Thursday, April 24, 2014

Steam Engine 557

Steam locomotive 557 is being restored to operating condition over the next several years and will be running on Alaska rails again soon. Please support our efforts in bringing history to life.  Click on the link at the bottom of this post for additional information and ways to contribute.

The Alaska Railroad's last operating steam engine was Locomotive Number 557. The S-160 class Consolidation 2-8-0 locomotives built for the United States Army Transportation Corp. between 1942 and 1945, became the largest single class of locomotives ever built in America. Of the 2,120 units built, twelve found their way to Alaska.  Known as GI Consolidations, or "Gypsy Rose Lee" locomotives (they were striped down for action) S-160's eventually found their way to every continent, but for Australia and Antarctica. There are only five examples left in North America and none are currently operational.

557 back in Alaska.

Heading to the shop for rebuilding.

Thanks to Alaska West Express Transport.

Backing her into the shop.

Let's get to work!

I spent hours grinding these wheel spokes.

The tender, for water and fuel oil (heat and steam).

The firebox. The cab would be on the right side in this photo, 
but its been removed for rebuilding.

Wheels are secured for shipment.



Headlight (from the side).

This print is for sale.  The title, “Extra 557 Returning”  has a double meaning.  In the pictured scene the locomotive and train are returning to Anchorage from a special (Extra) run to Seward.  The title also anticipates the actual return of the 557 to these rails.

J Craig Thorpe, the artist who created this amazing image.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Road Trip

The time between closing on my home sale and needing to be in Bellingham to catch the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Haines, I spent on the road.  Visiting friends and family in the Pacific Northwest and looking for a possible community to settle in.  That's going to be a challenge, any suggestions?

I got pretty close to Paradise...

Flathead Valley, Montana.

Near Whitefish, MT.

Whitefish lake.

Dayton, WA.  Nothing like Dayton, OH.

Dayton Historical Railway Depot.

Gentle hills and straight roads of eastern WA.

Bridge across the Columbia River.

Ritzville, WA.

Old sign painted on the side of a building.

Spokane Falls.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Alaska Marine Highway to Alaska!

I'm heading to Alaska for another summer working in Denali National Park.  I drove to Bellingham, WA and caught the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Haines.  The ferry M/V Matanuska was built in 1963, is 408' long and 74' wide with a capacity of 745 passengers and 1,760 linear feet of vehicle capacity.  I got a cabin this time as I'm getting too old and weary to be sleeping on the steel deck as I did many times as a younger man.

We had beautiful weather; clear blue skies and smooth water for an easy voyage.  Saw lots of whales and arrived on time in Haines.  Drove to Fairbanks and then down to Denali, Wasilla and onto Anchorage to house sit for friends on vacation.   I'm heading back up to Denali next week to start work with HAP (Holland America - Princess), an awesome place for a seasonal summer job!


Superbowl Champions, Seattle Seahawks

Superbowl XLVIII Champions - Seattle Seahawks.
Wow, what a season to be a Seahawks fan!  I was at the parade in Seattle on Wednesday, February 5th, after the Seahawks won the Superbowl and what a party and parade it was.  It was a cold and blustery day with a weak winter sun failing to provide any warmth.  The wait was long and cold but the parade more than made up for it!  The crowd was intense, people everywhere.  So much blue and green, even some of the tree trunks were blue. Local companies, including Boeing, really got into the 12th man spirit. They painted a new 747-800 in Seahawks colors!  What a great team in a great city!