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 | 2016
|01/02||Jon Bentz||A sad collection of Alaska F units at Union Pacific's Argo yard making the rail barge trip down from Alaska. The line-up is F7B #1517, F7A #1512, F7A #1506, F7A #1510, Power Car #P4, F7A #1508 and F7B #1505. 11/17/86. Some of these units were scrapped while others took on new lives with other railroads.|
A special for Norwegian Cruise Lines crosses the Trail River on its journey to Seward and an awaiting cruise ship. Crown Point. 8/29/16
Webmaster's note: Pay no attention to the fact that #3015 is my all time favorite locomotive.
|01/16||Frank Keller||The northbound winter Aurora crosses Riley Creek Trestle on a late winters day. I have always loved this particular location on the Alaska Railroad. 1/5/17|
The Alaska Railroad has no physical connection to the rest of the North American rail network. But that doesn't prevent them from having a robust interchange. The ARR owns a service and interchanges weekly with the BNSF and UP in Seattle via barges owned and operated under contract by Alaska Marine Lines.
The barge pictured here is the Aqua Train (blt 1982) and is owned and operated by Foss Maritime under contract to CN. Whittier is the designated interchange point and once loaded on the barge this is a CN "train." Currently the AquaTtrain makes two round trips per month between Prince Rupert and Whittier.
This unique drones eye down on view shows the 8 track layout that tapers to 6 on one end with two switches on the deck. This is to accommodate the layout of the slip in Prince Rupert which does not allow the barge to move two four positions like they can here (the AML barges are 8 straight tracks and the barge is shifted side to side to line up with the two track slip). This barge is loaded completely to the gills with 45 cars of southbound interchange. Lashed to her bow on the port side is the 118.7 ft long Justine Foss, a 4300 hp tug built in 1976. 11/23/16
Caboose no. 1093 sitting at Portage on a day chilly. 1/10/17
The Alaska Railroad owns three cabooses. Caboose 1092 is sitting on coach track 2 needing a wheel change. Number 1093 serves as a tool car for B&B #6. It has been sitting at Portage since September and will eventually head to Whittier. Number 1069 is now the ARR 901069 and is in use for Maintenance of Way. In 2015 the railroad also created a shoving platform. The Connaboose name comes from its foundation (an intermodal container) and its function (a caboose).
|02/06||Frank Keller||The morning sun has yet to clear the Chugach Mountains but is destined to do so. In the meantime the rising sun bathes Mt. Susitna in the pink hues if Alpenglow.|
|02/13||Mike Criss||The northbound Aurora near Talkeetna taken by the DJI Mavic drone. If you are on Facebook click here to view his video. 2/4/17|
|02/20||Dave Blazejewski||The 3:00 PM edition of the Valentine Special train in a cold, windy, but glorious Saturday afternoon along Turnagain Arm between Anchorage and Indian. These holiday type trains have been very popular on the Alaska Railroad with every train starting with the Halloween train being a sellout. 2/12/17|
|02/27||Mike Criss||The Aurora, the Alaska Railroad's weekly wintertime train, crosses the Knik River on a brisk 28 degree morning. This wonderfully sublime photo was taken from Mike's DJI Mavic drone. 2/25/17|
|03/06||Bryan Saul||A captivating photo taken inside the locomotive cab showing the silhouette of Ted Prudence as well as the end of his train. The empty TTX flats are heading to Seward to load Seaway trailers onto a double desk barge. To gain perspective of the actual landscape check out Lloyd Tesch's photo of a coal train in the same location. The Loop, Seward Division, late 1980s.|
|03/13||Mike Gerenday||On a quiet cloudy Sunday evening near Sunshine Siding, the southbound AuRoRa lead by 4326, runs by at track speed kicking up the powdered sugar like snowfall that fell in the past morning. Even a place called Sunshine, can't escape the wintery days Alaska has to offer. 2/26/17|
|03/20||Curt Fortenberry||Curt Fortenberry says of his photo, "All I had was my iPhone this afternoon [3/12/17], and happened to find a long string of flats on the North Pole siding. Mostly Strykers I think. A couple utility vehicles on one end. Not sure what's going on." Click here for a supersize version.|
|03/20||Frank Keller||Sometimes you get lucky. I was out looking for some wildlife to photograph and found a large Bull Moose along the boardwalk at Potter Marsh. As I took a few shots and followed along the boardwalk I turned back and saw this fantastic sunset. It was just about then that I heard this train blow for the nearby grade crossing. The end result being what you see here. 9/28/16|
