Author Archives: icefogger

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends.

Operation Ice Bridge

Operation Ice Bridge is a NASA mission to monitor the changes in polar ice. The program was started in 2003. Here are some photos that NASA took during their time over Alaska.


Pools of meltwater atop Columbia Glacier; Prince William Sound, Alaska


Miles Glacier, near Cordova, Alaska. Cordova’s “Million Dollar Bridge”, was officially known as “The Miles Glacier Bridge”. The glacier terminates at Miles Lake, which has formed in the past 100 years.


Icy Bay in the Wrangell-St Elias Wilderness, Alaska. A century ago, the body of water was covered in glacial ice.


A refurbished DC-3 takes off from Kulusuk, Greenland on a survey of Eastern Greenland. I just think it’s incredibly cool that they are flying a DC-3.

All Photos credit: NASA, DC-3 photo credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech


Saint Paul’s Union Depot


Saint Paul’s Union Depot in 1881

Union Depot first opened along the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1881. Nine railroads joined forces to form the Saint Paul Union Depot Company, they included the Great Northern; Northern Pacific; Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha; Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, Chicago Great Western; Chicago Burlington & Quincy; Minneapolis, St Paul, Sault St. Marie; Minneapolis & St Louis; Chicago Rock Island & Pacific.


Union Depot in 1889

The original depot was damaged by a fire in 1884 and was rebuilt. By 1888, 8 million passengers went through Saint Paul’s Union Depot, and 150 trains departed daily.
In 1913, the original Union Depot was completely destroyed by fire.


Union Depot today

New construction of the Saint Paul depot was driven by railroad tycoon James J. Hill. Architect Charles Sumner Frost was chosen to design the new Union Depot. Construction began in 1917, but World War I slowed the project considerably. It didn’t help that James J. Hill had died the previous year. The new Union Depot was completed in 1923 at a cost of $15 million. By contrast, the original depot cost $125,000 in 1881.


Inside Union Depot’s Great Hall

As luck and plans would have it, I’ve traveled through Saint Paul’s Union Depot several times over the past year. As a stop on Amtrak’s Empire Builder Line, there is daily service to/from Chicago and Seattle.

In 2010, Union Depot underwent a massive renovation by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority. 10,000 square feet of Tennessee pink marble floors, walls and columns were cleaned of close to a century of use. The electrical, HVAC, and communications received extensive upgrades. One acre (38,000 square feet) of decorative ceiling plaster was restored. All 63 arched windows were removed & restored. The original oak cabinets, like the one in the photo above, were restored in St Paul, and put back in their original locations, complete with modern screens for train information.

After the $243 million restoration, Union Depot reopened to the public in December of 2012.

There is a small display of Union Depot’s history located near Gate B. Many of the items displayed here were found during the restoration in 2012.

Currently, Amtrak, the METRO light rail, Metro Transit bus service, Greyhound Lines, Jefferson Lines and Megabus all service Union Depot.


The Twin Cities Zephyr in Saint Paul, circa 1935


Tale of three bears

Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada

Wapusk National Park is a 11,475 square kilometer park located on the western coast of Hudson Bay. The University of Saskatchewan has been studying polar bears within the park since 2011. Wapusk sits at the transition of boreal forest and Arctic tundra. The park contains three different, but equally dynamic ecosystems: forest, tundra and ocean. Wapusk is one of the largest polar bear denning areas in the world, with a population of over 1000 polar bears venturing in and out of the park. During a five year period, remote cameras were able to document the visits of 366 polar bears within the park.

Since the southern portion of the park contains the northern edge of a boreal forest, it was no surprise to find images of black bears on the remote cameras. Researchers were surprised to find that the number of black bear visits were almost as high as the polar bears.

For the first time, researchers were able to capture visits from all three of North America’s bear species within the park. It wasn’t just a few grizzly bears that had moved into the area, but many, and at least one is believed to be denning within the park.

Barren ground grizzly bears have been expanding their range in the Arctic in recent years. The question now for park managers is what, if anything, should they do about it. Prevailing thought claims that the grizzly is a threat to polar bears. Is that based on research, or opinion? Have the two bear populations benefitted each other in the past, or clashed?

With the continued decrease of sea ice, and the grizzly roaming into new territory for food and habitat, this interaction of the two species will only increase.

It’s an interesting study by the University of Saskatchewan, and they ask some intriguing questions.

Photo credit: University of Saskatchewan; Research by Douglas Clark, University of Saskatchewan


Anchorage hit with 7.0 Quake


An onramp to International Airport Road from Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage experienced quite the shaker at 8:29am Friday morning. The earthquake was initially pegged at a magnitude 6.6, but was quickly updated to a 7.0 by Friday afternoon.


A stranded SUV on the collapsed onramp

The earthquake was followed by an estimated 5.8 aftershock, and several smaller ones throughout the day on Friday. A tsunami warning was issued immediately for the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and Cook Inlet. No tsunami developed, and the warning was called off less than two hours later.

Flights into Anchorage International Airport were being diverted to Juneau or Fairbanks. Departures from the Anchorage Airport began again at 11:30am.


Vine Road, just south of Wasilla, Alaska

The epicenter of the quake was 7 miles north of Anchorage, directly across the Knik Arm from Alaska’s largest city. Depth was at 27 miles. There are reports of road damage throughout the area, and several reports of damaged buildings. Residents have called in saying that the Glenn Highway has some sections of severe damage, although there is no official word on that yet. As of this writing, no casualties have been reported.

This is the largest earthquake to hit the Anchorage area, since a 7.1 in 2016. The Friday morning earthquake was much closer to Anchorage and the MatSu Valley, so damage is expected to be higher than 2016.

As of Friday afternoon, Alaska has experienced 43,926 earthquakes in 2018.

Photos credit: Anchorage Daily News


Weather Almanac

Fairbanks, Alaska

Details for Thursday, November 29

High Temp: +19F
Low Temp: + 4F

Average High: +11F
Average Low: – 6F

Record High: +47F
Record Low: -40

Sunrise: 10:13am
Sunset: 3:04pm
A loss of 5 minutes, 30 seconds from yesterday

Moonrise: 11:47pm
Moonset: 2:41pm


Snow Glare


Snowshoeing around The Pond.

Camera: Leica M3; Film: Kodak 35mm, T-Max 100


Checking back into the Panama Hotel

Through the lens of the 66:


The Panama Hotel


Panama Tea Room


The Entrance

Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak 120, T-Max 100