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Re: White Pass & Yukon steam restoration progress

July 19, 2017 11:18AM
Brian Norden Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The railroad is advertising on its website a
> steam-powered excursion operated three days a week
> for cruise ship passengers. It goes over the pass
> and another six miles to Fraser Meadows and
> returns.
>
> BN

Hi Stan,

Brian is correct. Although the steam engines (mostly the 73) appear heavily in the railroad's publicity photos, web pages, etc., the WP&YR is primarily a diesel-powered operation, running over a dozen trains a day during busy periods. As Brian noted, there are just 3 steam trips a week. The railroad has two steam engines, including the 2-8-2 #73 and the 2-8-0 #69. The 73 is the primary with the 69 only coming out if the 73 is not available. The 73 is superheated and only needs to water in Skagway and at Fraser. Unfortunately, the saturated 69 needs water support at Glacier siding, so it requires extra effort to preposition water cars for that purpose. The 69 also has a deckless cab and doesn't have great ergonomics. Looking at the White Pass Facebook page, it does appear that 73 is active this year. Not sure where the 69 stands, but she is probably stored operable.

The WP&YR also maintains Rotary Snow Plow #1. Although rotary runs are rare (they clear the line with bulldozers in the spring), I was fortunate to be there back in 2011 when they did the spring line-clearing with the rotary and the two steam engines. That remains the coolest photo excursion I have ever been on. Photos here, if you are interested.

At least around the time of my visit, it appeared as if the railroad was interested in re-acquiring another 70-class engine. I did hear stories that representatives had approached the people at Dollywood in Tennessee, regarding a derelict 70-class which that operation has yet to restore. They apparently were not interested in restoring one of several WWII "MacArthur" 2-8-2s that still exist, including one in Skagway. Since my visit, much of the railroad management has changed, including the President, the Superintendent, as well as several of the PR folks. It is difficult to say if there is any possibility that the steam program would ever be expanded.

/Kevin Madore
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White Pass & Yukon steam restoration progress

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