|03/27||Ed Rosek||Alaska Railroad train crossing Riley Creek as it arrives at Denali National Park.|
|04/03||Dave Blazejewski||The Alaska Railroad dispatched a "snow fleet" work extra consisting of two GP40-2s pushing Harsco/Jordan Spreader 9 south to Portage to begin opening up the railroad to Seward. The southern end of the ARR's mainline had been out of service since the last coal train ran but was being prepped for some lumber trains from Seward later in the month. While there is no snow to move here, in about 15 miles they will be deep into it cleaning the mountain over Grandview Summit.|
|04/10||Frank Keller||Although we do get a fair amount of snow in Anchorage it isn't often that a fresh snow fall coincides with a train movement. That wasn't the case yesterday when about a foot of snow fell overnight and continued to fall through the day. As luck would have it the earlier train was annulled and another was called for 1800, making it possible for me and my good friend David A Blazejewski to grab a few shots. It isn't often that things line up but over all I am happy with the results of the afternoon's photography. Weather wasn't great but in my opinion adds to the overall feel to the day. 3/30/17|
|04/17||Kevin Burkholder||In what is now hands down my most extreme night photo ever, the Alaska Railroad SD70MAC 4003 leads northbound Anchorage to Fairbanks train 130N (13) over the Riley's Creek Trestle in Denali National Park. The shot was made possible through the assistance of David Blazejewski and Frank Keller, whom entertained my idiotic suggestion of snowshoeing in the wilds of Denali National Park in the middle of the night to go get this shot. What a snowshoe hike amid intermittent snowfall AND what a memorable time as we had less than 5 minutes to set up once we arrived. AGAIN - thanks to David and Frank as without their participation and equipment hauling, this would not have been possible. 3/14/17|
|04/24||Patrick Albert||This photo was taken 4/15/17 along the Glenn Highway. The sky was just right and the light was such that the melting of the river ice afforded this beautiful reflection when you stand at the right spot.|
|05/01||Frank Keller||Alaska Industrial Paint, residing in the former Knik Arm power plant building on East Whitney Road, offers industrial and commercial painting, power washing and sandblasting. Currently, they are working on several rail cars to prepare them for the busy season ahead. The current contract calls for repainting passenger domes numbers 521, 522, 523 as well as diner 451. Frank Keller's unique drone photo shows dome 523 blasted and masked awaiting a fresh coat of blue and gold just outside AIP. As an added bonus Frank also captured two Halliburton cars in the lower left of the shot. 4/19/17 at 8:58 PM.|
|05/08||Günther Scholz||Günther Scholz's photo shows a remote refuel of GP40 #3013. (1, 2). Alaska Railroad employee Frank Keller explains, "They use it quite a bit for the gravel trains because they stay with trains as long as possible and do. If they take the power off the train then they need to do an air test etc. So on the gravel trains they leave the locomotives on and fuel them in place. Lately it has been Shoreside Petroleum but it varies." 8/16|
Near the very end of March Southcentral Alaska got hit with its last good snow dump of the winter season. Nearly a foot fell in some places and the fresh afternoon snowfall coincided fortuitously with a southbound freight from Anchorage to Whittier. As a bonus one of the ARR's three geeps remaining in their original as delivered 1976 paint job was on the point. Naturally a chase ensued!
Here the train pops through a small snow berm at the little grade crossing beneath the high car detector in Girdwood. And yes, I had to lay in a puddle to capture this image, but I think it was worth it. Do you?
Okay, I just couldn't help myself! Here is another eye-popping Blaze photo. Enjoy!
The Alaska Railroad dispatched a "snow fleet" work extra consisting of two GP40-2s pushing Harsco/Jordan Spreader 9 south to Portage to begin opening up the railroad to Seward. The southern end of the ARR's mainline had been out of service since the last coal train ran but was being prepped for some lumber barges due into Seward later in the month. While there is no snow to move here, in about 5 miles they will be deep into it cleaning the mountain over Grandview Summit. Alas, this spectacular piece of mountain railroad is roadless from this point south to Moose Pass, on the far side of the mountain, so for us this is where the chase ended.
