Yakutat to Situk

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  • States: Alaska   
  • Railroads: Y&S   

The Yakutat and Southern Railroad

Picture Point of Interest

GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

Showing of

Photo by Lew Picton, August 2008.

The Yakutat and Southern Railroad was a unique railroad in the United States: its sole freight commodity was raw fish. Not only that, its schedule depended on both the tide each day, and the fishing season itself; thus, the railroad would lay dormant during the winter.

The Y&S began operations in 1903, with the express purpose of hauling fresh-caught raw fish from the Situk River to the cannery wharf in Yakutat, 11 miles to the north. Fishermen would bring their salmon to Johnson Slough on the Situk River and load it onto a Y&S train. The train would then take the fish north to Yakutat, where they would be off-loaded at a canning facility, where they would be canned and shipped from Monti Bay, a deep-water port within Yakutat.

The cannery in Yakutat which was served by the Y&S filed for bankruptcy in 1971, thus bringing to an end the Y&S and the over 60 years of hauling raw fish. Surprisingly, the cannery is still operated today, but is not served by any railroad. Various Y&S equipment can be found in a city park about a mile outside of Yakutat.

A unique and interesting story. The "Other Sites and Information" link provided a great deal of information.

Does anyone know if the cannery still receives fish from the Situk River, and if so, has anyone ever thought of looking into re-opening the railroad? Accordingly, is the right-of-way still intact or railbanked, or has it been sold off or returned to local landowners?

Kevin M. Smith
Cicero, NY


Yes, the processing plant (Old Cannery) receives salmon from the Situk River and a number of other rivers as well. Today, the road that was built in 1973, allows trucks to haul the fish to town for processing (fresh and frozen).

There are plans to renovate the railroad and restore the locomotives and cars. The right of way is still intact and the first 4 miles have been temporarily restored into a trail.

Larry Powell
Yakutat, AK


My Dad was the last engineer on the Yakutat and Southern RR.

My twin brother and I were very lucky to ride the rail line on the tender of the locomotive many times during that summer.

I have a few pictures (slides) of the train left from my Dad's collection. Living in Yakutat was an experience I have carried with me my whole life. I would like very much to return someday. Bob Snyder

Bob Snyder
Montesano, WA


I've been to Yakutat for steelhead fishing in Spring twice(2011, 2001).

I was just concentrating in fishing itself.

Yakutat was very small and fish-dependent town.

One day I had found a ruin track in Lower trail. After checking website, I noticed Yakutat has a deep story on train, fishing, and World War II. Indeed, interesting.

Tic Tac


What you have listed as the way car, looks to be an old Heisler locomotive converted to a box cab locomotive at some point in its life, before again being converted. The trucks on it have the heisler style, with the crank rod and weights, while the body on it has the old box cab styling.

Salt Lake City, UT


Correction to my last comment. The "Way Car" you have listed is not a Way Car. According to the Y&S historical society, in 1949, the Lima locomotive was withdrawn, and the Heisler geared locomotive the railroad owned was cannibalized for parts. These parts, in particular the drive train, gearing, and trucks, were used in conjunction with the engine from a packard truck, and the remnants of an old box cab locomotive, to construct a railcar which was used to replace the steam locomotive.

Salt Lake City, UT


Shortened Link: http://a-r.us/06o

Do you have any pictures or information about The Yakutat and Southern Railroad? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.