Video Title:  "The Alaska Railroad"
Produced: Produced in 1998 by Alaska Video Publishing
Length:  35 minutes
Reviewer: Paul S. Highland

This show covers the route of the Alaska Railroad from Seward to Fairbanks, Alaska, with a number of stops in between.  It's done in a travelogue style, and does not concentrate on motive power or rolling stock.  Some history of the line is given, accompanied by old black -and- white photographs and film clips.  Some modern scenes of trains and landscapes are also provided.  A map of the line is traced as the journey progresses.

Various points along the route featured:

  • Seward:  sea lions, whales, and seabirds; the Alaska Sea Life Center, a new aquarium; Resurrection Bay Galerie, with some nice paintings, sculptures, and carvings; the Chugach Heritage Center, housed in the old depot, featuring native performances; a nearby glacier.
  • North out of Seward:  views from the train; Grand View ski slope; the branch line to Whittier; along Turnagain Arm; Potter Marsh; a section house; a museum; Chugach State Park office. Anchorage, Alaska's largest city:  a festival in February, with a carnival and dogsled races; the Iditarod race in March; Charlie's Alaska Trains store; the Railway Brewing Company; in the railroad depot; Alaska Railroad headquarters; dining, dome, and private cars; the port of Anchorage; Elmendorf Air Force Base.
  • Palmer:  farms; the Alaska State Fair; a reindeer farm, where petting is allowed.
  • Wasilla:  lakes; the Mushers Museum; more on the Iditarod.
  • Talkeetna:  the rustic downtown; the Fairview Inn, a pub; a gift shop and art gallery; the Northern Adventure Museum.
  • Mount McKinley, highest point in the U.S. (20,320 feet); motorboat and airplane service; a man tells how his pet rooster saved him from being attacked by a grizzly bear; high bridges across the Susitna and other rivers; a train meet where passengers mug the ones in the other train; along the Nenana River.
  • Denali National Park:  scenes of landscapes and wildlife; bus tours; the Denali Park depot.  Mining at Healy; the town of Nenana.
  • Fairbanks:  panning for gold; a jewelry store and assay office, where prospectors can get cash for their gold or have it made into jewelry; a bed -and- breakfast inn; a mining cookhouse.  The town of North Pole, featuring the Santa Claus House, a Christmas store.  Some closing scenes from aboard a coach and along the tracks.



    I was rather disappointed that this show had so few shots of the trains themselves; it seems to be aimed at a more general audience interested in a possible trip to Alaska, as opposed to hardcore railfans.  (Alaska GPs 2008, 2801, 3009, 3013, and 3014 are easily identified.)  But the views of scenery and destinations along the route do give a pretty decent idea of what to expect along the way.  If you're a train freak, you probably won't want to bother with this production of "The Alaska Railroad," but if you want some ideas on an Alaska getaway, this video should prove at least somewhat helpful.