|05/22||Mike Criss||Southbound freight train over the Knik River. 5/2/17, 7AM|
|05/29||Mike Gerenday||Denali and the AuRoRa, south of Talkeetna on March 5, 2017. I drove down to the new overpass at mile 91 of the Parks Highway. The shoulder of the road is really wide almost to the bridge itself, so I can pull off the side with tons of room. Well it's been windy for a couple of weeks, and that day it was super windy! I stood on the bridge for 45 minutes waiting for the train, it was late. So I was really windblown and cold by the time the train came by. I wore my orange Hi Vis jacket so cars would see me. Just as the train was passing under me, I took a picture of the engines, and if you zoom in, you can see Steve Cain behind the throttle, and Frank Sheppard is firing. The picture was well worth the wait and chill!|
|06/05||Frank Keller||Spring is Avalanche season and there are plenty of slide zones on the Alaska Railroad such as this at MP 7.1 on the Whittier Branch. Just a few days earlier this slide was 30 feet across the railroad. Thankfully maintenace of way (MOW) had it all cleaned up by the time the next barge train was ready to depart for Anchorage. 4/12/17|
My wife and I arrived in Anchorage a day and a half before the start of our Alaskan cruise. Patrick Durand, President of the 557 Restoration Company, asked me to stop by the Anchorage depot for a short board meeting. And then this happened.....
"On May 27, 2017 an informal meeting of the Engine 557 Board of Directors was convened at the Historic Anchorage Depot. Only one item was on the agenda, to welcome and honor John Combs the creator and web master of alaskarails.org. John is a member of the Engine 557 Restoration Company board of directors and hosts our No. 557 Info page at alaskarails.org. He is celebrating the 20th year of alaskarails.org. Without challenge, alaskarails.org provides a depth of coverage of the Alaska Railroad, history, rosters, personalities, and current operations that is not enjoyed by any other railroad. I do believe that John was overwhelmed when Doug Engebretson, ARRC Vice President for Operations, and a 557 board member, stepped forward and read a letter of congratulations from ARRC President, Bill O’Leary. Doug then presented a gold nugget encrusted switch key to John Combs. This is usually reserved for employees with extended service to the Alaska Railroad. In John’s case it is certainly appropriate. While unofficial, alaskarails.org is the touch stone for rail fans, the general public and employees in search of information on their favorite railroad. Board members, Patrick Durand, Maria Keffer, Dick Morris, Jim Posey, then joined Doug in an enjoyable exchange with other attendees and John Combs, the official #1 Alaska Railroad fan." - Patrick Durand
|06/19||Kevin Burkholder||With bitter wind chill on top of cold temperatures, Alaska Railroad train 130S heads through Summit on the way from Fairbanks to Anchorage behind a pair of SD70MACs, as Aurora Borealis dances in the night sky above! 3/25/17|
On June 24th Nancy Stewart and her family drove to Whittier to go aboard the Kenai Star and cruise through Prince William Sound in search of glaciers, breathtaking scenery and wildlife. As an extra bonus she caught the Denali Express (DEX) as it was departing. Boats and trains. Sounds like a spectacular day to me!
[Webmaster's note: This is the exact same train I took several weeks earlier to begin my inside passage cruise.]
|07/03||Volker Lange||Volker Lange, an Alaska Railroad railfan from Germany, says of his photo, "Nenana River Gorge, Alaska Railroad train Fairbanks to Anchorage on September 8th, 2016 in the "tunnel cut off" close to the George Parks Highway Bridge. The two SD70MAC (# 4322 and # 4320) slowly increase their speed, the timetable should also be kept!"|
|07/10||Robert Krol||Noordam Cruise Train, Port of Seward, 6/25/17. (1, 2)|
|07/17||Dave Blazejewski||This is as close as you can get to street running in Alaska as a yard job shoves three cars north toward CEI (1, 2, 3, 4). The little train is running alongside 1st Ave and has paused while the conductor walks up to activate the manually operated signals across the four lanes of Post Road. 1/8/17|
|07/24||Frank Keller||Mt. Susitna and a great setting sun along Turnagain Arm as the 120N heads to Anchorage. 7/9/17|
|07/31||Terry Douglas||I was killing time on Friday (3/10/17) down in the Ship creek area. Having spotted 2003 heading out along the Freight main from the C Street, I drove down to the small boat launch area. Upon coming back up to C Street, I was trapped by a train being shunted by 2003 into the Alaska Marine lines area of the Port of Anchorage for 5-10 minutes. It was a bright sunny day, and I had my camera (actually I had two, plus a drone, but only one was needed). Attached is a shot of 2003, and one of her loads, a modern looking AML refrigerated container, riding on an ancient (1976?) ARR flat car.|
