Rail service was just another casualty in Alaska from Covid-19. With no tourists last summer, rail service took a huge hit within the state.
The Alaska Railroad has already announced increased service on all of their routes. Service between Anchorage and Fairbanks will double: 2020 had only four trains per week, while 2021 will see a total of eight. Every day of the week will see either a northbound or southbound run, and Sundays will see both.
Flagstop service will return to the Anchorage-Fairbanks route, which allows riders to get on or off anywhere along to route to access remote cabins and homesteads. The Alaska Railroad is the only train service in the United States that still provides flagstop service.
Not to be outdone by the town of Garrison, Deer River has its own aquatic idol: the lean, mean, northern pike. Although the general consensus of our little band of hunters was that the fish looked more Muskie-like.
Photos were taken of a thirteen year old caught in the jaws of this magnificent carnivore, but they are too gruesome to share here.
Jim Thorpe competing in the Stockholm Olympics, 1912
Jim Thorpe is considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern times. After winning gold in both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, King Gustav V of Sweden said to Thorpe, “You sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”
Thorpe was a collegiate All-American, NFL All-Pro & charter member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and played baseball with three different MLB teams. He also played for a traveling professional basketball team.
Jim Thorpe Olympic statue near Jim Thorpe, PA
When in Pennsylvania for hockey, we traveled through Jim Thorpe, PA. Originally founded as Mauch Chunk, the community made a deal with Jim Thorpe’s widow in 1953. After Thorpe’s funeral in Shawnee, OK, city officials of Mauch Chunk bought his remains from his third wife, and Thorpe’s body was shipped to Pennsylvania without the rest of the family’s knowledge.
Jim Thorpe’s tomb
I had mixed feelings about the monument to Thorpe in Penn. On one hand, the tribute, if a bit dated and weather-worn, was well done and seemed sincere. On the other hand, it was hard to get past the fact that Thorpe has become a road side attraction. Of all the turn-offs I’ve taken traveling, this one was as surreal as any.
Thorpe’s football statue at the turnout/monument
Upon receiving Thorpe’s body, the communities of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged and were renamed Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. His tomb was built on a mound of dirt from his native Oklahoma and from the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, where he earned international fame.
In 2010, son Jack Thorpe sued in Federal Court to have his father’s remains returned to Oklahoma. After several court rulings favoring both sides, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 refused to hear the case, effectively ending the suit and leaving Thorpe’s remains in Pennsylvania. Jack Thorpe died in 2011.
The Toe has been stolen. The Sourdough Saloon, located in the Downtown Hotel of Dawson City, has been robbed of one of it’s famed toes. People travel from around the globe to partake in the saloon’s signature drink: The Sourtoe Cocktail. The cocktail consists of a shot of alcohol, garnished with a dehydrated human toe.
It’s the Yukon.
The cocktail, if not the toe, has a long history. A rum runner bringing booze into Alaska from the Yukon, amputated his big toe after it was frostbitten, preserving the toe in a jar of alcohol. The abandoned/lost toe was found in an old trapper’s cabin by a riverboat captain decades later, and the cocktail officially became a novelty at the Sourdough Saloon in 1973.
The rules are quite simple: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips have gotta touch the toe.” Also, if you swallow the toe, there is a fine of $2500. The fine for swallowing was only $500, but a man intentionally swallowed the toe in 2013, laid $500 on the bar, and promptly walked out.
The toe has been intentionally swallowed twice. In the 1990’s, the toe was stolen twice, but was returned both times.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed Tuesday that officers were investigating the toe theft.
71,328 Sourtoe Cocktails have been served since 1973. Travelers in the Yukon can still order the Sourtoe, since the saloon has one backup toe. The cocktail will set you back $5.
In an attempt to get to know the “Mother Road” a little better, we drove over to Ogden Avenue in Berwyn to check out the Berwyn US 66 Museum. That turned out to be a lot like trying to hunt down Route 66 itself.
The museum was closed, and the folks seemed to leave without a forwarding address.
Next door was a hobby store, that sold Legos (“Get your Bricks on 66”) and all sorts of trains. They seemingly had all gauges, and a nice, running, 2-train setup in the middle of one room.
The folks in the hobby store had no idea what happened to the museum.
“What are you doing tonight” Me: Going to a hockey game.
“But it’s Valentine’s Day!” Me: Do you want to go to a hockey game?
“No!” Me: They do have a kissing cam during the second intermission.