice in the way of a 420,000 pound locomotive and there is no place for the ice to go, the locomotive can ride up the ice and derail.

03/12 Terry Douglas

Terry says of his photos, "Thought I'd send you a few shots from our trip in November 2011. We went down Turnagain from Anchorage, and on the way back from Portage we chased a mixed freight, and caught it at Bird Creek. (No trespassing, I was on the path beside the track). There was quite a bit of snow on the ground!" (1, 2)

"My wife and I took a nice trip on the Aurora Winter train this last November. The final aim was to see the Northern Lights from North of the Arctic circle, which we managed. All arranged by the ARR. We left Anchorage in a snow shower, 4317 led the train, and after some Snow removal operations, we departed. It was our great good fortune to meet Mary and Clyde Lovel on the train, and I able to purchase Mary's two great books, and have her sign them for us. I also had a bit of a chat with Shannon Cartwright of Ol'556 fame. The engineer for the trip was Chuck Tenney, with whom I was able to talk with at Talkeetna for a while. We lamented the passing of the RDC's on the Hurricane turn run! It was a great trip, as usual on the ARR. The coldest I've had thus far." (3, 4, 5, 6)

03/19 Jonathan Fischer "Hi John, Attached is an image you will find interesting. In the spring of 1986 I walked into this location which is partway between Talkeetna and Hurricane (see map). I don't know the exact distance, but I'm estimating that it was about a 10-12 mile walk in each direction. It's one of my best shots of the ARR and Mt. McKinley. It was published in TRAINS magazine later in 1986 (I don’t know the exact date)."
03/26 Dave Blazejewski Twin SD70MACs lead a 5409 ton and 7526 ft long freight southbound destined to Whittier and a date with ARMS barge voyage 1144. This monster train consists of 70 loads and 39 empties including 95 containers (most of which are empty) all of which will be loaded on the barge for the week long voyage to the Seattle. The train is twisting along the icy shore of Turnagain Arm just north of Brookman siding. Rising beyond are the snow bedecked peaks of the Chugach Range and the massive bulwark of Bird Ridge. (1, 2) November 5, 2011
04/02 Casey Durand Suntranna is located across the river from the Healy yard, right on the river bottom.  The grade leaving the yard to the bridge is so extreme that MOW crews call it the "HI-Rail Roller Coaster" as it is hard to control your pickup going downgrade.  In this photo a modern rail to truck elevator is seen with a loaded car spotted and an empty in the distance.  A small winch and cable system allows one man to safely move the hoppers around to line-up with the discharge pit.  This facility provides Usibelli with one part of their blasting agent used in the coal mining operation.  Just to the right in the photo is the experimental Healy Clean Coal power plant.  It was just up the tracks from this tipple where the first Healy coal was mined from the river bluff before the railroad was complete and before the Usibelli family began exploration at what is now the largest (per export ton) mine in the state.
04/09 Frank Keller Alaska 4005 crosses Glacier Creek while in the background is the snow covered Chugach Mountains. These same mountains host some of Alaska's finest skiing at Mt. Alyeska Ski Resort. The resort has a tram that will take you to the peak of Mt. Alyeska and where it is possible to still see the railroad in the valley below. January 2011.
04/16 Dave Blazejewski The three distriibuted power units sit on the rear of a 70 car loaded export coal train that is strung out in Seward yard sitting on track 8 and hanging through the crossovers up here to track Upper 7. The train is waiting for the extra board crew to come on duty to being unloading into the stockpile. The snow is piled high and the mountains are bright on this splendid day hard by the shore of Resurrection Bay at the ARR's southernmost terminal. March 11, 2012
04/23 Jonathan Fischer

Jonathan Fischer says of his photo, "Last night Laurie and I were looking at some of the slides that I’d recently scanned. So I showed her David Blazejewski’s wonderful article in the December 2011 issue of Railroads Illustrated.

'you didn't do that, did you?' she asked.

'Of course not', I said, 'I didn't own a shotgun.'

This was the first picture I had published in Trains Magazine in early 1984. I was hanging on to atree limb while taking the picture. By this time the E units were relegated to trailing unit status.

04/30 Chris Nuthall Bicentennial liveried 1510 and 1512 roll through Matanuska on a works train in August 1985, the sun unfortunately alluding the photographer at the time. September 14, 1985
05/07 Jonathan Fischer

The Hurricane Turn is heading south, just to the east of the Parks Highway grade crossing near Hurricane, Alaska. This was the last shots I got of the Budd's in service. If I'm reading the map correctly, that’s Kesugi Ridge in the background.

