In Skagway Alaska, we caught a sightseeing train from the sea up into White Pass. I took this just after we reversed directions to head back down.
The whole trip I hung out between the cars where I could get pictures of the landscape. On the way up we were in the first car behind the engine. Then the train pulled into a siding and the locomotive connected to the other end and, as you can see, we were at the back.
It was pretty high up, and the weather dropped about forty-degrees. Skagway used to be a mining town, and in the Klondike days before the train, miners would traverse the pass on foot or mule. That would be a hard slog indeed, so I was glad to be on a train with its trusty breaks all the way back down.
Here is a shot of the train we took from Seward to Anchorage a couple of years back. It was at the end of a cruise, and the only way back to the airport was a four-hour train ride through the mountains. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun.
I ended up roaming the train, back and forth through the cars like a kid in a candy shop. I would stop between the cars to take pictures of the scenery rushing by. This is how travel was meant to be.
If you stayed in your seat, they would come around and take your order for food and drinks. Unlike an airplane, you have a lot of space to stretch out and enjoy the meal. But I was on my feet most of the time, quite often at the front near the engine snapping photos like this.
This is a spot I like to photograph. There are a lot of reasons but the main one is that the tracks form a leading line across the river. We are drawn to leading lines because they provide a sense of movement and direction. For some reason that’s important to us at an instinctual level.
Maybe the rules of photography are based on some primal desire for survival. If that’s true it’s an interesting idea and, all the more reason to break the rules once in a while. That might mean considering compositions that will not lead us back to safety.
I know I’m drawing a long bow, but writing about photos as I do forces me to think about these things. Let’s just say I do more than my fair share of introspection. In the end, I would really prefer to just get out and take pictures and worry about the intellectual stuff later. Or, not worry at all.
This is on the White Pass and Yukon Route railway outside Skagway. If you ever get a chance to visit this part of Alaska I recommend an excursion on the White Pass. It winds its way up a mountain range from the sea with spectacular scenery at every turn.
The best part for me is that each car has an outside platform where I could stand and take photos. I hardly sat in my seat the entire three hours. On the way up we were in the first car behind the engine. When reached the pass at the top of the mountain we pulled onto a siding where the engine relocated to the other end of the train. Now heading down the mountain I had an unobstructed view out the back of the train. This was one of a couple of tunnels high up the mountain.
There’s nothing quite like traveling through a tunnel on a train. This one is near the top of the mountain so when you come out the other end there are amazing vistas. As we were on the last car I shot this looking back as the entrance receded into darkness. In the next moment we came out along a high slope where we could see dozens of miles out to the sea below. Put this one on your list of things you must do.
If you visit Alaska perhaps one the places you will see is Skagway. The biggest employer in that town is the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. It winds from the sea port up the mountains into British Columbia. If you like trains then add this to your list because not only is the scenery spectacular there’s a lot of history preserved in these trains and the rail museum in town.
We took an excursion up to the top of the pass which takes about an hour-and-a-half one-way. On the way up we were in the first car behind the engine but on the way back the engine reattached to the other end and we were at the rear. That afforded me the chance to stand out the back and capture this other train as we entered the main track from a siding.
This is a popular attraction and for good reason. When we booked the trip there were no more standard tickets so we booked the first class parlor car. Boy, that was nice, we had soft cushioned seats, an attendant and all the food and drink we wanted. However I couldn’t manage to sit still, I preferred to stand on the outside platform taking picture most of the way. When we finally got back to lower elevations I came back in the coach to find everyone asleep in their comfortable chairs. That was pretty funny, but I’m still glad I stood outside and enjoyed the scenery from the cheap seats, even if I did pay for a comfy chair inside.
This is the morning Tropicana Train crossing the river on the way to the plant. Bradenton is across the river and trains cross this river day and night to drop off fruit and load up orange juice to take all over North America. Whenever I travel and visit a grocery store, I like to look at the OJ container to see the “Made in Bradenton” label on the box. Don’t ask me why, kind of a silly thing I guess.