Ritchie's Favorite Railroad Memories

by Barry Ritchie


I remember the wreck at Hurricane when Mike Kopcha was engineer. My Dad and I went to help passengers, got a bus, etc. He and my dad were good friends.

Another true joke that was published in Reader's Digest. One of the train men working out of Healy had gotten a new toupee (because my dad had gotten one). My dad typed up the orders from the teletype box (yellow tape with holes and a machine to read it) and bagged it for the Y stick to give the passing train engineer their orders. The man goes out on the brisk windy winter day and the train comes by the depot a little fast. The engineer leans out with his arm to snag the loop of string with the bag attached and the draft blows the man's new toupee off and they miss each other. He goes running after his $600 toupee and catches it. He runs back to the still passing train and hands off the orders to the caboose man hanging off the rear.  Everyone in the depot is laughing as he enters and my dads says,"I think your the first person who has ever been scalped by an engine in Alaska."

When we moved to Whittier I was still small. We lived in the Begich building but only the first three floors because the rest was still damaged from the earthquake. I remember helping my dad find railroad cars after some of the big storms. How much snow does one need to "loose" a railroad car?!? Welcome to Whittier. There was a 30-foot telephone pole outside the little weather check point between the tunnels. My day called out and ask how the weather was after a big storm. "How much snow? "The ARR worker said he didn't know. What do you mean you don't know? You have a 30-foot pole out front with painted foot marks on it. To which he replied, "I just finished digging my way out of the house and haven't be able to find the pole yet. Send the BIG snow blower train engine!"


© 2014 Barry Ritchie