Rail Trip to the Summit of White Pass
August 2, 2011
We boarded the train in Skagway for the 10.5 mile run to the summit of White Pass along the old goldrush trail. The view above is near the summit of the Pass. The train ahead of us is shown at the high trestle bridge on the mountain.
We were seated in large comfortable old-style passenger cars and eased out of town. It didn't take long to clear the town, and then we were looking at green mountains.
The trip out of town was partly museum as we passed this old snow-plow-equipped steam locomotive from on the order of a hundred years ago.The black-clad conductor and the hand-operated track switch reinforced the sense of history.
Old steam Engine No. 52 was on display. It was the first locomotive to arrive in Alaska. Built in 1881, it arrived in Skagway in 1898. It was retired from service in 1936.
At right above is a collection of track inspection and repair equipment. At the front of the column is a Casey Car used for track inspection daily. Behind it is their ballast regulator for distributing the ballast and brushing the track afterward. Behind it is a Tamper that picks up the rail as metal teeth vibrate into the ground to pack the right-of-way gravel (ballast). It also uses a laser level to align the tracks.
The steam locomotive Engine No. 73 is described as the "pride of the fleet" and is still in service for special steam excursions. It is a fully-restored 1947 Baldwin 2-8-2 Mikado class steam locomotive.
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