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One of the attractions of a visit to a wild,
largely empty state like Alaska or the
Yukon is the passion people have for just
being there. The Yukon is part of, and
contiguous with, the rest of Canada, but
Alaska is full of people who want to get
away from the 'Lower 48', and are quite
happy at minus 30° for several months of
the year. They get around by floatplane
more so than by car: there are few roads
and even fewer railways (only two routes, as far as I know, one from Skagway in SE
Alaska, the starting point for the trek to the gold fields in ‘98, to Whitehorse, where the
narrow-gauge meets the Yukon river system, and the other is the mainline from
Fairbanks to Anchorage and just beyond into the Kenai peninsula). This latter almost
became a BBC commission: having seen our pilot for a film of the rescue of a dozen
Finnish steam locomotives from the scrapyard, they wanted the director and me for a
‘Great Railway Journey’ on that 600-mile Alaskan epic, with the late Carrie Fisher
presenting. Alas, it wasn’t to be – it turned out that ‘ours’ was a stand-by commission in
case any of the others in the series failed for whatever reason, and they didn’t.
This remnant of the early days of locomotion in the Yukon sits outside one of the best
little museums I’ve ever seen - to life and survival on this harsh frontier, with a major
component being the history of the native peoples of the American Northwest.
One of the attractions of a visit to a wild, largely empty state like Alaska or the Yukon is
the passion people have for just being there. The Yukon is part of, and contiguous with,
the rest of Canada, but Alaska is full of people who want to get away from the 'Lower
48', and are quite happy at minus 30° for several months of the year. They get around
by floatplane more so than by car: there are few roads and even fewer railways (only
two routes, as far as I know, one from Skagway in SE Alaska, the starting point for the
trek to the gold fields in ‘98, to Whitehorse, where the narrow-gauge meets the Yukon
river system, and the other is the mainline from Fairbanks to Anchorage and just beyond
into the Kenai peninsula). This latter almost became a BBC commission: having seen our
pilot for a film of the rescue of a dozen Finnish steam locomotives from the scrapyard,
they wanted the director and me for a ‘Great Railway Journey’ on that 600-mile Alaskan
epic, with the late Carrie Fisher presenting. Alas, it wasn’t to be – it turned out that ‘ours’
was a stand-by commission in case any of the others in the series failed for whatever
reason, and they didn’t.
This remnant of the early days of locomotion in the Yukon sits outside one of the best
little museums I’ve ever seen - to life and survival on this harsh frontier, with a major
component being the history of the native peoples of the American Northwest.
One of the attractions of a visit to a wild,
largely empty state like Alaska or the
Yukon is the passion people have for just
being there. The Yukon is part of, and
contiguous with, the rest of Canada, but
Alaska is full of people who want to get
away from the 'Lower 48', and are quite
happy at minus 30° for several months of
the year. They get around by floatplane
more so than by car: there are few roads
and even fewer railways (only two routes, as far as I know, one from Skagway in SE
Alaska, the starting point for the trek to the gold fields in ‘98, to Whitehorse, where the
narrow-gauge meets the Yukon river system, and the other is the mainline from
Fairbanks to Anchorage and just beyond into the Kenai peninsula). This latter almost
became a BBC commission: having seen our pilot for a film of the rescue of a dozen
Finnish steam locomotives from the scrapyard, they wanted the director and me for a
‘Great Railway Journey’ on that 600-mile Alaskan epic, with the late Carrie Fisher
presenting. Alas, it wasn’t to be – it turned out that ‘ours’ was a stand-by commission in
case any of the others in the series failed for whatever reason, and they didn’t.
This remnant of the early days of locomotion in the Yukon sits outside one of the best
little museums I’ve ever seen - to life and survival on this harsh frontier, with a major
component being the history of the native peoples of the American Northwest.

Whitehorse loco

One of the attractions of a visit to a wild, largely empty state like Alaska or the Yukon is the passion people have for just being there. The Yukon is part of, and contiguous with, the rest of Canada, but Alaska is full of people who want to get away from the 'Lower 48', and are quite happy at minus 30° for several months of the year.  They get around by floatplane more so than by car: there are few roads and even fewer railways (only two routes, as far as I know, one from Skagway in SE Alaska, the starting point for the trek to the gold fields in ‘98, to Whitehorse, where the narrow-gauge meets the Yukon river system, and the other is the mainline from Fairbanks to Anchorage and just beyond into the Kenai peninsula). This latter almost became a BBC commission: having seen our pilot for a film of the rescue of a dozen Finnish steam locomotives from the scrapyard, they wanted the director and me for a ‘Great Railway Journey’ on that 600-mile Alaskan epic, with the late Carrie Fisher presenting.  Alas, it wasn’t to be - it turned out that ‘ours’ was a stand-by commission in case any of the others in the series failed for whatever reason, and they didn’t.

This remnant of the early days of locomotion in the Yukon sits outside one of the best little museums I’ve ever seen - to life and survival on this harsh frontier, with a major component being the history of the native peoples of the American Northwest.


 
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