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2013 NRHS Convention Anchorage to Seward Excursion 9/19/2013

by Chris Guenzler

The morning started with my usual early shower with chocolate donuts for a morning snack. I posted yesterday's stories on before packing for the trip today to Seward. Elizabeth and I met Chris Parker in the lobby then we walked to the Alaska Railroad station where we had our safety meeting. After that we went through the Gold Star cars and the business car "Aurora" for a safety briefing there then went to our car doors to wait for our passengers. I was working Coach 209 on which we would board couples only on this nearly sold-out train. Once almost all my passengers were on my car, I then went to get my new Canon camera for its first photograph.

Alaska Railroad business car 2000 "Aurora" (nee Florida Fun Train 9005) built by Colorado Railcar in 2000 on the train.

The front of our train. Our train had engines SD70MAC 4324 and GP40-23013, baggage 102 (ex. Alaska Railroad 6306, nee Union Pacific 6306), Gold Star 653, Gold Star 652, coach 205 (built by Daewoo Heavy Industries in 1989), dome 523 (ex. Amtrak 9483, exx. Amtrak 9404, exxx. Burlington 4623, nee Northern Pacific 556), coach 523 (ex. Florida Fun Train, nee Canadian National baggage car 9302) and business car 2000 "Aurora".

After the last passengers boarded, we closed up the traps and the train departed Anchorage for Seward at 8:00 AM.

The Kinik Inlet. We ran south towards Potter where we would meet a freight train from Whittier.

The interior of the business car "Aurora". Elizabeth had the opportunity to be a car host in this car and she had the time of her life.

On the way to Potter.

Scene from Potter as we waited. The freight train came with 64 cars and was 4,800 feet long. Once the train cleared, we passed the Potter section house and rotary snowplow on display there.

Running along Turnagain Inlet.

The train running along Turnagain Inlet. I went to the Gold Star car for a few pictures.

The top level of the Gold Star car 653.

The view from the upper outside platform of Gold Star car 653.

Beluga whales were spotted as we headed south along the Turnagain Inlet.

Dead trees left from the 1964 Alaska Earthquake.

The train has reached Portage, the junction with the Whittier Line.

We crossed the valley to get to the approach to Moose Pass then went into the siding at Spencer to meet a northbound coal train there. I walked back to the rear of the "Aurora" for some pictures.

The view from the rear of the "Aurora".

Elizabeth on the rear of the "Aurora". We went into the siding at Spencer for the coal train.

The coal train at Spencer with 4012 leading seven engines.

The Spencer station sign. We reversed out of the siding and would climb to Moose Pass.

Climbing the grade by the Spencer Glacier.

The train went through the narrow canyon with the Placer River then Tunnel Milepost 52.7 at 584 feet, Tunnel Milepost 52.5 at 197 feet, Tunnel Milepost 52.4 at 307 feet, Tunnel Milepost 52.1 at 955 feet and finally Tunnel Milepost 51.9 at 310 feet.

The train climbed the grade towards the Bartlett Glacier.

Views of the Bartlett Glacier which was named in 1907 for Frank Bartlett, Alaska Central Railroad civil engineer. The glacier is visible just 800 feet from the track. Deadman's Glacier rises above.

The train and the Bartlett Glacier.

Starting around the Grandview Loops.

The Grandview Loops. At MP 44.9, it is located in one of a number of narrow passes that the old Iditarod Trail used on its route between Seward and Nome.

Continuing the climb to Grandview.

Getting closer to Grandview.

The train went by Trail Glacier. After that we finished the climb which took us to the summit at Grandview at 1,063 feet.

Later we rolled by Upper Trail Lake before we came to Middle Trail Lake {pictured} where we would stop for photo runby at Moose Pass. I detrained to be a part of the photo line and we walked down by the lake and I stood for the reverse move.

The reverse move which took place in the rain.

The photo runby at Moose Lake. Moose Pass siding, 999 feet long was named in 1912 as a station on the Alaska Railroad and is reportedly derived from a postman's team of dogs that in 1903 had considerable trouble gaining the right-of-way from a moose.

Everyone reboarded and we continued south to Seward.

Lower Trail Lake which drains into Kenai Lake. The rain started and stopped before the sun showed for the first time today.

The Seward Airport.

The tracks we would return on after the train was wyed and the passengers took part in the photo runby.

Minutes later, the wye where we would turn the train after the photo runby.

The train arrived at Steward station and our passengers detrained.

Silver salmon in the stream next to the train.

Once they returned, most of the passengers reboarded the train and a few were on the cruise docks waiting for us.

The train reversed around the wye at Seward.

Making its way to the end of track at the cruise ship dock.

The rear of the train at the end of track in Seward.

The cruise train here. I would relax the rest of the way back to Anchorage by talking to friends and my passengers. We arrived just short of the crew dying on the hours-of-service law. That ended another excellent NRHS convention trip.

Elizabeth and I walked back to the hotel then went to the Sizzlin' Cafe for dinner, after which we stopped at a petrol station's convenience store for some Coca-Cola for me tomorrow then returned to the hotel where I finished the story then called it a night.

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