|08/07||Jonathan Fischer||Jonathan Fischer says of his photos, "In August of 1989 I caught the southbound Aurora, first on Riley Creek, then at the first grade crossing south of Cantwell (now an overpass). It looks like the entire train is running backwards, as the baggage cars are still on the north end of the train. I would be interested if anyone had a recollection of this ‘one of a kind event’. Also included are a couple shots of the depot at Denali (1, 2)."|
|08/14||Aaron C. Pedersen||The Denali Star Train, at Ferry, Alaska on 07/27/2017.|
|08/21||Stefanie Jaz Coppock||Stefanie says of her photo, "I have been experimenting with some new photo effects programs and was walking on the Potter Marsh boardwalk when over the traffic noise I caught the unmistakable sound of a EMD. Running at track speed parallel to the highway and leading a southbound mixed freight consist was 4011 with 4008 as number 2. For a wave I got a nice blast of the horn, and even got a train shot between the motorbikes." (1, 2, 3) Summer 2017|
|08/28||Robert Krol||Bore out the Whittier tunnel! Double stacks are coming through! Just kidding. The operator makes double stacks with empties and then hauls them to the yard for storage. (1, 2) August 2017|
|09/04||Frank Keller||Alaska Railroad's unique Hurricane Turn is sitting on its namesake The Hurricane Bridge over Hurricane Gulch. This bridge is 916 feet long and 296 feet from the top of the rail to the bottom of the Gulch. A pretty impressive structure built in 1921. 6/19/17|
The Palmer to Chickaloon branch was part of the original Alaska Railroad to serve the coal fields there. Once oil was discovered in California the coal market declined and the spur was abandoned in the late 1930s.
Curt Fortenberry says of his photo, "Back in the early 80's I had an article in Mainline Modeler on the railroad bridge near the end of the line at Chickaloon. Thankfully the bridge was saved and still exists. The roof is new since the last time I saw it years ago. It would be close to 100 years old." 3/24/16
|09/04||Stefanie Jaz Coppock||From Stefamie's POTW entry 6/27/16, "Nestled in the woods about 9 or 10 miles east of the Anchorage to Seward railroad mainline Indian creek comes cascading down one side of Power Line Pass. Over one of the stream crossings sits a riveted gondola car dating from the 1940’s. Number 13802 is still serving Alaskans and visitors alike as a gateway to Chugach State Park." Well, Stefanie sent me a winter edition of the same photo and I knew I had to share it with you. March 2017|
|09/11||Bryan Saul||Bryan Saul says of his photo, "One of my favorites. I was on a northbound freight, which is in the siding at Montana (just behind me). I'm flagging the crossing for Anchorage-Fairbanks express (No. 1). I like the dust kicking up as the engineer tries to make up time. Trailing the F7 1500 is a B unit and one of the two E-8's purchased second hand. Probably mid 1980's."|
|09/18||Mike Criss||Fall has made its arrival at Denali National Park and Mike Criss was there to catch the southbound Denali Star at Riley Creek Trestle. When my wife first saw this photo she thought it was a painting! 7/14/17|
|09/25||Dave Blazejewski||Dave Blazejewski says of his photo, "Here is one from Thursday September 14th  when Frank Keller, John Tarble and I rode the Hurricane Turn with conductor Warren Redfearn and Daniel Keim. Thanks to them both for letting us off in a safe place to fly the drone while they pulled out on the bridge like usual. Colors are about peak in the area!"|
|10/02||Andrew VanDussen||The southbound ARR Denali Star has just passed through Healy and it's rich coal fields, it hugs the winding walls of the picturesque Nenana river canyon. Next stop Denali Park Station where it picked up 200 additional passengers headed for Anchorage.|
|10/09||Frank Keller||Frank Keller says of his photos, "Long on my list was this shot of a freight on Hurricane Bridge. While I have shot many a passenger train on this bridge the ARR freight is rather elusive as most travel over this bridge under the cover of darkness. Even on the longest days of summer you would need perfect conditions to walk away with this shot. I was fortunate enough to catch the 591W, A.K.A. the company work train, on this bridge with a spectacular display of fall colors. And while this shot almost didn't happen, a bit of a hike in and the train was on the bridge when I arrived, I feel extremely lucky to share this shot with you. I hope you enjoy it as it was a long time in the making." 9/15/17|
