ALASKA TRIP AUGUST 2021 – Part IV
Still working on catching up – #6
The next morning (the day after Donnie Rosie headed home to Corry) Norm and I had a couple of more appointments in Nome before we began packing up to catch the 1:00pm flight to Anchorage ourselves.
Later that afternoon we checked into our hotel in downtown Anchorage and found a great Mexican Restaurant just two blocks away for dinner. This part of the trip had originally been scheduled for the beginning of our trip to Alaska …to meet up with Erik Christenson and to be able to spend several days again looking through the various storage units and the log-cabin areas in search of the now-known missing parts. Erik’s work schedule ended up getting flipped which changed everything for us… not the way we really wanted to conduct this trip… but it was important that we do the best we could to accomplish as many of our objectives as we could this year… there was no way for us to maintain our original itinerary.
Erik arrived late that evening from the North Slope and the following morning he had several appointments and wouldn’t be available until that afternoon, so we did a bit of walking around downtown Anchorage that morning. We got to check out the sister engine to the “557” being restored in Wasilla… the “556” has been on display in Merrill Park in downtown Anchorage for many years. the 556 was a sister engine, both being US Army Consolidated engines, type S-160’s, Both engines were shipped to Alaska early in WWII. Of about 2200 of them built, only22 or so exist today. We had a late breakfast at one of the well known eateries in Anchorage, unbeknownst to us, the White Spot Cafe is rated by the periodical “Food & Wine” to have the best sandwich in the State of Alaska. If I had realized that, I might have tried one of their “Fresh caught Halibut Sandwiches” instead of a regular burger… I noticed the sign on the way out the door. Erik picked us up and over the next day and a half we spent time in search of the missing parts.
Not much was found on the first day. A key was missing for one of the locations, which was disappointing…. and we developed nothing new in the Storage unit we were able to get into. We were able to stop by and see Pat Durand at the 557 shop and give him an update on the Nome portion of the trip. It was getting late as we headed back to Anchorage where we were going to grab some dinner… but it seemed that every restaurant we went to had a two-hour wait… we finally ended up back at the Mexican restaurant for a good meal.
The next morning Erik called and he had to spend some time with a contractor getting him situated on a project Erik is involved with. By the time Erik could break loose and pick us up, we headed straight to the next units… not much of anything in the second unit but within minutes of getting into the third unit we did locate several of the most important missing parts. We also found some outstanding photographs we had not seen before.
Erik’s time off this trip was filled with some minor surgery and Dental appointments and several other scheduled annual tests and interviews, so our time in Anchorage was compressed. In fact Erik was scheduled for surgery the next morning. There are still some places we weren’t able to get into that haven’t been searched completely yet… Hopefully Erik will be able to get into them this next Spring. It was getting late and we headed back into Anchorage for a quick meal and then bid adieu… till we meet again.
With the extra parts accumulating from Nome and Anchorage it became a juggling act in making sure our bags weren’t overweight now that we were bringing back about 60lbs of extra parts, pieces and materials. We had rescheduled our flights home, and the next morning we were flying out, headed back to Corry. With the re-booking it put Norm and me in different rows… and of course it was a full flight with our stop over changing from Minneapolis to Chicago, and with barely enough time to make it to our connecting flight to Cleveland. Our good friend and supporter, Tom Grice picked us up in Cleveland and he came fully prepared with water, coffee, soda… whatever we wanted and a assortment of munchies as well…. even bags of popcorn…. Thanks Tom! We arrived home in the very early morning hours of Labor Day…. Thank goodness… it was going to take me most of the day to unpack and do laundry… and then a few days to get my body back on East Coast time.
What a trip… met a bunch more interesting people from all over, including some from right here in Pennsylvania, imagine that!! We learned about some of the ins and outs of the Archive systems in the University Library… found some interesting photos and videos… made some great connections in the Fairbanks area… were able to lay our hands on some original Climax Parts which very few have ever seen… got some important measurements we didn’t have before in order to make templates for some parts… thanks to Donnie we conducted more than a half a dozen taped interviews and gathered more “B” roll for our future Documentary… made some interesting discoveries about some unknown engineering items from Climax not seen before or reported on… met the folks out in the Council area, and I think we are invited back … and spent time familiarizing ourselves with the Ophir and Council mining district… found and saw some Climax items which we never knew existed previously… located about 60# of missing parts… and to top it all off we were given, and brought home, the one and only Climax A-313 Builder Plate. Another successful mission.
As with most investigations, you learn a lot, but a lot of what you learn tends to raise more questions which need to be answered. Will there be another Alaska trip? Quite possibly… we have scratched the surface, and now dig deeper. Funds will have to be raised to make it happen. Anyone who would specifically like to help fund those future searches and investigations and add to the Climax knowledge base, we would love to hear from you… a special one-on-one update as to some of the things we would like to accomplish could be arranged. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s the end of the update on the Corry RAILS 2021 Alaska trip.