Alaska Volume 3: Giants in the Dark

Alaska Volume 3: Giants in the Darkcover


Length: One hour

Locations: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seward, Whittier…

Time Period: 1994

Source: Patrick A. Hunstiger

Producer: Patrick A. Hunstiger

MSRP: 29.95

The Alaska Railroad in winter. Daylight is in limited supply. On the Anchorage division, 100 trains daily, drops to 25 for the duration. The weather has made the lines more difficult to operate upon. Extreme cold is hazardous to men and machine. An unusual show offers a world of railroading, that is often running in darkness.

Speaking of challenges. The cinematographer has braved -30 degree temperatures. Filming trains in mostly darkness, lights must illuminate those scenes. Note this filmmaker has many of the credits. Narration and script too. His shadow is all over this production. Keep a sharp eye out, you may literally see his shadow cast, a few times.

Narration is minimal. Radio traffic between the dispatchers and train crews, liven things up. On- screen graphics carry much information. Automated track detectors are heard. Live environmental audio sometimes has the airhorn reverberating in the mountains.


This release is balance nicely. Plenty of daylight moves that include wonderful scenery. The soundtrack is complementary to the imagery. A smooth playing show.

Chapters showcase various freight extras and passenger moves. There are map references. They are primitive maps. However, the use of highlighting points on each route do suffice. The individual routes are interesting. All the moves will provide good repeat viewings.

mp183          Anchorage to Fairbanks. Milepost 183. Unit coal train.

wasAs this train moves past Wasilla, note the Pizza Hut and McDonalds are in the background.

husky1There are some differences in passenger operations. Close inspection has: the man, woman carrying a baby, and the family husky. Looks like the husky has ridden this train before. See for yourself. Try that on your suburban commuter  railroad!


Approaching a tunnel. Great scenery is viewed from the passenger coaches.

bridge                                                                        Bridge

girdwood                               Train arrives at Girdwood. Lights above are for skiers.

wc59Besides not freezing to death, the camera still had to function in the extreme cold.


The crews do have some equipment problems; with a locomotive, and rolling stock. Radio traffic has it covered.


Alaska Volume 3 is a unique program. All of the radio communications, result in a good sense of how this road operates. Railfans and model railroaders, will find this a worthy release to own. Packs plenty into a one hour show.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

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