A2A: The Alaska to Alberta Project
The A2A is a current proposal to extend a rail line from Ft. McMurray, Alberta to Point MacKenzie, Alaska in order to provide a new shipping access for Alberta sands crude oil by way of an Alaska port. This is a dream to connect Alaska to the main North American rail system that goes back over 120 years when the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 first brought large numbers of prospectors and others into the interior of Alaska and the Yukon.
A2A has a specific proposed route that runs through mostly Native-owned territory through Canada before connecting to an expanded Alaska Railroad at Delta Junction.
The Start: Chitina Local of the CRNW Railway:
When Ron Simpson, owner of the Copper Rail Depot and Uncle Nicolai's Inn & Hostel B&B, first purchased the Copper Center Bar in 1996--the nucleus for his existing businesses, he planned to run a model railroad in G ("Garden") scale inside the existing bar to highlight elements of the historic Chitina Local Branch of the Copper River & Northwestern Railway--the copper ore line that connected Kennecott Copper, near McCarthy, to Chitina and on to the port of Cordova. He chose the Chitina Local segment that included the towns of Chitina, McCarthy, and Kennecott itself.
Kennecott became the obvious center piece of the model railroad. But in order to make enough room for even a small section of the industrial town, Ron determined it would be necessary to extend to model from the bar to the outside at a level above the doors and windows of the bar.
The original Chitina Local of the CRNW Railway layout as of 2001
(Click for larger image)
The original garden railway was in place by 2001. By 2006, Ron began a new modern mainline railway that extended well beyond the original Kennecott layout. At first it was dominated by Great Northern railroad stock. And thus was initially named the Great Northern Mainline. But Ron's vision of a model railroad was one that extended from the Lower 48 states into Alaska. So he had to come up with a more-fitting name that included other railroad companies as well.
The extended layout, the Great Northern Mainline, soon became the Alaska-Canada Exchange Railway System, aka: ALCANEX !
(Click map for larger image)
ALCANEX would soon include elements of other rail lines besides the Great Northern Railway, to include AmTrak, Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, BNSF, Northern Pacific, xMilwaukee Road, and the Alaska Railroad, among others.
The AKRR at Cicely (click image for larger one)
The mythical town of Cicely--borrowed from the 1990s TV series "Northern Exposure," much as Kennecott was the center of the original historic rail line, was planned to be the centerpiece of the Great Northern Mainline. It was completed in 2008.
By the time the track was laid through Cicely and ultimately underneath Cicely in two more levels until reaching ground level at the Sulphur Springs Wye, it was 2012. The original overhead track to Kennecott was partly abandoned in favor of the ALCANEX line and Kennecott was cut off as an active destination. It was not to be re-connected until 2016 when an extension from Cicely was finally completed.
All of this would eventually become the nucleus from an expanded ALCANEX system inspired by the A2A proposal.
In 2019 the abandoned section of line that connected the bar and the overhead town of Chitina to McCarthy and Kennecott was rebuilt. Thus all of the landmark locations were once again connected from the Mainline to Kennecott.
(Click either image for a larger map)