The Seward Peninsula Railway

The Seward Peninsula Railway was the larger of two railroads on Alaska's Seward Peninsula, and also the more successful operation. Partly constructed from the earlier Wild Goose Railroad and Nome Arctic Railway, the line eventually ran over 76 miles northward from Nome, AK to a point known as Bunker Hill, near a village known as Shelton, AK. The line began service in 1906, supplanting the Council City and Solomon River Railroad, known as "The Last Train to Nowhere". (Right of way)

Image: "First passenger train over Nome River bridge, Seward Peninsula Railway, Nome, July 17, 1906" Photo by F.H. Nowell, 4984. MSCUA, University of Washington Libraries

Just north of Nome, the line was easy to construct. But the more inland the company got, the more varied the terrain was. Through the Pilgrim River and Nome Valley, the road had 128 bridges and trestles.

Terminus of the Wild Goose Railroad at Anvil Creek

The summer thaw also made construction treacherous, as flooding was a major concern along the line.

Originally transporting gold, after 1910 operations became much more sporadic, with less and less demand for freight transportation.

In 1921, the Alaska Road Commission purchased the line, intending to find a regular operator for it, and while it was rehabbed during the 1920's, this ultimately did not come to fruition. Nonetheless, the railroad became widely used by citizens, and miners, who attached flanged wheels to automobiles or wagons.

In 1941, the US Government purchased the line to use for military operations, who used it extensively during the war.

During the 1950's, a tourist train briefly operated along the right of way, which was the last time the railroad operated. Despite being abandoned for over 60 years, the frozen Alaskan Tundra has preserved the right of way quite well in many places, including the video below from 1960, showing some abandoned cars along the old line.

Thanks as always for reading!


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