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My Alaska Railfan Adventure, June 2004

In March of 2004 I signed up for a trip in Alaska. The trip, prepared by Trains Unlimited Tours, was titled an "Alaska Railfan Adventure" and was described as being designed for "hardcore railfan photographers with the main emphasis on scenic trackside action, photography, workshop visits, railroad operations and spectacular train rides". Being a tour meant no hassling or worrying about making transportation or hotel reservations. Someone else would do that and they'd also make arrangements for special train activities. Yup. This was my kind of adventure. 10 days with trains! 10 days in Alaska!! 10 days away from work!!! The tour was scheduled for June 10 to 20, 2004. June 20th was one day before the summer solstice which would result in more than 19 hours of daylight for the entire time I would be in Alaska. I sent in my check and started packing.

I'm not the only "hardcore railfan photographer" who signed up for the trip. There were 14 of us on the tour. We were accompanied by 2 guides making the size of the group 16 people. I'll refer to the members of the tour as "us" and "the group".

The trip featured two days of charter train action with both steam and diesel locomotives on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad in Skagway, Alaska. Skagway is a port city in the Inside Passage region of Alaska. Riding on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad would take us over the border into British Columbia, Canada.

After leaving Skagway we flew to Anchorage in the Southcentral Region of Alaska. We spent the remainder of the trip in Alaska's Southcentral and Interior Regions. While riding and chasing Alaska Railroad trains we visited a number of places in Alaska's Southcentral Region including Anchorage, Seward, Whittier, the Kenai Fjords National Park, Palmer and Wasilla. We also visited parts of Alaska's Interior Region; Fairbanks, Nenana and the Denali National Park, the home of Mount McKinley. We stopped riding and chasing the Alaska Railroad trains to visit the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, to ride on the Tanana Valley Railroad and the Alaska Central Railroad and to visit a couple of model railroad layouts.

Alaska is in the Alaska time zone, a one hour difference from the US Pacific time zone. That's a four hour time difference from my home in Boston. The four hour time difference combined with the excitement of the trip and the 19 hours of daylight left me with little concept of time on the trip. All I know is at the end of the tenth day I wanted to spend more time in Alaska. The time flew by too quickly.

Come with me on my trip and I'll tell my story with the aid of many of the photographs I shot. Some of the photos are panoramas and should be viewed without being resized by your browser.

Click on the map to start the trip

Let's visit the railroads of Alaska

Clicking on any picture in this trip report will enlarge it for your viewing pleasure. The typical file size of these full size images is about 90KB. If you're using a modem to connect to the internet it may take a minute for some of the enlarged picture to appear.

My favorite photos from this trip

White Pass and Yukon steam loco Flowers and a White Pass diesel locomotive in Skagway Glacier Discover passenger car is a mirror Near Portage Lake Panoramic shot of Lake Lucille in Wasilla Panoramic shot of Exit Glacier


©2004,2006 John Simakauskas