Back from Alaska…and waiting for the A-313….But not resting on our accomplishments.

It’s good to be home…. but what an adventure we have had over the past eleven days… The Climax A-313 is now on the move heading home to Corry, PA where it will undergo restoration back to life over the next several years.

Two of us, Tom VanTassel and myself, Carl Wassink, of Corry RAILS, headed up to Anchorage, Alaska on Sunday, Aug. 23rd as an Advanced Party to get things ready… We were then joined by two Videography and Camera people, Donnie and Tonya Rosie…. and followed soon by the rest of our crew Grady Smith, Steve Niederriter and Norm Thomas. We were one man down from what we had been planning on but thank goodness that was quickly overcome by some thirteen people showing up on various days to lend a hand and help… some current and ex-Corryites (or from the Corry area) as well as several very knowledgeable Railroading and Rail Preservation people, along with some energetic young neophytes to the subject and process. All-in-all we had about 20 people helping in one capacity or another over the 10 days.

A lot was accomplished in those 10 days, but I wouldn’t have wanted to try to do it in any less time than that. Some tasks took less time while others took much longer than projected, but the average brought us in on-time and on budget for Phase I with only a couple of hours to spare. I think back to the times when people asked me “…Do you really think it is going to take that long?” In truth I did… but in hindsight I wish I had added two more days as additional buffer… it would have made the gathering of parts easier and we may have found a couple of parts that Erik is still looking for… small parts but very important ones in the scheme of things. The good thing is that we know that they were there at one time and as meticulous as Keith was being we are betting that they are still there. The complexity was that we were assembling parts and pieces stored in 6 locations over a 70 mile range, and stored along with literally hundreds, if not thousands of other boxes and containers of “stuff”… some similar to some of our parts, mostly railroad related but with a mix of other items and memorabilia as well. Corry RAILS is not letting a few missing parts stop us at this point… there is a lot of work to be done before we need them, and now it helps that we and Erik all know exactly what we are looking for… a couple of hands full of parts, out of over 3000.

Over the ten days we managed to get some video footage of the transporting of the container, interviews with some of the key people and some shots of local scenery, have everyone enjoy a tour of the Alaska Railroad 557 Project shop, and take a tour of the Alaska Railroad maintenance shops in Anchorage. It was a wonderful trip, absolutely crammed with things to do nearly every minute of the day.

We are not sure exactly when the container will arrive home to Corry yet but it should happen before the end of October, at the latest… best guess… when we know for sure we will pass it along.

Because of the COVID situations with quarantines and testing for travel, we were forced to abandon the three days we had planned for research in Fairbanks as well as the 10-14 days planned for Nome. The focus on that part of our research efforts is now postponed until at least June of 2021, providing all of the restrictions are lifted, allowing us access.

A huge “Thank You” to the community and all of our contributors and donors who had faith in our ability to complete Phase I. Three years ago, about now, an idea was born and research and planning started, and it has only been 18 months since we began raising the funds and working through the process of bringing Climax A-313 home to Corry. The Three trips to Alaska have paid off and soon she will be home and the real work will begin. In the meantime we will be kicking off our Fund Raising Campaign for Phase II very soon. Please join in and help us make Phase II happen, if you are able to.

Carl W.

Please note, that the team and others will be working to raise the funds needed to restore the A-313. The “Buy-a-Mile” Campaign, as well as other upcoming events will be a chance to get involved in this project.