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The White Pass & Yukon Route Today

May 30, 2014


    I use pretty much any excuse to make the drive from Whitehorse to Skagway and back, and yesterday, I needed to check on some businesses for an update to my South Klondike Highway guide. As it turned out, I spent much more time with trains, though.

    As I neared Fraser, I saw a train just leaving for Skagway, so I sped up a bit and reached one of my favourite train-viewing spots, above the Thompson River, just a few seconds before the train arrived.

White Pass & Yukon Route train crossing the Thompson River

    The steep climb up from the Thompson River is great as both a distant train-spotter, and as a passenger on the train (I rode it most recently just 10 days ago).
White Pass & Yukon Route train in the White Pass

    There were 3 cruise ships in, so the docks were my second stop in Skagway (after the post office). The ship right in front of the "Stikine River" car was the Norwegian Sun, which my father and I spent a week on last year, cruising from Vancouver to Los Angeles.
White Pass & Yukon Route passenger car at the Skagway, Alaska cruise ship dock

    I actually did have a WP&YR target when I headed out, and that was to have a look at the new tracks that had just been laid to move the long-abandoned 2-8-2 Baldwin "MacArthur" #195 up to the Skagway Museum.
WP&YR 2-8-2 steam locomotive 195 at Skagway, Alaska

    This 2-8-2 locomotive type was originally known as a "Mikado", but they were renamed during World War II. To improve the WP&YR's motive power during the construction of the Alaska Highway, the Army ordered 11 new MacArthurs from the Baldwin Locomotive Works - they were delivered in 1943 and were given road numbers 190 through 200. These locomotives had 48" diameter drivers and weighed 119,000 pounds.
WP&YR 2-8-2 steam locomotive 195 at  Skagway, Alaska

    The tender is attached to the locomotive...
WP&YR 2-8-2 steam locomotive 195 at Skagway, Alaska

... as are 2 flatcars with 4 different types of shipping containers. These ones, 8x8x7 feet in size, were used on the company's first container ship, the Clifford J. Rogers, which was launched in 1955. The green one is for general cargo, the silver one is refrigerated, and I believe the orange one was for dangerous cargo such as explosives (mining equipment and supplies were a significant commodity for the railway).
White Pass & Yukon Route shipping containers Skagway, Alaska

    As is often the case on my Skagway trips, the last stop was Shops, just to see if anything interesting is going on outside...
White Pass & Yukon Route Shops - Skagway, Alaska

... and sometimes just because I like to look at trains :)
White Pass & Yukon Route Shops - Skagway, Alaska

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