[Webmaster's note: This one falls under the category of "Photos I wish I had taken!"]

05/14 Bill Evans

If you missed the ARRC open house in Anchorage then you'll get to enjoy it via my website. This week features photos of star attraction #557 (click here for more photos). At some point the railroad will begin asking for donations for restoration. I hope that everyone will pitch in and help restore this proud lady of ours!

Next week I'll put up a bunch of photos of the other parts of the open house.

05/21 Jaz If you missed the ARRC open house in Anchorage then here are a few interesting ones from Jaz. Look close for the HO scale #557 on the real life #557. (1, 2, 3, 4)
05/28 Hiroshi Nakanishi Hiroshi Nakanishi was kind enough to send us photos his father had taken during a summer 1968 Alaska Railroad trip. I hope to get them online soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of teasers. Hiroshi's father was in the vestibule between two passenger cars as the train passed through Nenana Canyon. In an all to familiar style, he snaps a shot of the front of the train and then turns to capture the rear end. During that era, the railroad ran mixed passenger/freight consists. No. 5 had 8 passenger cars including 2 baggage cars and a diner, 5 boxcars including ARR, GN and UP, a flat car with a 20-foot reefer container, 7 gondolas with SEALAND containers, 3 empty bulkhead flats and a caboose.
06/04 Casey Durand An awesome shot of all three GP locomotive paint schemes in a row. Anchorage yard, May 2012.
06/11 Jonathan Fischer

The entire work train, on a siding, in Healy, Alaska June 5, 2008. Healy was a neat place when it was a bit of a division point. It was a railroad town, and had that feel and atmosphere. I am not sure what the contraption on top of the 1069 is. It looks like its left over from My Favorite Martian.

[Webmaster note: My guess is the contraption has something to do with measuring tunnel clearance. Anyone else care to comment]

06/18 Mike Criss and Robert Krol

I have a section on my website that shows unusual loads that have graced the rails of the Alaska Railroad. Based on the photos below, it appears I need to make a new entry. Yes, these are the blades for a giant wind turbine. Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) will be placing 12 of these units at Eva Creek which will make this the largest wind project in Alaska. For more information click here.

The first photo below shows the turbine train crossing a bridge in the Talkeetna area. The last three photos (1, 2, 3) shows the blades in Whittier.

06/25 Various This week I've been deluged with photos of blade train #2. I couldn't put them all online so here is a selective smattering. Stay tuned for blade #3 (and last). (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
07/02 Jonathan Fischer A southbound passenger train near Healy, June 2012. Jonathan says of his photo, "I could get a shot here and then make it to the Park ahead of the train. It was a very intense time for bugs. I could keep them at bay until the train arrived. When I put my eye to the camera they would descend en masse. Needless to say I have a lot of bug bites."
07/02 Tom Koole Bonus photo: Remember the June 4, 2012 Picture of the Week where Casey Durand caught a locomotive string that contained all three paint schemes? We'll Tom Koole duplicated that string on his N scale layout in Springboro, Ohio. Nicely done!
07/09 Chris Paulhamus This week's entry is indeed a very beautiful shot. However, I like it for another reason in that even though we hate to admit it, sometimes things don't always go as planned. Says Chris Paulhamus of his photo, "Last Tuesday [6/19/12] I had hopes of snagging the Denali Star from the Vandenberg Ave. overpass on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), but before I left the house, I caught my left knee cap on the corner of the coffee table in our living room.  It was enough to bring me to the ground, but not enough to keep me from heading out.  My biggest concern was having another run-in with the JBER police (I've already shown up on one blotter and was questioned another time...short story though, I was doing nothing wrong/illegal) since I would have to shoot off the north side of the overpass while the sidewalk is on the south side.  Instead of standing on the shoulder of the road, I decided I'd hang out on the grass embankment until I heard the horn blowing for the Davis Highway crossing.  It would be an easy enough jaunt up the embankment, over the guard rail, set up, focus and shoot. And that's how it played out, police-free, and I was able to snag the photo. After the shot, I had to get back down the embankment to get to my car.  And that's where 'knee-busting' part comes in.  As I was going over the guard rail to go back down, I caught my right knee cap on the metal post securing the guard rail.  This too brought me to the ground and drew blood (but amazingly, did not rip my jeans).  I don't know what the chances are of taking out both knees at separate times on the same evening, but I managed to do it!  But at least I got the shot!  It's a week a later and the swelling's gone down but there's still some black and blue there as a reminder."
07/09 Frank Bernhardt And here is a bonus photo taken of my favorite locomotive on June 20, 2012, by Frank Bernhardt. Frank is a fellow Scoutmaster and geocacher from Cincinnati, Ohio.
07/16 Anonymous This week's entry was sent in anonymously. It is a view not many of us ever get to see. It is pit inspection night in Fairbanks. June 2012
07/16 Casey Durand This double rainbow photo was taken by Casey Durand from his office window on July 14, 2012.
07/23 Jonathan Fischer In my humble opinion, this is one of the best shots from my trip.  This picture of the southbound passenger train was taken on June 10, 2012.  The train was just south of Healy. Blind squirrel finds a nut.  For once, everything went right on this shot sequence.  With SUN, which was a surprise, last minute development. 
07/30 Jeff DeBroeck

