Trains and snow


Congratulations for reading my journal all the way to the end! I did put a lot of time and effort into it. So, how about doing me a favor in return? Just drop me an e-note at and let me know you read it all the way through. I'd sure appreciate it! Also, please feel free to send all comments, criticisms, corrections, suggestions and additions to me and I will make changes as time permits. And as a special bonus for having read it all, here are two additional videos: a southbound Coastal Classic crossing the Snow River Bridge (2.7 MB) and a super close up clip of the Denali Star meeting a Maintenance of Way work train (3.8 MB). You will not find links anywhere else on my site to these videos. This is just my way of saying thanks to you, the loyal railfan, who stuck with me to the end.

I really did not believe my 2005 trip would be as great as those I had experienced in the past. I am happy to report that I was wrong! It was nothing short of amazing! And although I never set foot onto a red carpet, it definitely felt like I had. I am very, very grateful to the Alaska Railroad for taking such great care of me!

As I stated in my previous journal, I am just one man trying to do a myriad of things. Although I had 16 days this trip (my longest to date), it still wasn't enough time and I guess it never will be. I was unable to see a lot of people and places on my list. However, all the more reason to return in two or three years.

I brought home a lot of photos, negatives, video, recorded audio, stories, historical information, charts and other items. It will be months before I get it all online. Patience is a virtue! ;-)

The running theme of my last Alaska Railroad visit was winter. This time the theme was definitely security. The March 11, 2004 Spain train bombing has caused a significant ramping up of security within the Alaska Railroad. However, railroad security is a double-edged sword. Yes, it is very important indeed to ensure passenger safety as well as the shipment of freight. On the flip side of the coin, security watchdogs do put a bit of a damper on railfanning.

I agree we need to be more cautious and vigilant. However, it doesn't make sense to me to try to hide things that are in plain public view. Most of us railfans are innocent citizens with an eccentric hobby. Therefore, I have adopted my friend Pat Durand's recent philosophy - railroads should work together with railfans. Dedicated railfans could undergo a simple background check and then receive proper safety training. They would then call a railroad security agent and give advance notice with specific places and times. In turn, these railfans would keep a sharp eye out for dangerous or suspicious behavior and call it in as necessary. Additionally, I think the the railroad could host a railfan day with tours of the various shops, yards, docks and offices. Also, an Internet web cam of various railroad locations would be a nice (as well as safe) way for us to railfan. And I for one would be willing to put my money where my mouth is. I'd be willing to pay $50 to attend a railfan day or towards the purchase of a web cam. Yes, a web cam would be a very nice way for me to get my daily Alaska Railroad fix from here in hot and humid Dayton, Ohio...hint...hint.


John Combs

Day 17 | Index