Whittier, AK

It's really hot right now in Southern California, 108 degrees F at my house today.  It hasn't rained here for a long time either, this is the driest year on record.  I found myself thinking about nice cool, rainy places and started looking through some old photos.  I was reminded of Whittier Alaska.

This small town is called the weirdest city in Alaska for a number of reasons.  It's located on the Prince William Sound and has an ice free, deep water port.  It rains substantially here and because of the cloud cover it was hidden from satellites most of the time.  Because of the port, the rain and it's strategic location the the military established a base here and built some large structures during the cold war.  Access to the town was restricted until recently and only trains could use the tunnel connecting Whittier to the rest of Alaska.

Now you can drive through the tunnel to Whittier and visit this unique location.  We did in 2003.  The tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America, 2.5 miles.  It's also the longest shared train and highway tunnel.  Here are a few photos that are helping me remember what cool rain feels like...

AK2003-1.jpgThe entrance portal to the Whittier Tunnel

AK2003-4.jpgDriving the tunnel

AK2003-2.jpgThe Begich Tower was originally built by the military as the Hodge Building. It looks out of place in this small coastal town and is now home to most of the people in town.

AK2003-3.jpgThe Buckner Building was once the largest in Alaska. It was a city under one roof and meant to house thousands of military personnel. Now abandoned and full of asbestos this relic stands as a memorial to the cold war.

There's more to the story of Whittier than these photos show. It's home to the 26 Glacier Cruise, great fishing, beautiful scenery and nice people. The fast ferry from Valdez visits here as well as cruise ships. I'd like to return one day.

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This page contains a single entry by published on August 29, 2007 11:14 PM.

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