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 Post subject: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:48 am
Posts: 27
Location: Minnesota
To follow up my post with historic photos of the Council City & Solomon River RR, here are some old photos of the nearby narrow gauge line in Nome. This operation started as the Wild Goose Railroad in 1900 and laid 36" gauge track to Anvil City (Banner Station). In 1903 it was reorganized as the Nome Arctic Railway and in 1906 it became the Seward Peninsula Railway. Track expanded North to the town of Shelton (Lane's Landing), as well as some short branches East and West from Nome to smaller mining camps. A seven-mile "branch" was also built from Council City to Ophir Creek, but was not connected to the main line.

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The original rolling stock consisted of two 15-ton Class A Climax locomotives and a dozen flatcars. A third Climax with a fully enclosed box cab was added in 1902, with a 4th added later. One of these was used on the Council City branch.

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In 1906 the Seward Peninsula RR added an antique 0-6-0 Porter (The "Blue Mountain"). They also bought three Climax Class B locomotives in 1906 but found them too heavy for the light rails, and shipped them back to Washington State in 1907. Also in 1907 an 0-6-0 Baldwin was added from Alberta. Track ran into the town of Nome with spurs to several companies.

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All of these companies fought an ongoing battle against nature for the viability of the railroad. Frequent winter storms smashed a number of docks and damaged the beachfront warehouses and car shops. Tundra and permafrost made for a spongy, shifting roadbed which would not hold heavy trains and tended to form a roller coaster of bumps and dips over time.

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Gold mining petered out by 1910 and the railroad ceased regular steam operations. A wide variety of ad-hoc rolling stock began appearing after this point, with smaller mining companies and a few enterprising passenger operators running home-brew locomotives on the track. Local residents also began using small flatcars pulled by sled dog teams, known as "pupmobiles".

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The informal public-use nature of the railroad was made official in 1921 when the territory of Alaska purchased the line and operated it as an 87-mile public "tram road". The steam locomotives were inoperable by that point, so the Alaska Road Commission brought in or built a few gas locomotives and speeder cars. Locals continued attaching rail wheels to anything they could find or build, powered by everything from dogs to horses to gas and oil engines. The road commission enforced various rules, which is why you sometimes see license plates on trains in some historic photos!

At least one Climax was converted to internal combustion by a Mr. Kenney or Yenney, but could only run on the first 14 miles of track as it was too wide for the Nome River bridge. Some small transportation companies were organized using flanged-wheel automobiles and trucks.

The line saw larger locomotives again during WWII when the military brought in several Plymouth diesel switchers. These were found to be too heavy and were shipped off to Hawaii.

After the war, roads and cars had mostly replaced the railroad as the main transportation in the area. The line was cut up into small segments by collapsed bridges and new road construction. A few tourist train rides carried on into the early 1960s, until remaining track became too unstable or the equipment wore out.

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Today there are a variety of homemade locomotives and cars remaining around the Nome area. Some of the steam locomotives have been salvaged for preservation and display.

Most of the historic photos are from the Alaska State Library and Archives, various collections including the Alaska Road Commission Photograph Collection.

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 Post subject: Re: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:48 am
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Location: Minnesota
Since the forum limits 10 photos per post, here are some more.

An odd creature of the Nome mining ecosystem, the "Land Dredge". This contraption ran on rails rather than floating as its more common relatives did. A Seward Peninusla RR flatcar is in the upper left background:

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The first model of Yenney's (Kenney's?) passenger tram car, apparently built on the frame and trucks of a Climax locomotive with an internal combustion engine replacing the steam engine:

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A more refined version of Yenney's "express car". I'm not sure if this is a new cab on top of the Climax frame, or a different vehicle:

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The original steam locomotives abandoned in the yard, and being moved off to "graveyard" or "RIP Track" by the road commission:

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Road Commission locomotives and speeders, including a Fordson, a Whitcomb, and a Fairmont:

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 Post subject: Re: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Some of the more quirky vehicles found on the Nome-Shelton tramroad during the Road Commission years:

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 Post subject: Re: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:13 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:28 am
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Location: Suffolk, UK
A fascinating collection of photos which will potentially provide inspiration for some scratchbuilt rolling stock for my G scale garden railway!

Many thanks for posting them.

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 Post subject: Re: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
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Thanks for posting this. Regards, John.


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 Post subject: Re: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:24 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:48 am
Posts: 27
Location: Minnesota
Here are a few silent film clips from the 1920s and 30s showing some of the oddball rail vehicles used in Nome.

Flanged-wheel motor truck, Fordson locomotive, and a speeder:
http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm/ref/collect ... 1/id/35555

Pupmobile (dog powered railcar):
http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm/ref/collect ... 1/id/19780

And a film from 1960 exploring some of the abandoned rolling stock:
http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm/ref/collect ... 1/id/35521

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 Post subject: Re: Wild Goose Railroad, Nome AK
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:29 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2067
Location: Northern Illinois
Thanks for the additional videos. The 1960 video made me dig out the photos I took when Dad and I were in Nome in summer of 2000. It looks like that same equipment had been spruced up and was on display:

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I also have photos of two narrow gauge flatcars we found laying on the tundra about forty miles north of Nome on the Nome-Taylor highway. These look like they had possibly been flipped to strip the hardware, but that was never done. From the dates on the wheels, these must have been second hand when they came to Alaska.

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I apologize, it seems my scanner is putting a line in the image. Guess it's time for a new scanner.

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