Grandview is a pass through the Kenai Mountains. Originally, it was a road house for railroad workers. Alaska Nellie, a legendary Alaskan character, was awarded the contract to manage a four-room building at "Mile 45" for the Alaska Engineering Commission (the organization responsible for the construction of the government railroad in Alaska). To government employees she provided meals for fifty cents and a bed and bedding for a dollar per night. In her autobiography "Alaska Nellie" she states, "Grandview seemed the most appropriate name to me for Mile 45. Being without paint with which to paint a sign, I found an old blue coat, which I washed and pressed, cut letters for the sign from it and sewed them to a strip of while oilcloth. This pennant was tacked to the front porch in front of the house. Mile 45 was now Grandview."
Grandview is also the destination of the annual Ski Train, the popular event sponsored by the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage. Partly a ski outing and partly a rolling party - complete with beer and a polka band - the ski train has long been a spring tradition in Alaska.
A special event took place at Grandview in February, 1998. As part of the Celebrity Sports Invitational, a biannual event that has stars competing in various athletic competitions for charity, 30 celebrities and their families rode the Alaska Railroad to Grandview. Among the special guest were Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Robin Leach, William Shatner, Pierce Bronson, Jay Thomas, Linda Blair, Jim Belushi, Shari Belafonte, Mimi Rogers and John Ratzenberger. The thirteen cars used to transport the celebrities received a through going over to give them an extra touch of class. Once at their destination, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling were enjoyed by all.
Grandview poses a challenge to the Alaska
Railroad. To climb the steep grade to Grandview, coal trains are normally
split in two at Spencer or Tunnel. For example, a coal consist of 66 cars
(weighing nearly 8,600 tons) would leave 33 cars at Tunnel and take 33 to Grandview.
It would then return and repeat the trip with the remaining 33 cars. When
snows are particularly heavy, a consist may be cut into fourths and taken up
a section at a time. In January 31, 1998, an
avalanche swept through a slide zone just north of Grandview overturning
a section of loaded coal cars and closing the rail route to Seward. When the
Alaska Railroad purchased new SD70MAC locomotives in 2000, they began used distributed
processing to enable them to bring the coal over the steep grade in a single
Page was created 12/1/99 and last updated 8/3/05