Tag Archives: railway

The Iron Trail

Keystone Canyon; Valdez, Alaska

Railroad tunnel, circa 1905-06

Today, the Richardson Highway runs through Keystone Canyon, en route to Valdez. Back in the early territorial days of Alaska, people traveled this route on the Valdez Trail from coastal Valdez to Interior Alaska.

In 1905, nine separate entities were competing to build a railroad through Keystone to the copper mines of Kennecott. This tunnel, which is accessed off of the Richardson, is all that is left of the proposed railroad.

A gunfight erupted between opposing factions, work ceased in 1906, and the hand cut tunnel was never finished.

The tunnel still offers a decent view

When we were recently camping down by Valdez, we stopped by to explore the old tunnel. Graffiti covers many of the rocks, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the effort it would have taken to cut through this rock wall in 1905-06 with hand tools.

There is both a silent film, and a novel titled “The Iron Trail”, based on this era of Alaska’s history.

Overseas Railway

Overseas Railway
Bahia Honda

Work on the Overseas Railway started in 1905 to connect Key West with the Florida East Coast Railway. A distance of 128 miles. The rail operated from 1912 to 1935, when it was destroyed by the Labor Day Hurricane, which was a Catagory 5.

The Florida East Coast Railway was already broke, so the rails were not repaired and the infrastructure was given to the state of Florida. The Overseas Roadway was then built, using much of the old rail supports, but adding a second deck in sections where the rail deck was too narrow.

A Florida East Coast Railway locomotive going to Key West in 1928