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 | 2013 | 2014

2015 Pictures of the Week
01/05 Steven J. Brown

Anchorage To Whittier train for cruise boat passengers. July 2, 1992, Rainbow. Click here for more information on the ex-Southern Pacific bi-level commuter railcars.

01/12 Chris Paulhamus After running an hour and a half beyond the sight of human eyes, ARR 4327 reappears to civilization as it crosses Upper Trail Lake in the town of Moose Pass. This train is bound for the port at Seward where its coal will be offloaded and shipped to a foreign customer. March 8, 2014
01/19 Frank Keller An Alaska Railroad ballast train negotiates the south leg of the Wye at Portage, having just cleared the mainline for a southbound passenger train. Their chore for the day will be to spread ballast at Spencer before tying up for the night at Crown Point. Notice this train still operates with a caboose. May 19, 2013
01/26 Mike Gerenday Mike Gerenday says of his photos, "The last two days, Old Man Winter said hello to Alaska, dumping over a foot in the Northern Susitna Valley. Here 4323 Northbound Passenger laughs at the snow as she pulls into the town of Talkeetna. The train also was pulling freight behind the passenger cars. Taken on 1/24/15."
02/02 Markus Gmür The GPs at left were switching the barge and needed a bit of headroom to complete their move so they contacted the passenger train to see if they could pull up a car or two since these tracks are all located in yard limits. This practice is acceptable as long as they do not exceed restricted speed. GCORP 6.27 The photo was taken from the 12th floor of the cruise ship 'Island Princess' a few minutes before 6:00 AM on July 25, 2012.
02/09 Steven Mckay The sun has just set as the Coastal Classic does it's best to catch back up to it before Anchorage. August 30, 2014
02/16 Nick McLean There can't be too many places on earth where you can see glaciers from the comfort of your passenger car. The passengers on this southbound Coastal Classic scramble to get their photos of the Bartlett Glacier under an eerie morning cloud cover. The power on the head end is working hard pulling the 12 car train up a 3% grade around a sharp horseshoe curve at this location. September 6, 2014
02/23 Andrew J. Clark

Andrew J. Clark began working for the Alaska Railroad in 1947. He began working in the radio lab in 1948 and eventually was the head of the communications department. The communications department's area of expertise encompassed everything from the crossing signals, telephone system, teletype system, microwave communication, etc. Some of these systems were utilized by the State of Alaska, Alaska Communication System (ACS) and even the (DOD) Department of Defense.

One of the pieces of equipment they purchased was a Nodwell. One of the uses of this equipment was to set and re-set telephone poles within the communication system the railroad operated. This photo taken at Portage shows the first day of use on the delivery day of the Nodwell. Click here to view more photos from Andrew's career.

