Thursday, March 4, 2004
I woke at 6:45 am to a sky dizzy with huge snow flurries! Don fixed me a grand buffet and then I was off to see the wizard, the great and powerful ARR Chief Mechanical Engineer Josh Coran. Our mission was to take photos of the Denali's undercarriage to send to Overland Models for a possible future HO scale model. Proper detail photos means the photographer needs to be at eye level with the subject he captures on film (or electrons in this case). So, I had to kneel down into a foot of snow. This was to be foreshadowing for some future events.
For Alaska Railroad addicts only: The Alaska Railroad is wrestling over the idea of selling the Denali. Some people like this historical and nostalgic car while others feel something newer and lighter would be more appropriate. They have the 2000 which serves as an entertainment car, but still need a business car. Only time will tell if they buy a used business car or keep the Denali. Either way they will have to spend some big bucks for refurbishment.
We returned to Josh's office, taking a long cut through several of the shops. Hopefully, he did not see me drooling all over myself as we passed by GP40s, SD70MACs, cab cars P31 and 32 and a wide variety of passenger cars. Once we returned to his office, I got permission to peruse some of his historical items. I photocopied a few and you'll get to see them in future additions to this website.
On the way back to Don's condo, I stopped off at the train depot to see the model railroading displays for the Fur Rondy. The crowds were almost non-existent. Apparently, people were unaware that the celebration had been extended to two weeks. The Military Society of Model Railroad Engineers MSMRRE had installed a very fine modular HO scale display. Marty Quaas and his charming Mooselip layout was wowing the only family in sight with HO scale stories of space ships, spilled moonshine and other shenanigans. The purpose of Marty's Mooselip is to encourage model railroading. The buildings are all plastic building kits and the entire layout can be constructed with minimal skill and standard tools.
I returned to Don's just in time to meet "the boys" for a planned afternoon of storytelling. Here's a list of "the boys" and their years of service with the Alaska Railroad: Albert Bailey (1949-1974), Ben Parrish (1950-1985), Don Prince (1950-1980), Jim "Bones" Reekie (1941-1978), Jim Sava (1950-1963 and 1982-1994) and Stu White (1948-1982). Together they had a combine Alaska Railroading experience of 185 years! They spent three hours telling stories of railroad days gone by all of which were recorded on cassette tape. I was totally enraptured, listening to accounts of moose strikes, near misses with vehicles, the Curry power plant explosion, Engineer Otis Harrington's tall tales, the shaky Loop trestle, the 1964 earthquake and much, much more. Some of these tales will eventually appear on the website, but some will remain locked away for all eternity! It was truly sad when the afternoon came to an end. It was very obvious that these men shared a common love and camaraderie for the Alaska Railroad.
As the evening came to a contented close, Don and I surfed eBay and heralded the success of the afternoon story swap. I went to bed at a very early 9:00 pm in preparation for a 3:30 am wake up.
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