It is so stinkin' hot in Dayton, Ohio right now. We have had temperatures in the upper 90's and the heat index pushed it well into the 100 degree range. So my momma used to tell me when I got really hot that I would feel better if I just think cool thoughts. Okay, let's see if it works. Hey, she's right! The photo below is making me feel cooler already. Many thanks to Jeff DeBroeck for the shot of 4008 and four of her friends chilling at Tunnel. Winter 2011

Also in the batch that Jeff sent is 4009 approaching the summit at Grandview on June 17, 2012. It is passing a MoW train in the siding including the famous ARR school bus. The International Harvester MOW hi-rail bus is used to transport crews to the work site. The back seats were removed to accommodate tools, coolers and MOW supplies. The second photo was taken seconds later and is Jeff's favorite.

08/06 Chris Nuthall

Southbound #1 from Fairbanks to Anchorage waits to cross northbound #2 at Oliver siding, just south of Denali Park, behind 1502 1506 and 1517. A loss of radio contact between the two trains required #1 to wait at Oliver for about 30 minutes rather than proceeding to the next siding. This and an accommodating conductor allowed a few shots to be taken in this very remote location. August 13, 1985

08/13 John Combs On August 15, 2012 the railroad loaded #557 onto a flat bed trailer to transport to Wasilla for restoration. In the first photo you see GP38 pulling #557 into place. Next, the track mobile tries unsuccessfully to push #557 onto the flat bed. A front loader comes up from behind and aids in pushing the heavy locomotive onto the trailer. Now #557 is ready for its trip north tomorrow!
08/20 John Combs For the past ten years or so I have had a goal to get a side view of a train crossing the Hurricane Gulch bridge. I studied topo maps and satellite images for the best access from the highway. Fortunately for me, ARRC employees Dave Blazejewski and Frank Keller figured out the access route last years and marked it with streamers. Bonus! On Saturday August 18, 2012 Dave and Frank picked me up at 0730 and took me to their special spot so I could photograph four passenger trains as they crossed the bridge. To ensure I did not mess up the shots, Dave and Frank made the correct settings on my camera. Frank also did an incredible Photoshop job afterward at home. The whole experience made me feel like I was walking among the gods. It left a lump in my throat when I finally said goodbye to them at the end of the day. I will remember this incredible experience till the day I die. (1, 2, 3, 4)
08/27 Art Chase On August 15, 2012 steam locomotive 557 arrived at the Kenai Supply building in Wasilla. At that time the building was renamed the "557 Engine House" as it will be home for the locomotive during its restoration. Unfortunately, the building was missing its main door so Art Chase came down from North Pole to provide security (as well as restoration assistance) for the locomotive. After Art tucked 557 in for the night, he snapped this picture which I have dubbed, "first night in her new home."
08/27 John Combs The voice on the other end of the phone said, "An 8,000 foot freight train will be heading out of Anchorage in half an hour. If you want photos of it, you better get out there right away." Now who was I to argue? Although I chased this monster freight from Potter Marsh to Bear Valley, this photo at Rainbow is my definitely my favorite. If you'd like to see another 132 photos from my trip then feel free to send me a friend's request on Facebook. August 22, 2012
09/03 Jeff DeBroeck What tourist doesn't desperately want to see wildlife while they are in Alaska? Well, instead of riding the rails they might want to get a job working on them as those folks sometimes get some incredible up-close views. While Jeff DeBroeck was working near a section of track he spotted a momma black bear crossing the rails (without the proper Personal Protective Equipment, I might add!). Her cubs had gotten spooked and climbed up a nearby tree. Or maybe they just wanted a better view of the next passing train? Cub foamers? (1, 2, 3)
09/10 Steve Katkus In 2004 the South Palmer Station opened at the Alaska State Fair grounds in Palmer. The new park-and-ride facility, initiated by the State Fair, included a new rail station, restrooms, handicap parking and convenient and safe drop-off traffic flow through a new fair gate. Through the years, the Fair Train has remained a popular choice for getting to the fun. No need for fighting crowds on the roadway or trying to find decent parking. 9/2/12
09/17 Casey Durand Fall comes early to Alaska and many of the deciduous trees are blazing yellow and red by Labor Day. Combine the bright yellow colors of the aspen and willow trees with the blazing red tundra plants and you have the best fall colors experience Alaska has to offer. Broad Pass is one of the lowest-elevated passes along the North American mountain system, expansive views provide travelers a top-of-the world feeling. Just south of Cantwell, Broad Pass is one of the most beautiful areas on the Parks Highway, with its broad alpine valleys and mountain peaks on either side. Better still is a passing Denali Star augmenting those beautiful fall calls. 8/29/12
09/24 Jaz As I mentioned last week, fall comes early to Alaska. Here is yet another blazing photo although this one is much closer to suburbia then last week's edition. It was taken at Westchester Lagoon on Saturday, September 22. 2012. No better way to spend a Saturday then photographing trains!
09/24 ARRC And just in case you missed them, here are three photos the Alaska Railroad Corporation released this week of the washout at MP261. (1, 2, 3)
10/01 Unverified On Tuesday (9/25/12) the Alaska Railroad resumed operation at Milepost 261 after flood waters washed out 500 feet of mainline track. This section of track is only accessible by rail and crews worked double shifts 24/7 to reconstruct the rail bed using fill material brought in from both the north and south. These photos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) show a portion of the work as well as the finished product. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee with permission to take photos and was wearing all required PPE while taking these photographs.
10/08 Rocky Grimes Under the category of "photos I wish I had taken" is Rocky Grimes fabulous shot of SD70MAC #4003 along Turnagain Arm. Rocky says of his photo, "I was out taking shots of the snow capped mountains and the train actually took me by surprise. I had pulled into the Beluga Point parking area and walked about 50 yards south to get a better perspective of the mountains and the train happened by at 10:36 AM on Saturday, September 29.   Although it's difficult to see unless you zoom in, I even got a wave!  Always a treat.  It still brings the little kid out in me when I see the train go by.  My wife and I usually give passengers a good moose wave although this one was carrying coal. It was snowing about an hour prior to this." Check out more of Rocky's photos at rockygrimesphotography.com
10/15 Dave Schneider

