As you head out the spur (railroad north)
from the mainline connection you come to the facing point switch for Alaska
Mill and Feed first just after crossing Post Road and making a sharp left hand
curve. They take one car of feed at a time (though two will fit) and move them
around themselves. Most of the cars are foreign, though one of the blue and
yellow ARR covered hoppers (the ARR 14101) cycles back and forth from elevators
in Washington or Oregon (the last couple of trips it went to a town called Clarke,
OR on the UP). Next, after crossing Orca St. you come to the trailing point
switch for the AK Mill and Feed fertilizer spur. Again, most of the cars are
foreign, though the only other blue and yellow ARR hopper (the 14100)
is also used in this service. The last couple of trips this car was loaded with
lime at a place called J.A. Jack & Sons in Seattle on the UP.
Next you come to Weaver Brothers. This is just a trucking lot right next to the tracks. What is interesting about this is that there is a small two foot wide section of rail that they unbolt to fit their auger under when they have a covered hopper to unload. Weaver Brothers is a heavy haul trucker and they unload bulk products there. They've handled animal fats and vegetable oils in tank cars and other powdered materials in hoppers in the past. The only current cars we have online for them are loaded with Magnesium Chloride.
After that you come to a facing point switch for the spur into AS&G/Katmai. This is an old legacy name and the actual shipper that loads here is Phillips Environmental. They've loaded boxcars for shipment to the lower 48 and gondolas of contaminated soils and other waste. For example, the ATW 60091 is on it's way south consigned to Waste Management in Seattle on the UP and the BN 580433 is going to Morgan City, LA via the UP full of low level radioactive waste.
After that, there are no more sidings that are active, although at least three more switches exist that are spiked and out of service and just trail off into the weeds alongside long disused loading docks. After climbing a steep grade the track curves sharply to the left around the corner of a warehouse and crosses Sitka St. Here in the reverse curve are two more customers. First we spot cars at Bobs Services Inc. They do not ship or receive anything, but rather do contract railcar repair for the railroad. They have done stand modification work on the ARR 191-series articulated flat cars and retrofitted handbrakes on the 129-series flatcars. Presently they are working on some redecking work on the 17000-series chain equipped flats. Bob's yard and building is on the right side of the tracks. Directly across on the left side is the compact scrap yard and offices of Central Environmental Inc. (CEI). They receive inbound loaded gondolas (mostly captive ARR system cars) of scrap for sorting and processing and also receive empty foreign gondolas for loading processed scrap to ship the lower 48. They also receive retired ARR equipment for scrapping (right now the 10240--one of the last cars with the old McKinley park logo--is there to be cut up).
Lastly, behind everybody else is Emerald Services. They load tank cars with hazardous waste and receive bulk chemicals inbound. Mostly their cars just sit and are slowly filled up, but every month or so they will need a switch in or out. Right now the SGAX 1071 is billed out full of anti-freeze heading to Seattle for interchange to the BNSF and then on to Tacoma. Also, the last two ARR owned revenue tank cars (ARR 9315 & 9318) are sometimes used for Emerald business. Right now the ARR 9315 is on spot loaded with methanol shipped out of Tacoma via a TMBL/BNSF routing.
What is really a challenge, though, is that if you have to switch out an Emerald car depending on what else is on spot you might have to switch through cars on spot for Weaver, BSI, & CEI! To make it worse, the only place you have to make a switch to reverse the order of cars is the Katmai spur. If it is occupied or out of service for some reason you would have to run all the way back out to the mainline (over a mile) to line up your cars and then shove them all the way back where they belong. All in all this spur is a railroader's nightmare but a photographer and modeler's dream!
Images provided by Dave Schneider
Page created 12/28/10 and last updated 1/18/13
© 2010-2013 by John Combs