Great Alaskan Railroad Journeys

Beginning among the snow-capped mountains and ice-cold inlets of the Kenai Peninsula, Michael finds communities of Russian-Alaskans and discovers that, 150 years ago, Alaska was a Russian colony.  He learns how, shortly before his guidebook was published, the Russian Empire sold Alaska to the United States.

He boards the Alaska Railroad to travel past lakes and glaciers and through mountain tunnels, admiring the magnificent landscape and glimpsing the wildlife of the region, while learning what it took to build this epic 470-mile line.

Along the way, Michael joins the US Arctic Warriors for parachute training at their base in Anchorage and learns a thing or two about growing vegetables so close to the Arctic Circle, thanks to a magical encounter with the cabbage fairies of Palmer.  He gets a taste of the pioneering spirit of early 20th century gold prospectors in Talkeetna and crosses the spectacular Hurricane Gulch Bridge.   In Fairbanks, he reaches for the skies with scientists who study the Northern Lights and gets the chance to light the boiler of an 1899 Porter locomotive belonging to the Tanana Valley Railroad.

Embarking next on the White Pass and Yukon Route from Skagway to Carcross in Canada, Michael heads for for Dyea and the Chilkoot trail, hiked a hundred years ago by gold prospectors heading for the Klondike.  Among them, he discovers, was Jack London, whose stories of sled dogs captured the spirit of the gold rush. In the puppy pen of a sled dog training camp Michael hears from a dog musher how huskies helped to build Alaska.  Boarding the railroad, Michael admires the spectacular scenery on a line laden with history.  He explores the art of the First Nations and helps to carve a totem pole before shaking his tail feathers in a “grouse dance”.