Whittier is an unusual place as other than arriving by boat from Prince William Sound the only way to get there is to either drive or take the train through the Anton Anderson Tunnel. Although I suppose if you really wanted to you could hike across the mountains.
We paid our $12.00 and got in line with the other vehicles waiting to use the tunnel, as it was early in the season we didn’t have to wait long, but I imagine the queues could be quite long during the summer.
As trains also use the tunnel there are huge fans and escape routes all along it’s length, about 2½ miles, each time the tunnel is used there is about a 15 minute wait to allow time for the fumes to clear. A traffic light system advises when it’s your turn to start through. It’s a strange feeling as you start to enter the narrow one way tunnel.
Driving towards the tunnel.
Just about to drive into the tunnel.
I did take some photographs as we drove through but none of them came out very well. As you reach the end of the tunnel, signs point you back onto the road otherwise it’d be so very easy to carry on following the railway tracks!
We paid our $10.00 to park on the harbour and then looked for that most important of things on a cold, rainy day, a coffee shop! Once we’d enjoyed hot chocolate and coffee we walked along the harbour. Even on a mostly cloudy, rainy and chilly day the views across Prince William Sound were spectacular.
The sun peaking through on the mountains.
We had hoped to take one of the many boat trips out into Prince William Sound, but none were available when we were there.
Walking around town we visited the museum, it’s small, but interesting. The route from Prince William Sound to interior Alaska has been used for centuries, by among others, the Spanish, the explorer Valdez came this way, as did the Russians. In 1941 during WWII, the US Army built the railway line and tunnel so that as an ice free, deep water port, Whittier could be used to bring in material and personnel to defend Alaska.
At the end of WWII the army port was deactivated and abandoned for a short while, before being reactivated during the Cold War. In 1960 the port was finally deactivated. The 1964 earthquake destroyed what remained of the waterfront and rail yard, leaving only the huge cold war buildings. Today most of these buildings are used as homes by the majority of the residents of Whittier.
We had lunch at the Inn at Whittier, right on the waterfront enjoying the views across the harbour and out across Prince William Sound as we ate.
Full of scrumptious food we continued our walk around the harbour, where a lady I was chatting to told me that they’d had very little snow this year, but on average they get around 266 inches. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have live somewhere that has so much snow. There were some lovely handmade leather items in this gift shop.
These lovely wooden dolphins were on the harbour.
Have fun, we are!