Riding the southbound Alaska Railroad "Denali Star"
A look at Alaska from the train

On Sunday, June 6, 2010, we rode the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star southbound from Fairbanks to Denali Station. The next day we resumed our southbound rail trip with Anchorage as our destination

Interior shot of The Alaska Railroad (ARR) Station in Fairbanks. Bright and clean inside and out, the architecture of this station, built in 2005, does not try to imitate the stations of a bygone era.

Our train on the day of departure from Fairbanks consisted of passenger cars from the ARR, and three cruise ship lines.

Handsome SD70MACs 4318 and 4326 were the power on our southbound run

The ARR dome car is a good way to see the sights on this train. ARR offers two levels of service, and we were riding the most economical. More dollars brings you access to a more modern bilevel dome seen three cars ahead in this photo.

Holland America equipment, photographed prior to departure

Royal Caribbean cruise line adorns its passenger cars with this motif, very appropriate to Alaska

Princess cruise line equipment comprised the rearmost section of the train

Departure from Fairbanks involved reversing direction on a loop track. About 20 minutes later, we glimpsed a very distant Mt. McKinley, white with snow in the morning sunshine. True to its elusive nature, it was the last time we would see North America's highest mountain, and the reason I failed to capture it on film

Many folks took advantage of the dome car during the leisurely trip 122 miles south to Denali Park Station.

I quickly learned that for photography, the vestibule at the end of the Alaska RR cars was the best place. This open air section was free of glass reflections, and with moderate outside temperature, it was a great place to hang out and take the occasional photo

Alaska from the train

The scenery clicks by at about 50 MPH.

At times it was possible to see the colorful cruise line sections of the train trailing along behind us

At one location along the way we saw some of the ARR track equipment

Track equipment

The last hour of our travel became more and more spectacular as we ascended the grade carved into the rock ledge above the Nenano River Gorge.

Climbing toward Denali Station, the SD70s began to get a workout as we ascended the steep grade

More rock, more altitude.

Slowing for the station stop at Denali Park Station, (El. 1732 ft.) we get a glimpse of the many hotel complexes across the valley.

Southbound Denali Star arrives at Denali Station on June 7, 2010. We boarded this train for the longest strech of our ARR rail experience, the 233.6 mile run south to Anchorage.

Once again, the astounding scenery begins to glide past the viewer


.....and more rivers!

Meet with the opposite direction Denali Star, as seen from the vestibule

Stunted black pine slide by 90 minutes out of Anchorage

After renting a car in Anchorage, we continued our tour of Alaska by driving south to Seward. What follows are a few shots of ARR activity not experienced on the Denali Star

Arriving in Seward, this was the first picture I took, the subject an empty coal train with the coastal mountains serving as a backdrop

Halfway between Seward and Anchorage, a northbound empty coal job was seen where the railroad is close along a body of water known as Turnagain Arm

Going away shot of same train. The Usibelli mine is an open pit operation in the area of Healy, about 360 miles north of Seward. Much of the Usibelli coal is shipped to Korea from Seward.