History on Display in Anchorage
by Patrick J. Durand
The Anchorage Museum of History and Art opened THE ALASKA RAILROAD in the atrium of the museum on April 23, 2006 and it will run until October 1, 2006. I had the privilege of working with the Museum staff while preparing this exhibit Kathleen Hertel, Walter A. Van Horn and Dave Nicholls took a challenging subject and illuminated the history of the Alaska Railroad with great images and informative text. The story is spiced with artifacts from the railroads past, many on loan from the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, Inc. in Wasilla.
Starting with the Local Passenger Boarding sign you enter the exhibit with the ORIGINS OF THE RAILROAD. The Alaska Northern on the southern end and the Tanana Valley Railroad in the north are noted. Then you depart North from Seward on a Mile Post retrospective that includes images of section houses all along the line related to sections of the railroad strip map. Major historical events and developments in each area are featured section by section concluding in Fairbanks. The final panel features The Alaska Railroad Corporation of today and well deserved acknowledgments for those responsible for the exhibit which was funded by The Alaska Railroad Corp.
Museum docents have received an orientation on History of the Alaska Railroad along with reference tools arranged by Paul H. Perry, Museum Education Director. Paul also invited Marty and Agnes Quaas and their Mooselip HO Railroad to entertain and inform families attending the reception. Expect to see more railroad related special events associated with the exhibit.
When in Anchorage do take in this exhibit and while there visit the main history gallery up stairs where Max Corey's rendition of the Anchorage Shops of 1923 is still a show stopper. I encourage you to seriously consider membership in both the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, in Wasilla. If not rail fans, who will see to the preservation of our rail artifacts and history?
Here are a few images of the opening reception.