03 November 2010

Ch 10, Pt 3: "Abercrombie Rapids Landing"

Chapter 10, Pt 3: 
 "Abercrombie Rapids Landing" 

The images below can be clicked
for larger photo or drawing

Dip netting
for salmon along the Abercrombie Rapids. 
--UAF, E.B.
Schrock, 84-80-38

Across the river from us was a long, steep cliff wall. To our backs was
a similar rocky wall rising through heavy-growth willows and alders and
other brush near the track grade until the rocky surface in its extreme
height left its plant coverings behind. According to Dad’s map, the
ridge rose to about 3500 feet, shooting nearly straight up from the
narrow river base. The narrow canyon could get very dark during the
night time, though this time of year the sun barely dipped below the
horizon over the ocean. Instead we viewed long shadows which made the
river almost invisible as everything dimmed for a few hours.

I could barely see the most distant snowshed from our campsite as the
shadows filled in the lowest parts of the canyon. That snowshed tunnel
was the first one to be completed in this section of the five new ones
which would ultimately be constructed. The frame of the second was
already a heavy timber skeleton, while the third one existed only as a
large pile of large timbers sitting in neat rows beside the tracks.
Those were the only ones we could see.

1939 aerial of
the Million Dollar Bridge, mile 49, looking northeast in the
direction of mile 55, Abercrombie Rapids Landing, of which the
southern end is the first cut seen in the photo

NOTE: The larger picture to which this one is linked is very
large in order to show details that are available in the
original high-resolution image.  --UAF,
Bradford Washburn Collection, #2093

Beyond the canyon to the southeast we could see tall peaks in the
distance. These appeared to be permanently capped with snow. It was
pitch black to our north, but light to the south revealed the summits of
some of the southeastern peaks of the Chugach Range. They were
highlighted by the long rays of the very distant sun setting over the
Gulf of Alaska.

Then I could hear it. I’d been waiting for that sound. Somewhere in the
 darkness to our south a work train was  rumbling towards us. That 
unmistakable first faint sound was the announcement coming from the
 steam whistle. Most likely we were hearing the whistle from somewhere 
near the  Million Dollar Bridge, five miles south of us. Tomorrow we would 
 cross that famous bridge. 

The canyon opened up just north of the steel bridge, which was five
miles south of us. The railroad steam sounds carried right through the
 canyon according to Dad. He was right.  It would not be too long before 
 I would be able to feel the rumble of that train coming through the steel tracks.

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