Dave Schneider works for the US Geological Survey and occasionally travels via helicopters out of Merrill Field to do work in the field. This detailed aerial photo was taken on the way back to town in 2006.

In July 2012, Dave was hosting a friend from Canada and together they took a train trip from Seward to Anchorage. Dave took this almost surreal photo of their passenger train as it crawled its way through one of five tunnels.

10/22 Jeff DeBroeck

Asbestos removal was completed on #557! (1, 2) "Oh...I feel so naked!", quips photographer Jeff DeBroeck. 10/19/12

Engine 557 was turned over to the professional crew from Central Environmental Services for abatement. The entire end of the building was encapsulated to maintain a negative air pressure space enclosing the locomotive. The old jacket pieces were cleaned and set aside as patterns to be replicated. This major labor intensive project was done as an in-kind donation by Central Environmental Services, the solutions people!

10/29 Tim Coahran Locomotive engineer Tim Coahran shared two photos from August 2008 for this week's entry. "I caught a cool work train one day.  Up in the Healy canyon.  Slightly before they outlawed cameras.  Note that BOTH machines were busy loading my 'air dumps!'" And the second one - "Climbing southbound to dump into an erosion site." August 2008
11/05 Chris Paulhamus A charter train for transportation specialists from across the United States runs south in the waning early evening sunlight for Girdwood. If you look closely, you can see some of the passengers on the rear vestibule checking out the scenery. Milepost 99, October 23, 2012.
11/12 Tom Koole

How about some model railroading photos this week!

"I bought this toy at the Dayton train show 3-4 years ago for around two dollars. I added ARR decals, a beacon, hi-rail wheels from the junk box, and a coat of flat paint," says n-scale modeler Tom Koole. In case you are wondering if one of these actually exist just click here.

