03 November 2010

Ch 10, Pt 1, "Abercrombie Rapids Landing"

Chapter 10:  "Abercrombie Rapids Landing"

All of the images below can be clicked
for larger photo or drawing

A small
passenger consist headed by locomotive #100--a mogul--is backed
up on the Cordova wharf
.  --UAF, Julie Sweeney
Collection, 97-139-434

I have always been fascinated by the railroad. From
the moment I saw that first locomotive approach Chitina in September of
1910 I was hooked. It was the first standard-gauge railroad to enter the
interior of the territory, having crossed the Chugach Range to enter our
valley. The CRNW began at a wharf near Cordova at Orca Inlet. The large
terminal there included a roundhouse as large as the one constructed at
Ship Creek for the new government railroad that began out of Seward.
Alaska Steamship Lines could dock up to four of its vessels at the
Cordova wharf. It was impressive.

Walkway and
railroad trestle approach to the Cordova wharf, c. 1911 
--UAF, Mrs. E.P. Harwood Collection, 79-93-299

Mom wanted to visit Dad at Abercrombie before continuing on to see some
  of her friends at Eyak. She brought my brother Charles and me to see the places 
  Dad surveyed down to the wharf at Cordova where the railroad originated. We were 
anxious to see where it began after watching a succession of ore trains
travel by us on their way to the Bonanza mine at Kennecott for the last
four years.

An early 
railroad scene at CRNW mile 104, three miles north of Tiekel, on
the Copper River. 
--UAF, W.F. Erskine Collection,

  We caught one of the trains headed south from Chitina depot
  in mid-June of 1914. Our overnight stop was to be Abercrombie Rapids 
  Landing, mile 55 at the head of the canyon where Dad was working what 
  was to be his final surveying job for the railroad.

 Then  we were to continue on down the line to Cordova  to visit the coastal people 
known as Eyaks, just as we in the Copper Valley are known as the Ahtna.
  Mom told us she had friends there.  The railroad had a long-standing policy 
 of providing free rides to Indians who lived along the railway, thanks to an old
deal between Nicolai and Stephen Brich.  Otherwise we  might not have been able 
to make this trip at all.  Those rides were too expensive for us at 12 1/2 cents a mile. 

No comments: