Fireweed: A tall perennial (Epilobium angustifolium) of the
evening-primrose family that has long spikes of pinkish purple flowers.
Alaska Railroad: A 500 mile regional railroad connecting Seward
with Fairbanks Alaska completed in 1923. Known as America's only
full-service railroad, offering both freight and passenger service year
My annual trip to Alaska for 2007
marked a return to actually riding on the beautiful Alaska
Railroad. While in Alaska in 2006, I did not get aboard the
Alaska Railroad. The day before my departure from Long Beach to
Anchorage, I got my plan set up to ride the Denali Star train
northbound to Talkeetna and then switch to the Hurrican Turn Flagstop
train. A good choice this was since the weather cooperated.
For the Anchorage to Talkeetna leg of this trip, click
here. The Hurricane Turn Flagstop train is the last
flagstop train on the North American continent running early May
through early September on a Thursday
through Sunday schedule. Off season it runs with less
frequency. Most years the equipment is 2 RDC
cars, though in 2001, the train consist was a Geep and one old gallery
When I arrived, only 2 people were at
the Talkeetna Section house. In Anchorage, I had asked about my
Hurricane Turn train
ticket. The ticket office person said to see Jack in
Talkeetna. After awhile, I noticed Conductor Buddy Gray,
had a batch of tickets in his hand. He quickly found mine and
distributed the rest to the gathering crowd. As soon as the
Denali Star soon passed by the Hurricane crew moved
the train onto the mainline and boarded the passengers, about 50
people, including a number of people going rafting. The rafting
trip is booked through the Alaska Railroad. Below right, notice
the woman in the green shirt. She seemed to be posing for my
photograph. We chatted later when I noticed her shirt had ice
As usual on
the ARR RDC cars, there was no barrier to the control cab and we soon
departed. Off we went into the wilderness on the
Hurricane Turn, which is always an adventure. This part of the
railroad traverses some pristine Alaskan wilderness with such
historical names as Curry, Chulitna, Sherman, and Hurricane
Gulch, a 918 foot wide chasm.
Two kinds of side dump ballast cars are visible. The end of the
train has a depressed center flatcar for a large front end
loader. "Commitment to dirt" is stenciled on the MOW
car. It even has a small blade hanging over the tie end.
The Hurricane Turn train is a
"flagstop" train, meaning
potential passengers near the track can show their intention to board
the train by waving their arms or a white flag. Once he sees
them, the Engineer sounds the whistle and informs the conductor which
side the flag is going to board. Many people own cabins between
Alaska Railroad mileposts 226.7 (Talkeetna) and 285 (Hurricane), the
route the Hurricane
operates on. The depend on the Alaska Railroad for access to
their cabins, since there is no road access in this area between
Talkeetna and Hurricane. The stops are made as brief as
appears the first flag stop was at milepost 255 to pickup some people
heading to Hurricane where there vehicle was parked. The rafters
were dropped off at Chase. The Alaska Railroad offers a train
ride to Chase and a gentle float trip on the Susitna River back to
Talkeetna which takes about 4-1/2 hours.
Below right looks like a location
which has flooded in the past. Notice the large rip-rap rocks to
the left of the track.
While talking to some other
passengers, the topic happened to be wildlife. I happened to look
at the gravel bar in the river and noticed something large enough to be
an eagle, which it was. We soon got to Curry, milepost
248.5. In the past life of this railroad in a less modern age,
there was a hotel at Curry which burnt down in the 1950's.
Starting in 2008, the Alaska Railroad will have some type of guided
tour available at Curry. The old speeder car sits by itself on a
short section of track. I wonder if this is the same one which
was hit by a passenger train as shown on John Combs' Alaskarails
The sign on the roof says Curry
Alaska Mile 248.5 ARR Elevation 546 Feet.
For some very interesting reading about Curry, John Combs' Alaskarails
web site has material for you. Another page on the same site is
dedicated to Curry.
This second link has many other links regarding Curry.