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2013 NRHS Convention Alaska Railroad Operations Center and Station Tour 9/18/2013

by Chris Guenzler

This limited-capacity tour begins with an orientation program and discussion of current railroad operations. Participants will then have a rare opportunity to visit the Alaska Railroad Operations Center, which controls the operation of the entire railroad system. There will also be a tour through the railroad's Anchorage passenger station. Although the waiting room may be familiar to railroad passengers, most of the station and the railroad operations it houses are not.

Elizabeth and I arose at the Guesthouse Inn and Suites and after our morning duties, walked just north across the street to the Sizzlin' Cafe where I had enormous pancakes. It was an excellent meal, the best breakfast of the trip. If you come here, eat there and you will be very happy.

Chris Parker let me use his camera today so that I could take plenty of pictures. Elizabeth and I walked to the Hilton and I went to the safety briefing for the tour this morning then walked out to the bus and boarded it for the journey to the Alaska Railroad Operations Center. I collected the ticket stubs for our tour then Bart Jennings gave us more information. The bus had to take a detour in order to get us to our first of two trip locations; we arrived there and I posed everyone for a group picture in front of the building. This was the first time that a tour of this building has been given to the public.

The group picture before we started our tour, after which we went inside.

Once we were all in, we went up to the third floor to the yard master's office.

Alaska Railroad head yard master.

Views from the deck outside the head yard master's office.

We were visited by many Alaska Railroad employees.

John Garner, who like me, is a big Pittsburgh Penguins fan.

Another fantastic Alaska Railroad employee. From here we went into one of the two Alaska Railroad dispatching centers in this building. The railroad is divided into two at Willow.

A dispatching board and area.

The official clock.

The Chief Dispatcher.

The north railroad dispatching board.

The Chief Dispatcher took time to answer questions.

The Alaska Railroad Emergency Preparedness Room. Our last room to visit featured a locomotive simulator.

The Alaska Railroad locomotive simulator. That ended our tour of the Alaska Railroad Operations Center and we were bussed to the Alaska Railroad Anchorage station for the behind-the-scenes part of the tour there.

The ticket counter where I picked up my tickets in 1999 for trips on this great railroad. There was a train in the station ready to leave and we were allowed to take some pictures of it.

The Glacier Discovery train would leave at 9:45 AM.

Our group listening to our tour guide, from whom we learnt they have a very small passenger department for the high number of passengers they serve each year.

Alaska Railroad posters.

Nicole Noford.

Every year the Alaska Railroad makes a new poster and here are just a few since they started back in the late 1980's.

We talked about the history of trains on the Alaska Railroad.

Reservation agents of the Alaska Railroad.

More posters and paintings are located throughout the building.

Our group in the reservation office.

Michelle Renfrew. We returned to the station lobby and that was the end of our behind-the-scenes tour of the Alaska Railroad. Most of the group wanted to stay and visit the gift shop, so we only had three other passengers on the bus back to the Hilton Hotel.

Another picture of Alaska Railroad 1. We went back to the hotel and the tour was over.

I went to Stewart's Photo Shop to get a new point-and-shoot camera and film for Elizabeth. I then walked to City Hall to acquire city municipal pins for her but they did not have any and instead, sent me to the Travel Alaska office which gave me some items for her. Next I picked up two decks of Alaska playing cards for my mother then stopped at a store for chocolate donuts for me each morning. I then returned to the hotel, put up yesterday's story then wrote this one and finished before I had to leave for the Shop Tour this afternoon.