WP&Y Tracks above Bennett Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Views of  the line from Bennett Station to Carcross.


A work train passes the motorcars

 

 Motorcar Operators West Aug 2-5, 2002

(Also included are some photos of the 2000 trip.)

 

Arriving at Carcross, YT
Motorcars "in the hole" at Pavey mile post 46.6. At one time there was a station here and a long siding. Today the siding is in bad shape and only the south switch is used to create a short stub track. The motorcars wait on the stub while a work train with ballast goes past.

7/29/00 Motorcars leaving Carcross following Centennial celebration.

The swinging or turning bridge at Carcross was only used a few times to let steamers out of Lake Bennett and has not opened since.

Bennett mp 40.6

The White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad is a wonderful tourist railroad with some of the most spectacular scenery on any line in the world. The steep grades and tight turns present mountain views familiar to cruise ship passengers stopping at Skagway, Alaska. It's the scenic railway of the world. In fact over 300,000 people a year now take day trips of either 20 miles to the White Pass summit or 40 miles to Bennett. (left)
Up to eight trains a day return by evening to catch the departing ships.  Time and distance conspire to hide the 27 miles of track that follows a curving course along the shore of Lake Bennett to Carcross. The area just around the bend from Bennett is a little to far to go and still get back for the evening departure.

7/31/00 Gil & Janet Dominquez just above Bennett

 

No one lives here. No campers build fires here. No roads cross the hills or penetrate the mountains. No boats interrupt the wind driven waves on the lake. The water is somehow different: born of winter snows, colder, pure. At every turn the view up ahead or across the lake is another post card perfect picture of water, mountains, and blue skies. Everything is so natural. It's very special because, besides the track crews, few people ever see it. 

This Canadian track crew is working on a siding at the north end of the Bennett yard limits on August 5, 2002.  When returning to Skagway in the evenings we would see an American crew working on the curves below Heney.


The two story wooden frame section house is covered with roofing shingles of  simulated brick.  The sign says 51.6 miles to Skagway.

At Pennington, named after one of the original investors, is the last remaining section house on the line. 

This tin building above is the speeder shed and tool shop.

 

This small shed at right is not the outhouse.  It held batteries for lights and phone power.

The above photo of Wayne Parsons and a track worker was taken in 2000.  As a young man the worker lived at Pennington and was part of the eight man section crew.

 

Nancy Parsons at Pennington in 2000

Section crews report having clean sheets once a week.  The food was good too.  Cooks competed with each other for quality.  Mail and supplies came to Pennington by boats docking on the other side of this building.
Jim Creaseman and Wayne check the fabulous scenery visible across the lake.
Paul Cyr operated bulldozers clearing winter snow on the WP&YR until 1982.  This pole, with two extensions, was used to hook portable telephones onto the trackside lines and call the dispatcher.

Framed by the second story dormitory window of the Pennington section house, this view looks north. 

When we stopped here in 2000 the building was well boarded up.  This time the front door was broken in.  On the floor behind this camera view are scorch marks indicating hikers may have used their propane stoves here.

Let's hope that this window and the rest of this historic building can be preserved.


I think the most interesting scenery on railroads is when the track follows a lake shore or river bank.  Looking across the water I image the Stampeders of 1898 covering the lake in their boats headed to Carcross.
The track between Bennett and Carcross varies in quality.  WP&YR is making constant improvements.  In 2000 we saw hand crews replacing every fourth tie.  By 2002 many sections had all new ties and good ballast as seen on the right. 

In the winter the wind blows so hard that it creates five foot waves which cause erosion all along the shore and threaten the roadbed.

Along the lake near Pennington is a one-mile section that required very heavy rock-work. 

According to writer Eric L. Johnson, it "was said to have cost $250,000 - the most expensive mile on the whole line."

At mile post 52.6, on an island near shore, is this sign marking the border between British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.  This also marks the boundary of  control between the two Canadian companies that make up the WY&YR: the British Columbia-Yukon Railway Company and the British Yukon Mining, Trading & Transportation Company.



 

The distant mountains and near shore of Lake Bennett frame Carcross as we approach.

 

During the lunch break at Carcross we take time to socialize, shop at the Matthew Watson General Store, visit the exhibits in the depot, and make repairs to motorcars.

 

Here on the main line in the yard at Carcross is as far north as we can go in 2002.  The pile of gravel on the right will become ballast for 15 miles of new rail between here and Bennett.  

 

Paul Cyr, former WP&YR "cat" operator (above left and right) rode with me on August 4, 2002.  In 1972 he left Glacier at 10:30 PM one winter night on a bulldozer to rescue the two rotary plows and their crews iced in at mile post 22.3 near Meadows.  The successful rescue and increased use of dozers spelled the end of the rotary era. 

Also in 1972 Paul's quick action with his cat rescued a speeder operator who had been buried in an open car by a snow slide at mile post 15.

 

In the yard at Carcross WP&YR locomotive number 95 is idle this Sunday.  We will see it again tomorrow as the power unit for the work train.

 

I


From inside the motorcar, the widow acts as our post card frame.

The afternoon sun reflects off the Bennett station roof in the distance.  This gives a sense of perspective to the scene and just how big the mountain and lake really are.

The group pauses just around the bend from White Pass summit on the rock cut next to Summit Lake.  The power units of the last train are doing their runaround the consist.  We'll wait until they're far down the hill.  In the foreground is a piece of the pipeline that once ran from Skagway to Whitehorse.

Thank you Gil and Janet Dominguez for organizing this event. Thank you WP&YR for hosting us and for all the time and effort by the employees of the railroad. We appreciate everything you did for us and hope to one day ride on your line again.

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