A The Alaska
Railroad Brat

by Pat Cook
(Anchorage, AK )

My dad was an officer for The Alaska Railroad.

As a railroad brat, I had access to a free pass, as did several of my friends. I don't remember who the conductor was, but he was our favorite. He worked the Tuesday passenger train.

Us railroad brats would take the Tuesday Northbound to Honolulu and then catch the Southbound back to Anchorage for a day’s outing.
We had the run of the whole train, including the baggage car and sometimes even the locomotive.

When the train stopped we would collect rocks and bring them on-board, so we could throw the rocks from the baggage car into the streams as we went over the bridges. Every so often he would take a couple of us up, so we could ride in the locomotive. Life was good!

That conductor gave us a great idea.

We would be in the tourist coach. One of us would shout “hay, look” and the rest of us would rush to the window and peer out and exclaim “wow”. Then the tourists would rush to that side of the car and look and look, and wonder what we were looking at.

When I was older, during Salmon fishing season, Mom and I would take the Northbound up to Little Willow, or Montana Creek or Lane Creek and fish until the Southbound came. We would head home, and she would can the salmon the next day while I grabbed a friend and headed back up for another fishing expedition.

On one of my last rides north on The Alaska Railroad, in 1971, my Dad and Mom hosted his sister and brother-in-law on a trip to Fairbanks. He invited me and my new to Alaska wife on the trip.

We were hosted in the B-1 car (executive rail-car, equipped with its own galley and cook, three bedrooms, secretary’s office and observation lounge). It was the last car on the passenger train. On the wall was a route map of the rail-line with all the section locations along the line.

My new to Alaska wife was expecting to see a town at each one of the points on the map, instead what she saw were signs that named places like Caswell, Chase, Lane, Gold Creek, Hurricane, Honolulu, Windy, and Lignite. Occasionally, there would even be a section house there, but no town.

When I was older yet, but no longer had a free pass, I was working in the transportation industry, actually a trucking company (which my Dad referred to as a belly robber). I belonged to the National Defense Transportation Association.

Once a year, we would give the newest member to arrive in Alaska a gift, making a big deal with a lot of hoopla --- a free round-trip to Honolulu --- Honolulu, AK on The Alaska Railroad.

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Railroad Brat

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A life line
by: Ron Maley

I remember the days when the train would stop at any creek we wanted to fish and pick us up in the afternoon.

Also in the winter time, when the train hit a moose they would section it up and deliver it to us in Wasilla. We would take it to the children's home. We had 2 around Wasilla and 1 in Palmer. Dad always keep a roast for the Roadhouse.

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