|10/16||Matthew Krol||Robert Krol is the Supervisor of Port Operations for Holland America Princess. On September 17, 2017 his family came to Seward to visit him for the Last Cruise Train of the summer. His 10-year old son Matthew couldn't resist snapping a couple photos (1, 2) of the majesty of the Alaska Railroad.|
|10/23||Chris Kilroy||One of the locations I would love to photograph someday is the Alaska Railroad depot at the airport in Anchorage. It all hits me as being super cool to get off the plane, hop onto the Grandview train and then catch a cruise ship in Seward. Tripsavy has a nice article on this trip and it even features an awesome shot of my favorite locomotive #3015. With that said, here are Chris Kilroy's photos of the airport depot (1, 2) which I hope to recreate someday myself. Here's hoping!|
|10/30||Todd Shechter||Todd says of his photos, "I took these photos today [10/28/17] at Beluga Point along the Seward Highway today south of Anchorage. This was the Alaska Railroad Halloween Train that was running Anchorage to Indian. The cars were all decorated for Halloween. Looked like a fun time aboard!" (1, 2)|
|11/06||Aaron C. Pedersen||Aaron says of his photo, "The HEX train, has been turned on the wye, and is preparing to duck underneath the Healy Spur Road overpass, to prepare for the following day's departure, for Anchorage." 7/26/17|
|11/13||Frank Keller||The work train is about to cross under the Parks Highway at the north end of Summit. They will tie up in Healy this night as they continue their march north. Summit Lake, fall 2017.|
|11/20||Jim Somerville||Frank Keller says of Jim's photo, "The tank farm to the left is the former Chevron facility now used by Crowley. At the very top is the Insulfoam facility and to the right of that is Anderson Dock where the stevedores unload cars. All are rail served." July 2006. Click here for a larger photo.|
|11/27||Dave Blazejewski||And just when you though Dave's photos couldn't get any more dazzling......Talkeetna River Bridge, ARRC MP 227.1, early Saturday morning, 11/25/17.|
|12/04||Jonathan Fischer||In the summer of 1983 ARR 1510 & ARR 1512 (twins FP-7’s) together served as one of the sets of power for the Fairbanks passenger train. Here are a couple shots taken at Eklutna late on a summer evening. Note the cat in the second photo.|
|12/11||Patrick Durand||Caboose 1069 and the last RDC #701 are in winter storage next to the ARRC administration building on Ship Creek. Both are in MOW service when photographed on December 1, 2017.|
|12/18||Frank Keller||Get ready to put your eyes back in their sockets! This week's contribtuion comes from Frank Keller who says of his photo, "While making the drive to Seward I caught up with the Coastal Classic, also en route to Seward, and grabbed this shot along Kenai Lake. Not a bad addition to my drive south for a day cruise." Lawing, 6/3/17|
|12/25||Dave Blazejewski||Frank Keller provided a great commentary for these photos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). "Out With a Bang, in more ways then one is about the best way I can describe this post. First off my best friend David Blazejewski has accepted a position outside. So perhaps it was fitting that on the second shortest day for actual daylight hours that he and I found ourselves driving north some two hundred miles for what, at this time of year, amounts to finding a needle in a haystack. We were in search of a daylight plow extra plowing between Colorado and Cantwell, roughly 40 miles in what amounts to dusk conditions. Although the official sunrise was 10:38 and sunset was 15:10 the sun never cleared the peaks in the area so the train was in continuous shadow for the whole 4.5 hours the sun was officially up. Success seem unlikely at best as a tiny plow train could be lost anywhere in the vastness that is Alaska. Our drive north in what started in near total darkness soon began to lighten and provided us with a beautiful sunrise and plenty of moose along the roadside to be ever watchful for. Road conditions were good and we arrived at Colorado around 10:45, however the road had yet to be plowed. We decided rather than hike the half mile in and wait it out in the minus 5 temps a better option was to stay warm and wait at 4th of July Creek. The end result was success and we pulled off a number of shots between there and Cantwell before turning around for the 4 hour drive home. It was a great day to be track side for the last time before Dave goes back east to railroad again." Snowfleet crew consisted of locomotive engineer Bill Bivins, conductor Patti Crawford and brakeman Rob Hintlitner. 12/23/17|
Page created 1/2/17 and last updated 12/25/17
© 1997-2017 John Combs unless otherwise noted