03/02 Frank Keller A late running south freight rolls under the Old Glen Highway near Matanuska Junction. Not often at this time of year do you get an opportunity to catch the south freight in daylight hours. Chalk up to luck. 2/26/15
03/09 Joseph Blackwell Alaska Railroad northbound empty coal train with freight on head end picked up both in Seward and Portage along the Turnagain Arm near Rainbow. June 1994
03/16 Markus Gmür A lot of happy tourists at the rear of the Northbound Denali Star. We are standing on the open deck in the double-deck car of the Southbound Denali Star. In the middle of nowhere, 7/29/12.
03/23 Terry Douglas Today (March 7, 2015) while downtown having a look at the Iditarod start, I noticed that the ARRC had a full consist of what I refer to as the "Cruise Train" (plus the Aurora car), and a couple of SD70MAC's sitting at the depot, and obviously preparing for a trip (judging by the catering stuff they were loading aboard). I made a discreet inquiry, and found it was a charter scheduled for a round trip to Indian. So I set off down Turnagain Arm to see if I could get a shot. I will leave you to judge if the results are worthwhile. Photo taken at Windy.
03/30 Moe Edell Most Alaska Railroad railfans will cheer when they discover double stacks are now travelling from Whittier to Anchorage and Fairbanks. The railroad has been working for years to daylight tunnels to accommodate these special trains. Okay, you got me! This is just an April Fool's joke. Or maybe a glimpse into the future?
04/06 Mike Criss Mike Criss says of his photo, "Came across a film crew on the side of the road in Broad Pass today. This is what they were waiting for. (1, 2) " 4/2/15
04/13 Frank Keller Currently there are several locations on the Alaska Railroad where overpasses are being built, including a fairly lengthy one in South Anchorage. The bridge beams were built in the lower 48 at a length of 159' the longest that could be accommodated by the barge. From what I understand the beams will still need to be lengthened about 50' once they get here. I was told these bridge beams are the longest loads hauled on the Alaska Railroad.
04/20 Frank Keller Two GP40-2s hustle 14 loads of much needed fuel to Seward. When possible the Alaska Railroad will make a special run to accommodate shippers in need of a delivery. In the background is an unusual horizontal rainbow.
04/27 Steven Mckay On a cool late summer night the 4013 under goes some work inside the large ARR shops in Anchorage. 9/1/14
05/04 Frank Keller Frank Keller says of his photo, “During last years gravel season the balloon track was removed at the Palmer load-out making it necessary for the crews to make a long back up move, so the RR re-instated one of the three remaining cabooses. This year, however, they decided to put into use this shoving platform.” The Connaboose name comes from its foundation (an intermodal container) and its function (a caboose). 4/11/15
05/11 Brian Jansky I've been doing a weekly Picture of the Week for over 18 years now. For those of you who have been following these posts you might have gotten the impression that anybody can just go out, stand by the rail for a half hour or so and snap a great photo. This is typically not the case. Where are the great photo spots? What is the schedule for the train? What is the best time of day/weather to get a properly lit photo? Will I have to battle bugs or bears? A photo can take quite a bit of planning. This week's submission is from Brian Jansky who happened to be in Anchorage for the week for work (4/14 - 4/18) and had the evenings and all day Saturday to do a bit of railfanning. He basically was railfanning by the seat of his pants. This can be thrilling, but equally frustrating. Know what I mean, Brian?!? Here is his photo of the northbound Aurora Winter Train crossing Ship Creek in Anchorage on the morning of April 1, 2015. This was taken from the Ship Creek Trail's bridge over the passenger main. I'd say he did a mighty fine job!
05/18 Casey Durand Casey Durand just happened to be in Whittier while a work crew was rebuilding the rail bridge as well as re-laying rail in the Whittier tunnel. He grabbed many more pix as well: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 4/24/15
05/25 Curt Fortenberry Curt Fortenberry says of his photo, "I got lucky yesterday [4/26/15], caught an empty coal train coming back from Eielson yesterday.  Not a very photogenic spot, MP12 sign visible (so between North Pole and Ft. Wainwright).  Easy line to chase with patience, since it's 10mph."
06/01 Brian Piltz "I took these photos (1, 2) at Moose Pass on May 3, 2015. I was standing just north of the intersection of Highway 9 and Depot Road in the dirt pullout on east side of Highway 9. It was about 9 am.  The train was parked on the tracks.  It looked to be all engines, no cars." - Brian Piltz
06/08 Pete Mejia SD70MAC #4011 on the AS&G gravel train. 6/4/15
06/15 Curt Fortenberry

Curt Fortenberry says of his photos (1, 2, 3), "They had these parked by the road this weekend to fill them up.  The lettering is reflective, as are the stripes of course.  Cute decal." 5/4/15

From my tank car section - Tank cars can also be used for fire suppression. As it turns out, the railroad owns nine of these. They were old 9300-series revenue tanks that had expired on their hazmat certification and couldn't be used to haul fuel anymore. They were going to be scrapped, but instead a deal was made with the state DEC and the US Forest Service to rehab nine of them for water service. They were steam cleaned, restencilled and given those pretty new logos. They are filled with water here in Anchorage in the spring and distributed around the railroad to be available in an emergency should there be a wildfire. From south to north they are positioned as follows: Two at Moose Pass, Two at Talkeetna, One at Hurricane, Two at Healy, and Two at Clear Site.