11/12 Drew Horne Pretty much everything on Drew's HO-scale layout was built by hand. For more pictures of his layout check him out on Facebook at drew.horne.71.
11/12 Terry Combs Alaska Railroad railfan Robert Krol bought this set for me as a gift. After I got home from Alaska I sent him this photo. He said it looked like a Picture of the Week to him
11/19 Sherman Stebbins The $190 million bridge at Salcha will span a 3,300-foot section of the Tanana River, marking the first phase of a four-phase project that planners hope will eventually bring a new rail line to Delta Junction. Says Sherman Stebbins of his photos, "A lot got done on the bridge this summer! The photos I took were from an altitude of about 3,000 feet. I flew with my friend Jesse Cummings from 'Golden Eagle Outfitters' here in Delta Junction. We made a complete circle around the project to take pictures. We did not want to fly to low to seem a threat. The bridge is also on the southern edge of airspace of Eilson Air Force base so didn't want to malinger to long."
11/26 Unknown I bought this slide from eBay about two months ago. I had never heard of #304 before and was pretty darned excited about finding this one plus winning the bid. All that was written on the slide's border was, "ARR 304, 1h 3/4 Jonesville May 31, 1969." Fortunately, Alaska Railroad historian Don Marenzi was able to provide more details for this unit. "The photo shows the carbody of railbus trailer #304 that had been used as a building at the Evan Jones Coal Co. mine. When EJ Coal closed, there was an auction of all their assets. The Alaska-Yukon Chapter of the NRHS acquired the carbody. It was moved to their original museum site near the Anchorage airport.  When the museum was later moved to the fairgrounds in Palmer, this carbody was scrapped. There was a similar photo and story in one of the old Moose-Gooser issues when the carbody was acquired. [Click here to view this issue.] Trailer 304 started life as ARR railbus #M-107 and later rebuilt to an unpowered trailer."
12/03 Chris Paulhamus "I have absolutely no issue waiting 45 minutes in 0°F temps to capture a scene like this! ARR 4006 glides across a frozen Trail Lake on its way to Seward. See video of this scene here! Learn more about Alaska Railroad railfanning here." 11/24/12
12/10 Unknown No. 331 is an 0-6-0 built by Lima Loco for the US Army (#4068) in 1944. It was transferred to the ARR in 1946-47, retired in 1956 and scrapped soon thereafter. I purchased this photo negative recently from eBay as part of an effort to post a photo of every locomotive that ran on the Alaska Railroad. If there is anyone out there who can provide a digital image of any of the missing units it would make a great Christmas present for me! Here is the list of photos I am missing.
12/17 Dave Blazejewski Welcome to Whittier! It isn't nice very often in Whittier. In fact, the town features some of the worst weather in Alaska with a normal winter seeing over 420 inches of snow! Known for routine 60 MPH winds with snow and rain blowing sideways a local saying goes: "Weather is here, wish you were beautiful!" But, when it is nice it is beautiful beyond the power of language. Here we see two of the last three GP40-2s to wear their 1975 as delivered black and yellow paint crossing the wooden trestle over Whittier Creek with the second cut of their 6015 ft inbound train. The strange little town squeezed hard between the waters of Prince William Sound and the Coastal Ranges is accessible only by boat of the 2.5 mile long shared access rail/vehicle Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel Whittier is the ARR's main port for shipment of containers which arrive via barge stacked in racks above the main deck which contains 8 tracks for interchange of railcars to the BNSF & UP in Seattle. Click here to read a bit more about the history of this unique and fascinating Alaskan community. Note: the photographer is a railroad employee with permission to be on the property and was wearing all required PPE while taking this photograph. March 9, 2011
12/24 Mark Earnest collection The Alaska Railroad used several boxcars as billboards.  They were placed by the Anchorage depot in early 1981 and were pulled out sometime between 1986 and 1991. This photo was taken on August 12, 1985. You'll find a photo of a similar boxcar here.
12/31 John Combs

I spent part of the holiday season working on my 2012 Alaska Railroad trip photo journal. With a little luck I should have it finished by the end of January. In the meantime, here is one of my favorite photos from the trip. This was taken at the new Kashwitna gravel pit owned by Quality Asphalt Paving (QAP) which went operational on June 12. It boasts one of the longest sidings on the railroad at 10,519 feet and can accommodate 100-car trains. QAP estimates an output of one million tons per year as well as 50 years of service from the reserves. Operational efficiencies as well as using distributed power locomotives make it possible for a round-trip consist between Mat-Su Valley and Anchorage within 12 hours.

The photo was taken from the tipple loading area with the front of the train behind us. To decrease turn-around time front loaders are used at each end of the train to supplement loading. The QAP employee at the bottom of the photo is ensuring the bottom discharge chutes are properly secured. 8/21/12


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