Nights Aboard the Aurora-Express in Fairbanks

by Peter Nowell

My wife, her parents, and I stayed in bed & breakfasts in many areas of Alaska during our travels there in August of 1998.  When we booked our stay at the "Forget Me-Not Lodge and Aurora-Express" in Fairbanks we thought we were staying in just another charming, warm B&B.  Wrong!

The Forget-Me-Not Lodge itself is a beautiful 5,000 sq. ft. home with three beautifully decorated guest rooms, but we stayed in the Aurora-Express down the hill from the lodge.

The Aurora-Express consists of train cars that were bought from Denali Park for $1 each and moved at a cost of about $40,000 to their current location below the Forget-Me-Not Lodge.  The story of the move was told by many of Alaska's newspapers and captured on video.  You can read about it on their web site (

Each of the train cars has been extensively decorated in themes arising from the gold rush period of Alaska.  My wife and I stayed in the Bordello Room and her folks stayed in the CanCan Room.  There is also a Gold Rush and an Immaculate Conception Room, the Golden Nellie Caboose and two cars for families or groups called the National Emblem and the Arlene.  Take my word for it, the rooms are absolutely breathtaking.  There is also an engine, but no rooms on that! Most of them have chandeliers, beautfully painted ceilings, and enough attention to their individual themes to keep you admiring your room past the time you might have otherwise got going on your day. There are plenty of pictures of the train suites on their web site.

Breakfast is in the Lodge up the hill in a room with expansive views of the Tanana Valley.  If you are lucky, you might be treated to a rare performance during breakfast, but that is all I will say about that!  In any case, you will enjoy a meal above expectations.

While your main interest might be the train cars, make sure you make ime to look around the lodge itself.  You'll never forget it - as the name implies.

There is a great deal to do in the Fairbanks area.  The web site has a lot of suggestions and pointers for your stay.   It also has links and information about a number of places to visit that will be of great interest to train enthusiasts.

If you plan a trip to Alaska, it will most likely be in the late spring, summer, or early fall.  That is fortunate as the Aurora-Express is only open during the months of May through the end of September.


© 1999 Peter Nowell