06/22 Terry Douglas

Terry Douglas says of his photos - Here are a few shots of the Hurricane turn in mid May. I made a point of traveling on it on the first weekend.

1. GP40-2 3010 in the spring sunshine.
2. P-31 likewise, with the Dome car in View:
3. The train sitting at Twin bridges for some time, because we were early!
4 and 5. Nice pics of a Black Bear were also taken on that trip.

06/29 Jonathan Fischer "Here is a shot from my August 1993 trip. It was taken in Anchorage. The load appears to be military vehicles heading for the srcapper."
07/06 Shane Durand "Here is a photo of Tank Car 9300 going to scrap. We loaded it at Flint Hills in early April 2015. It had been on the ground out there for awhile."
07/13 Casey Durand "Here are two photos (1, 2) of flat car loads of utility poles. Most of these pole cars are 92 or 94 foot. These two have loads that overhang one end."
07/20 John Zebutis John Zebutis says of his photo, "I've visited your website a few times in the past, and was doing so again tonight, when I thought you might enjoy a couple pictures I took earlier this week. A couple friends and myself were doing a packrafting trip down the Chulitna River a few days ago when we took an "adult refreshment" break after a gnarly section of river. Couldn't have been more fortuitous in our timing or location of our rest stop, up the Chulitna Canyon from the Hurricane Gulch bridge, when sure enough the train appeared, slowing down for the hundreds of tourists to take pictures of where WE were, and giving us a rare view of the train from the bottom of the canyon. My rafting camera doesn't have particularly good zoom, but I hope you enjoy nonetheless." 7/6/15
07/20 Richard J. King "I took this photo of the northbound Denali Star today, about four miles north of the Denali Station.  Just a side note.... Windy Bridge cannot be accessed by pedestrian. There are signs on either side telling you not to walk out onto the bridge. Furthermore, the construction through this section makes any thought of stopping fade fast. " 7/8/15
07/27 Jonathan Fischer Terry and I took an absolutely incredible trip through Washington and Oregon on July 1-15. On the last day, a mere four hours before we caught a flight home, Jonathan Fischer picked us up and took us for a brief visit to the Alaska Railroad's docks in Seattle. For the past 18 years I have dreamed of visiting Pier 15 1/2 and was thrilled to have finally made the pilgrimage. I took several photos, but the results resembled dog droppings. Therefore, I'll just use the stellar shot Jonathan took earlier this year. Some day I hope to return and watch the loading and unloading of a barge.
08/03 Jaz The Chugach Explorer (1, 2) is head end leading the way into the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel with GP #3011 doing all the work. June 2015
08/10 Robert Krol

Robert Krol's stunning photo was taken in the Port of Whittier on July 4, 2015. What does this have to do with the Alaska Railroad? Cruise ship passengers can opt for a side excursion on the Alaska Railroad and the passenger terminal is their jumping off point. The $10 million cruise ship passenger terminal and dock in Whittier opened May 15, 2004. Cruise ships quit coming to Whittier in 1993 after the City Council imposed a $1-per-passenger head tax. In April 2003, the council rescinded the tax and Princess executives moved their northern destination port from Seward to Whittier. The terminal is designed to handle more than 2,000 passengers that will come on each voyage. The town is guaranteed to get $250,000 a year in leases and taxes. Since Whittier is closer to Anchorage than Seward, Princess will be able to cut down on travel time for passengers and for the company itself.

So you still want to see some trains, eh? Okay, okay, okay! Check out Robert's July 2015 photo featuring three Alaska Railroad paint schemes. The Canadian rail barge freight is seen in the background.

08/17 Dave Blazejewski

Dave Blazejewski says of his photo, "Here is a rare move into our [Crowley] rack (the old Chevron spurs). Special move of 6 loaded cars of Avgas 100LL. July 28 at 2 pm."

"1:51 AM on June 19th almost the longest day of the year. These were all just crappy camera phone pics but on a 16mb camera."

