Whittier

Trip Start May 06, 2010
1
59
137
Trip End Oct 14, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Thursday, July 8, 2010

I arrived in Whittier at 7:00am.  This was an hour late but it was still earlier than the Prince William Sound Museum in Whittier opened.  They didn't have their hours posted.  The museum is a single room.  I didn't think it was worth waiting around for them to open so I left.

Next I drove to the Begich Towers.  It's one of two large buildings built by the Army when they had a large presence here.  The other one is the Buckner Building, which at one time was the largest building in Alaska.

Lonely Planet says that the 14th and 15th floors of the Begich Towers are open to the public.  I went up and looked around but there weren't any rooms open to the public where you could get a view of the waterfalls behind the building.  I left there and went to the Buckner Building.  It was damaged by an earthquake in 1964 and since the building contains a lot of asbestos it wasn't worth fixing.  And since it contains a lot of asbestos it will be expensive to tear down so it's still sitting there slowly falling apart.  These two buildings are among the closest to Soviet-style architecture I've seen in the U.S. 

To leave Whittier you have to go through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which is the second longest highway tunnel and longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America.  Its one lane is shared by both east- and west-bound highway traffic as well as east- and west-bound rail traffic.  I understand that waits can sometimes be up to two hours but I was lucky and arrived just in time to drive right in.  The tunnel looks more like a mine than your typical tunnel since the walls and ceiling are exposed rough-cut rock.

I drove to Seward and checked into my hotel.  There were a number of scenic turnouts along the highway to Seward but the weather was awful, again, so I didn't stop.  I'll be driving this highway on my way to Anchorage and I'm hoping the weather will be better then.  After checking my e-mail I went over to the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center where I watched some of their movies about the park and talked to a Ranger to plan my visit.
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Comments

Chuck on

Was originally a rail road tunnel completed in 1943. The "A" roof of the tunnel portal building at the Whittier end is made of 14 inches of concrete and was designed to withstand a major avalanche. Tunnel is about 2½ miles long.

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