whittier tunnel history

December 6, 2020 in Uncategorized

[8], In 1944, it was estimated by Otto Ohlson, General Manager of the Alaska Railroad, that the Whittier cutoff allowed the Alaska Railroad to carry “approximately 75 percent more freight traffic with existing equipment than would have been possible through the Seward Gateway.” [9]. Beginning October 28, 2018 through April 30, 2019, the tunnel will have early closures for construction. Otto F. Ohlson, General Manager of the Alaska Railroad (left), shakes hands with Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, Jr. (right), after holing through blast. Be sure to check out the local attractions on your drive, from numerous photo stops along scenic … Whittier was closer to Anchorage, and it was decided to construct an extension of the railroad from Portage to Whittier.” [3], In Southcentral Alaska, this second port, Whittier, provided a safer, more secure life line to Alaska on the route which became Alaska’s main supply link for the war effort. The work will take place from 8:45 pm to 6:30 am. By the spring of 1942, rapid progress was made at the Whittier Tunnel, but not at the Portage Tunnel, where a lack of power to operate the equipment slowed construction. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, better known as the Whittier Tunnel, is the longest dual-use, or bimodal, highway tunnel in North America. The nearby Whittier Glacier was named for American poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1915, and the town eventually took the name as well. Interior Secretary Harold Ickes ordered that the Seward-Portage route not be closed, and it was kept in operation. Work on the rail bed began in the summer of 1941, and continued through the winter, with crews clearing ten to fifteen-foot snow drifts, and regularly working in winds from twenty to thirty miles per hour and zero temperatures. It promises Alaskans cheaper transportation that permits greater industrial activity, lower living costs and permanent development.” [1]. On November 21, 1942, the Anchorage Daily Times announced the holing through of the Whittier tunnel through a rock formation to provide access to the new port of Whittier on Passage Canal, an arm of Prince William Sound. History, tunnel facts, operational information, and construction details are available on this website. Whittier’s development can be deciphered in buildings still in use today. This video is about motorcycling through the 2.5 mile long Whittier Tunnel in south-central Alaska. The first part of the tunnel route was constructed in the early 1900s by the military during World War II as a passage acting as the main supply route for goods to and from Whittier. Driving towards Whittier, the tunnel opens for 15 minutes at the bottom of every hour. 1, Whittier Tunnel Construction Papers, 1941; Olavi V. Kukkola Papers, 1941-1964 (HMC-1084), Box 1; Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with Whittier and is the only land access to the town. Benjamin B. and Virginia M. Talley, “Building Alaska’s Defenses in World War II,” In Alaska at War, 1941-1945:  The Forgotten War Remembered, Fern Chandonnet, ed. Ensuring the safety of tunnel users is the top priority. William H. Wilson, Railroad in the Clouds:  The Alaska Railroad in the Age of Steam, 1914-1945 (Boulder, Co.:  Pruett Publishing Co., 1977, 253. The work week begins Sunday evening and ends Friday mornings. The walking tour map with short history is located at the P-12 Motor Pool building across the street from the pedestrian tunnel. May 1 to September 30: Open daily 5:30 am to 11:15 pm, Effective October 1 to April 30 – Open daily 7:00 am to 10:45 pm. Most construction supplies to meet the needs of the Alaska supply effort had to be shipped from Seattle by sea, and Alaska itself lacked a land-based transportation infrastructure of harbor facilities, airports, railroads, and highways, which was being quickly assembled by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. The importance of a railroad route between Turnagain Arm and Passage Canal was realized much earlier by the builders of the Alaska Central Railway, but it was not until 1914 when a seven-man topographical party carefully mapped this route for the Alaskan Engineering Commission. This work is designed to improve the tunnel for the future. See also, Anton A. Anderson to Major A.E. Known by locals as the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain. As described by historian William H. Wilson: “The party noted Passage Canal’s drenching rains but saw no obstacles to port, townsite, and terminal developments. The earliest evidence of the Portage Valley being