08/24 Nancy Stewart

GP40 #3015 was my first Alaska Railroad locomotive and will always be my favorite. She was the locomotive that took my wife and I from Anchorage to Denali National Park and back in June of 1986. Each time I visit Alaska she always stops by to say hello. So I just could not resist posting Nancy Stewart's photo of GP40 #3015 pulling a southbound passenger train along Turnagain Arm, August 18, 2015

Haven't had enough of Nancy's photos, eh? Here's one of GP40 #3007 with the Chugach Explorer on the tail end, August 2015. Check out more of Nancy's photos at http://nancystewart.zenfolio.com/p416980973.

08/31 Jonathan Fischer

Jonathan Fischer says of his photos, "For the last couple years I've tried to find different locations from which to photograph the Mears Bridge. The native cemetery on the north side of the river is an interesting spot to try for a photo. The ever vigorous vegetation will squeeze this spot out in another year or so. ARR 4002 is approaching the south end of the bridge a little after 6PM on August 21,2015. This is about as good as it’s going to get from this spot. The native cemetery (1, 2, 3) is a very interesting place in its own right.?"

[Webmaster's note: Spectacular!]

09/07 Dave Blazejewski Some of us got it and some of us don't. Dave Blazejewski has definitely got it. This photo was so fine that I didn't want to mar it anywhere with a copyright mark. I reluctantly settled for the upper right corner. Dave snagged this photo of the southbound Denali Star at MP 145. The smooth water reflection is absolutely startling.
09/15 Michael William Sullivan A pair of door panels rest in the inspection pits of the Heavy Repair shop at Anchorage. The doors belong to the 4327 which is currently undergoing a prime mover swap. Sitting on the track up ahead is another MAC in the house for light repairs. 9/9/15
09/21 Mike Gerenday Mike Gerenday was surprised to catch FRA DOTW-219 (1, 2, 3, 4) in Seward on September 14. The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety uses this unit to check track geometry such as gage, alignment and track surface. This effort helps to reduce the possibility of track derailments. For those of you who are keenly observant you've already taken notice that GP40 #3015 photobombed the final photo of this series. Bonus!
09/28 Dave Blazejewski These two photos (1, 2), taken on the same day (9/21/15), reveal the diversity of seasons throughout Alaska. The hills were on fire for the southbound Aurora just north of Eklutna (running 45 minutes late) while the northbound Blues Train at Girdwood is only beginning to detect the change of colors .
10/05 Jonathan Fischer Here's ARR 1506 leading a northbound freight from Seward through fresh snow, as seen from the grade crossing in Girdwood in March of 1986. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
10/12 Frank Keller The company work train is about to cross the Parks Highway just about a mile or two south of Hurricane where they will tie up for the night. They train is moving material for the overpass that is being built at Broad Pass. When finished the Parks Highway will cross over the main at Broad Pass eliminating a grade crossing that has been troublesome for motorist in the past. 3/31/15
10/19 Robert Krol Robert Krol just wrapped up working another passenger season, but not before making a stop in Seward and catching my all time favorite Alaska Railroad locomotive #3015. If you look beyond #3015, although I don't know why you'd want to, you can spot a small section of the blue apparatus used to scoop coal onto awaiting freighters. The second photo shows #3015 from the passenger car perspective. The third photo is a nice trifecta showing the Zaandam cruise ship, Dale R. Lindsey Alaska Railroad Seward Intermodal and an eye catching Holland-America tour bus. 9/13/15
10/26 Dave Blazejewski Dave Blazejewski says of his photo, "The Alaska Railroad takes you right to the Fair. This shot was taken last Friday evening as the Fair Train pulls into the South Palmer depot casting a warm glow from its headlight on the passengers waiting on the platform. Overhead the fireworks light the Alaskan sky." Dave's second photos shows the Fair Train trundling down the Palmer Branch. 9/4/15
11/02 Jonathan Fischer Here’s ARR 3009 leading the Glacier Discovery northbound through Potter at sunset on August 22, 2015.
11/09 Mike Criss Happiness is a smattering of Mike Criss Alaska Railroad photos! (1, 2, 3, 4)
11/16 Frank Keller Sooner or later it was bound to happen. The remaining three GP40-2s in original paint were assigned as the sole power to the company work train. Unfortunately they departed Anchorage with just two cars headed to Birchwood where they would pick up the rest of their train before returning to Anchorage to continue dumping ballast on the APU Spur. I was able to grab a couple of shots before having to head to work. This same power was assigned to the Whittier train the next day but operated under the cover of darkness in both directions. Hopefully this will be repeated......someday. Number 1 engineer on Alaska Railroad's seniority roster, Frank Sheppard, was at the controls. 10/27/15
11/23 Mike Gerenday Mike Gerenday says of his photo, "Numbers 4323, 4327, and the 4318 cross Trail River on a warm sunny July day. Usually one MAC and a Geep are the power for the Coastal Classic, but because the McKinley Express needed to swap locos and there were no freights at the time, they put a second MAC on for the extra weight. As the train rolled by, I noticed the 4318 was dead in tow." July 2015
11/30 Mike Gerenday

