and The Copper River & Northwestern Railway
mainline garden railway
The ALCANEX-Alaska-Canadian Extension Railway System-is based on a 100+ year-old proposal that would connect the American stateside railroad system with the Alaska Railroad and continue on to Nome where an 80+ mile bridge or tunnel would cross the Bering Sea to tie in with the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
Thus this model line features a variety of western-USA railroad road names such as the Great Northern, the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe, the Milwaukee Road, the Northern Pacific, AmTrak, among others, and the Alaska Railroad plus the White Pass and the Copper River & Northwestern Railway (CRNW).
The original project began overhead in the CRD building, running along the inside walls of the bar. In 2000, the Kennecott model structure was built to house a model of the northern end of the Kennecott Copper mill town (abandoned in 1938) and was tied in to the bar line in 2001, thus making this the first and only publicly-accessible outdoor model railroad of this scale to be located this far north anywhere in the world.
In 2006-2008, the line was extended as a modern railroad system under the name Great Northern Mainline. It has since been extended several times until reaching the layout you see in the map below: an estimated 1500 feet of elevated track.
The original layout was the "Chitina Local" section of the CRNW Railway--Chitina to Kennecott, featuring elements of Chitina; the Copper River steel bridge crossing at MP 132; the Gilahina trestle; McCarthy and Kennecott.
Kennecott was a mill town servicing five mines approximately 4000 feet above the mill along Bonanza Ridge. At the time it was the richest copper ore ever found in commercial quantities. The CRNW ran the 196 mile line from Kennecott to the port of Cordova from 1911 until abandonment in 1938.
The layout you see is in 1:24 scale. It is run on no particular schedule during the summer months. The tracks and structures are left to winter it out while the rolling stock is brought indoors for winter storage.
Ron Simpson designed the models you see along the layout. He is pictured here in 1997 with his newly-completed Kennecott mill model.
A line-up of five Great Northern FA-FB units: This, along with a huge passenger consist that lashes up to these locomotives provides the nucleus for the GREAT NORTHERN MAINLINE, which is in turn a part of the ALaska-CANada-EXtension Railway--ALCANEX.