Carl’s Report from Day 2 (Tuesday)

Day No. 2 of Rescue 313 began this morning with a breakfast meeting with Donnie & Tonya Rosie, Erik Christenson, Tom and myself just to bring Donnie and Tonya up to speed on what the plans for the day were. Overcast but not raining here in Palmer looked to be the order of the day, at least here in Palmer. Weather can change quickly here as we are approaching the changing of the Seasons, and what you have here may be totally different 5 to 10 miles away as we are in a long valley with mountains to the East which can trap a weather system for extended periods.

Soon we were off… splitting up today… Tom went with Donnie and Tonya to capture some shots in towards Anchorage and along the AKRR tracks heading to the Port of Whittier. Once they got in towards Anchorage, and all down the Turnagain Arm to Whittier, they had off and on rain for most of the day. In talking with Tom this evening I know they saw some very unique sites and I am sure got some footage for use in our future video and stories.

As for me, I was off with Erik in his truck headed a little over an hour southwest to a location we had visited in 2018… a little cabin where Keith Christenson, Erik’s dad, had seemingly planned to eventually move the Climax and build a home site. How do we know that? you ask… well Keith had already laid some Railroad track at 36″ apart to start placing the trucks on. It is a pretty remote location and when we had been there two years ago we did find some parts for A-313 in a container. Over the last year Erik has been cleaning up the site as time and weather allow and had come across what he suspected to be a small pallet of wood from the Climax, so we were off to check it out.

When we arrived Erik pointed me toward the pallet… there was some pieces that definitely looked like the could have some from A-313… looked to be oak and mostly broken or already rotted pieces, far worse that what is in the Intermodal, and certainly even worse from having been stored in the elements for at least another six years… but, in looking at each piece, there were some unique angled cuts, grooves and recesses which we may learn something from as we sort out the puzzle once she is home.

I still wasn’t sure if what I was looking at was from the Climax… and then I moved one of the last pieces and there was a piece of tin which I recognized from a photo shared with me by Richard Dunn which Rich had taken many years ago when he had visited Keith to view and research the A-313, about the time that he, Dennis Thompson and Steve Hauff were working on the big “Climax” book published in 2001 I believe. This piece of tin was from the floor cut to wrap around the rear of the Firebox… and when I lifted that up, underneath was the remnants of a removable floor panel from the Engineers side of the engine (left in the case of a Climax “A”) with a slot where the brace for the Reverser Quadrant goes to the base of the engine. As badly as many of these pieces looked, I just knew there were some stories to be told here and we loaded them up… some just crumbling in our hands. Also at the cabin was a wadded up bunch of tin roofing from when Keith stripped it off of the T&G roof slats. A few other misc. parts were located in the container as well.

A neighbor stopped by while we were strapping the load down, after seeing the gate to the property open… just to check things out… and some quite interesting conversation ensued for a few minutes before we were on our way back to towards Palmer and the Intermodal site. We did run into a little bit of drizzle on this trip, but not too bad.

By the time we got everything unloaded into another trailer, a curtain-van which we will be using over the next few days, it was after 4PM…. and we were off to one of the storage lockers to check out some of the parts we knew were there… checked some of them out and then Erik dropped me off back at the Eagle Hotel, since he had a 6 o’clock appointment. Tom had called to touch base and they were near Anchorage and headed to pick up the motor home to drop by the work-site on their way back to Palmer.

When Tom arrived we realized that neither of us had had anything to eat since breakfast, so time for a meal… and even some ice-cream to top off the day. Back in our room we discussed some of tomorrow’s activities and made a few phone calls to make sure everyone was on the same page…. turned on the TV… and guess what was on?… the neck-bomber story from Erie years ago…

Off until tomorrow… more organizing of trailers at the jobsite… a trip to the store to pick up some supplies… another trip to Wasilla to pick up some more material, and a few other details…. maybe even get into the other storage areas to begin moving some of the parts which were stored off-site.

On schedule so far, so stay tuned for Day No. 3.

Carl W