On Wednesday morning November 25 a southbound freight train was caught in a snow slide north of Talkeetna. Thankfully there were no injuries or derailment. Mike Gerenday was able to get photos of the returning locomotives on Thanksgiving morning. Here is Mike's photo report:

1. No. 4011 rests in Talkeetna after enduring a snowslide at MP 246.7, south of Curry.
2. Number 3007 with #3010 with spreaders in Talkeetna siding.
3. No. 4011 is covered in snow.
4. In a quiet, almost eerie scene from an old railroad picture, Jordan spreader number 8 brings up the rear of snow fleet, after battling the heavy snows before Thanksgiving, north of Talkeetna.
5. After the battle. No. 4011 and two sisters are resting after running into a snowslide. No. 3007 is part of the snow fleet that came to the stricken train's aid. It almost looks like No. 4011 is saying ''Thank you".

All photos were taken on 11/26/15 at 6 am.

12/07 Dave Blazejewski

So many wonderful things have come out of creating and maintaining this website. One of them is living vicariously through the lives of others. Even if I lived in Alaska there is just no way I see, feel and experience everything this great state has to offer. As I tell many of my Alaskan friends, "You are living the dream!" To this end I offer up a smattering of Dave Blazejewski's fabulous November 29 photo romp. This is definitely a foamer's delight!

Got snow? The Hurricane section house has more than enough.

Snowfleet at Hurricane (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

MP 281.5

Southbound mini 2-car make up Aurora at Summit

Rare daylight southbound freight at Riley Creek trestle

"I put on snowshoes to get this one looking down on Honolulu. It was waist deep even where not plowed!"

Southbound freight after subset blasting through Cantwell.

Last light at Cantwell. 1/8 second to get the motion blur with the approaching DP units.

12/14 Dave Blazejewski The ARR is running six sold out Holiday Trains this winter. The 2 1/2 hour leisurely round trips between Anchorage and Indian afford guests the chance to ride the rails with Santa and his elves and enjoy some good holiday merriment amidst the backdrop of an Alaskan winter wonderland. The first shot looks south at the rear of the train (operating in pull-pull mode) from the new Dowling Road extension overpass. (2, 3) 12/5/15
12/21 Dave Blazejewski The Alaska Railroad Holiday Train (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) on 12/19/15 at 10:00 AM. Dave's wonderful photo series reminds us that despite the chaos of the holidays there is still peace, beauty and tranquality found in all of nature.....and trains.
12/27 Dave Blazejewski This is the southbound winter Aurora, with a slightly expanded six car consist as the sun sets over upper Cook Inlet. On this day sunset was at 8:11 PM, which made for perfect timing with the train having arrived with but 20 minutes to spare having just arrived from Fairbanks at the conclusion of its once weekly journey. A baggage handler goes to work in a forklift unloading the baggage car. 3/18/12


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