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Chris Starnes
08-03-2006, 05:48 PM
Does anyone have any general info on the rail photo situation around the Anchorage, AK area? I will be there later this month and would like to do a bit of shooting if there is anything worthwhile in the nearby area.

Thanks guys!

CTS

hoydie17
08-03-2006, 06:18 PM
Chris,

I strongly suggest going down to the waterfront where the ARR corporate HQ is. If you go during business hours, the staff in the front office was very friendly to me and gave me all the information I requested, within reason of course. I asked for scanner frequencies, and where the best place was to find action, they were very accommodating.

The last time I was there (2 years ago) I caught the scenic RR coming back in with all their coaches. The tracks run parallel to SEWARD HIGHWAY to the South, and it's very easy to get off the road to get photos if you get into a chase.

The power for that particular train wasn't very exciting, a pair of older GP38-2's, but they do have some SD70MACs with HEP generators that occasionally find themselves on the scenic trains through Chugach Forest Region.

North of Anchorage there is obviously Elmendorf AFB with plenty of F-15's for your jetphoto needs, as well as C17's, and C5's. I'm a little desensitized to military aircraft after spending 10 years in the service, so I never bothered taking photos of them on the runway. Be forewarned, Air Force Skycops are kinda sensitive to people taking pictures of airplanes, so make sure you're on public property prior to shooting them.

You can follow the RR tracks North of Anchorage and about the point you get to Matanuska there's a wye and the tracks can either continue North towards Fairbanks or West and they take a longer round about route, but ultimately end up in Fairbanks as well. Follow the tracks West, and Alaska Route 3 will be your friend for that part of the trip.

Hope this helps, and of course a GOOGLE search of railfanning the ARR would probably yield excellent results. ;)

Sean

Chris Starnes
08-03-2006, 06:29 PM
Thanks Sean. I may make a visit to the front office. One of these days I want to get up there and ride one of their longer distance trains but I do not think we'll have the time on this outing.

The Elmendorf AFB airshow is actually the weekend when we will be in town. This isn't the reason for the trip but since it is the same time, we went ahead and got some media access and plan to attend at least one day of that show. Looking forward to visiting AK for the first time...and hoping for sunlight....

Any Anchorage area photos to share? ;)

Ween
08-03-2006, 09:29 PM
Be forewarned, Air Force Skycops are kinda sensitive to people taking pictures of airplanes, so make sure you're on public property prior to shooting them.

Heh heh, even then it's a toss up whether you'll get harassed or not. If you're taking shots that include the military flightline, even from public property, those 18-year olds with guns will confiscate your camera and film. I speak from multiple experiences when I say this, unfortunately.

Good luck in AK, CS. Maybe you'll get lucky and bag a KC-135, ha ha!

hoydie17
08-03-2006, 09:42 PM
Thanks Sean. Any Anchorage area photos to share? ;)

'Fraid not man, those photos are reserved for my personal collection. Like I said, my BEST stuff stays private to me, close family only get to see them. And that's only because I process them in the ole digital darkroom where they can see. LOL

Ween, I know what you mean, some of the guys we're bringing into the service nowadays get off on the power trip of holding an M4 in their hands. Flightlines and hangars tend to be pretty sensitive spots, but if you get the aircraft at the runway apron or in mid flight, probably not much to sweat. BUT, as he says, it is hit or miss with some of the skycops.

I forgot to mention, watch out for moose, especially a cow and her calves, we're coming up on the time of year that they're going to be birthing. If you see a cow and calves anywhere near you, shoot pics only from a distance. Cows are VERY PROTECTIVE over their young, and they don't just try to run you off. Anchorage is well known for having moose cruising down main street from time to time. LOL

Sean

Slopes09
08-03-2006, 11:26 PM
Hey, I can actually be semi-helpful for once!
I went to Alaska about this time last year. It was a great experience. Anchorage is indeed your best bet for seeing trains on the ARR. Shipp's Ferry is right along the ARR's Anchorage Yard, and you can walk all up and down it for the most part. The first two in the album are from when my family was looking at Shipp's Ferry. The other one from the album is a random train from a different day. As you can see, even in the middle of Anchorage, you can still see some wonderful scenery.
http://slopes09.rrpicturearchives.net/archivethumbs.aspx?id=6453
Another really cool place to go is Talkeetna. If you can make it up there, I highly reccomend it. If you've ever seen the show Northern Exposure, this is the town it is based on. The day I was there, there were two old GP40s in charge of a maintnence train parked there. Also, the Hurricane Turn departs from there. It is powered by two RDC's generally(which are parked there) and is the last flag stop train in the United States.
http://slopes09.rrpicturearchives.net/archivethumbs.aspx?id=6474
Denali is also a good place to take pictures. Not only is there a lot of wildlife on the short stretch of road that you are allowed to drive on(don't bother taking the bus into the park, everyone has said it's crowded and you don't get to see much), but there's one point where you can pull over and see Riley Creek Trestle, which is very big and you are able to see a huge vista.
Whittier is also another possible location. It is where the car floats dock and unload their cars. What would really be neat to see though is a picture from the tunnel that leads there. The tunnel was originally the only way by land to get to Whittier, as well as rail only. A few years back though, a large pork-barrel project was pushed through so that turned the tunnel into a joint use tunnel. Think of it as street-running in a tunnel. It's rather interesting.
I saw a lot of trains in Anchorage, and considering my family(who isn't as fond of trains as I am) didn't even plan to see any trains there, I think I did pretty good.
Hope this helps!
P.S. I forgot to include the link to this awesome site: www.alaskarails.org
This site should have everything you need and more.
Oh, and don't forget about the passenger trains, if you really want a shot at a location, you'll know when they'll be there. Hope to see some good shots from you! ;-)

Chris Starnes
08-03-2006, 11:55 PM
Thanks for the info Mike. Like I said, I doubt I'll have a ton of time but I do hope to explore things a bit.