Palmer to Chickaloon

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  • States: Alaska   
  • Railroads: AKRR   
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(Forwarded from the Alaska Railroad)

This abandoned railway line was a branch line of the original Alaska Railroad, chartered in 1914. It started at a connection with the AKRR mainline at Palmer, AK, and ran northeastward to Chickaloon in order to serve the coal fields there. The area around the mines at Chickaloon helped foster populating growth within the immediate area, but just as soon as the city grew, so did it decline, as the coal mined in there was not as profitable as newly-discovered oil in California. Thus the mine's output followed the diminishing demand, and it finally shuttered its doors. This spur that served the mine was thus abandoned in the late 1930s.

Today, the lower portion of the right-of-way in and north of Palmer serves as the Palmer-Moose Creek Railroad Trail.

This spur actually started South of Palmer about 6 miles at Matanuska Junction. Palmer didn't exist until the Colonists arrived in 1935 ( http://www.alaskafaraway.com/home.html).

The Chickaloon coal mine was a Naval Reserve area where the railroad terminated. The railroad also served the Jonesville & Eska coal mines near Sutton, Alaska and supplied coal to the military bases near Anchorage until natural gas was discovered in the Kenai area and piped to Anchorage in the early 1960's. Part of the spur still exists from Matanuska Junction to Palmer. My grandfather worked at the Eska coal mine in the early 1920's and I have an aunt 103 yrs. old (2012) living in Morton, WA who was the only woman at the Jonesville mine, her husband ran the boilers and generators.

George Hanson
Girdwood, AK
1/6/2012

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