used for transportation dates back to early A.D, when the Inuit people used the flat, low-lying valley as a pass through the Chugach Mountains. You can enjoy it either in your car or onboard the Alaska Railroad. Lisa Mighetto and Carla Homstad, Engineering in the Far North:  A History of the U.S. Army Engineer District in Alaska, 1887-1992 (Missoula, MT:  Historical Research Associates, Inc., 1997), 64-68. (a) The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, including associated vehicle staging areas, and the section of the road commonly known as the Portage Glacier Highway between milepost 5.1, near Portage Creek, Alaska, and the Whittier Ferry Terminal is designated as a toll facility. Later, the passage was used by Russian and American explorers, and by prospecting miners during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Whittier port, navigable year-round by ocean vessels, provided a shortcut to a new and improved deep water outlet on Passage Canal (a trip to Seward added 52 more miles). The tunnel accommodates two lanes of traffic and a full paved roadway shoulder. In an elaborate ceremony on March 10, 1943, the West Construction Company was presented with the Army-Navy Production Award or “E” Pennant, the highest award given to private industry for meritorious service. Please check the project webpage for more construction information at http://www.whittiertunnelmaint.com/ We appreciate your patience and understanding during this period. Done six months ahead of schedule, the 13,000-foot hole stands as a permanent answer to the Japanese menace, to the scoffers who said it was ‘impossible’ and to those people who plan to make Alaska their home in future years. William F. Willingham, Northwest Passages:  A History of the Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Volume II, 1920-1970 (Seattle:  Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1992-2006), 37; https://cdm16021.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll4/id/152 (accessed January 4, 2020). As then Colonel Benjamin Talley, Officer in Charge, Alaska Construction, later wrote, “There was a large wooden trestle on the Alaska Railroad between Anchorage and Seward. Whittier Harbor. The two tunnels were separated by Bear Valley and drilled through the Chugach Mountains. The tunnel tells the slant-eyed Jap that Uncle Sam is going to keep his forces supplied in Alaska and has no intention of leaving the great Northland vulnerable to the rape of the yellow hordes. One of the unique features of Whittier is a 2.5-mile long tunnel that is shared by alternating one-way auto traffic and railroad traffic. From a camp at Portage Valley, Kukkola surveyed the south to the north end of the proposed Whittier Tunnel. Known by locals as the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain. Alaska Railroad Photograph Collection, Anchorage Museum (B1979.002.1806). Whittier Tunnel, Transportation & Public Facilities, State of Alaska Enjoy the unique experience of a trip to Whittier, Alaska, driving the longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America! To that end, the size of vehicles that can pass through the tunnel will be limited. With a new rail connection to Whittier, the area began to change. A track through Kenai Peninsula’s neck was possible if the railroad bored beneath the mountains 13,005 feet through the eastern mass, 4,960 feet through the western. Kiewit crews converted the 1940s-era railroad tunnel into a state-of-the-art multi-use rail/automobile tunnel. The scope of work for this $60 million project included increasing the crown height by an average of 1.5 feet to allow installation of six 75-hp jet fans. With the onset of war, though, the War Department determined that the rail line running from Seward to Portage, nearly 100 miles in length, made it vulnerable. “Watch your Step.” Climbing over debris after the final blast. Whittier, the gateway to Prince William Sound, has more than 700,000 visitors annually, and is one of the state’s largest tourist attractions. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel , the longest highway tunnel in North America, opened in June 2000 after extensive conversion from a World War Two railway tunnel. In 1998, the Whittier Tunnel, later renamed as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, was modified to handle both railroad and vehicle traffic. Vehicle Size Limitations and Tunnel Restrictions (Click here to view Tunnel Restrictions section at bottom of page) Vehicle Size Limitations. The tunnel will operate on the normal schedule Friday evening through Sunday morning, and during all holidays. It vindicates those proponents of the project who had the vision to see its military and economic necessity as well as its physical practicality. Alaska Railroad Cut Off, Alaska. The Whittier Tunnel tolls start at $13 for a car and prices raise from there for larger vehicles with more axles. In 1941, West Construction Company crews began working at the Passage Canal site, but their progress was hampered by a shortage of workers and supplies. James D. Bush, Jr., Narrative Report of Alaska Construction, 1941-1944 (Anchorage:  Construction Division Office, 1944), 122-125. There were supplemental agreements to the prime contract, in the amount of $7,774,236 for other phases of the Whittier Project. Prince William Sound, Alaska History, Alaska Women, Eliza Scidmore, Frederica DeLaguna, Dora Keen. 11:00 - 11:15 pm Whittier to Bear Valley It is recommended that tunnel users be in the staging area at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled opening to help us Construction of a massive railway tunnel was undertaken to … The Whittier Tunnel, November 20, 1942). Tunnel holing through ceremonies, November 20, 1942. 1-5, U.S. Milestone” [Editorial], Anchorage Daily Times, November 23, 1942, 2; and Souvenir Booklet, Holing Through the Whittier Tunnel, November 20, 1942; Drawer 2, File No. Driving through the two mile long, one lane Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is an interesting experience. Whittier is an easy 63-mile drive south of Anchorage on the scenic Seward Highway or Highway “1” on driving maps. On November 23, the Times editorialized in a patriotic, but partially racist, view of the project’s importance for the war effort and Alaska’s future development. The rail line cutoff to Whittier reduced exposure of ships to Japanese submarines and was safer from air attacks than the Seward route. The work at Whittier required boring a railroad tunnel 13,900 feet long (Whittier Tunnel), constructing a dock and terminal facility at Portage, building a shorter tunnel (Portage Tunnel, later called Moraine Tunnel, 4,910 feet long, on the west side of the project close to the moraine of nearby Portage Glacier), and the laying of fourteen miles of railroad track from Portage to Whittier. The $60 million Whittier Access Tunnel was Alaska's first design-build transportation project. Whittier is an easy 63-mile drive south of Anchorage on the scenic Seward Highway or Highway “1” on driving maps. It stated, in part: “HOLING THROUGH the Whittier railroad tunnel is a milestone to the development of Alaska. A bit blurry, but it was the best I was able to do from the car with the low light conditions. Mighetto and Homstad, Engineering in the Far North, 68; and File No. The most prominent headline of the November 21st edition declared, “Open Alaska Railroad Whittier Tunnel.”. For Current Hours and Updates Click Below, Copyright 2020 | Whittier Alaska Chamber of Commerce | All Rights Reserved, Glacier View Condo Suites Whittier Alaska. Whittier Tunnel Whittier, Alaska 23 Aug 2000 Driving through the Whittier Tunnel. The Whittier Tunnel, also called the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, is a single lane 2.5 mile long tunnel, shared by cars, trucks, RVs, and trains. The Whittier Tunnel, November 20, 1942). Once the military port of Whittier opened, plans had called for abandoning the rail line between Seward and Portage. Portage Glacier, the team reported, had receded and was no longer an obstacle to construction. Establishing a camp at Whittier, the engineers from Anderson’s party surveyed a site for the terminal, and determined the route from Whittier to the south portion of the Portage Tunnel. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with Whittier and is the only land access to the town. Holing through ceremonies on November 20, 1942. In 2000, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel was overhauled for auto traffic and now is the longest 'railroad-highway' tunnel in North America at 2.7 miles. On June 1, 1943, the Whittier rail line opened with train connections to Anchorage and to Fairbanks. The tunnel provides access for Whittier to the road system. Website by Little Bird Design Studio.aLL pHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ANCHORAGE MUSEUM COLLECTIONS. In the fall of 1942, the West Construction Company, Alaska Railroad, and troops from the 42nd and 177th Engineer General Service Regiments and the 714th Railroad Battalion laid the track from Portage to Whittier. The holing through ceremony was covered by the Anchorage Daily Times on November 21 and 23, the extracts of which were published in pamphlet form (Holing Through.

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