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82:  Whittier Tunnel Holing Through Ceremony Programs; Presentation Ceremony, March 10, 1943, Army-Navy Production Award, January 9, 1943, to West Construction Company, Whittier Cut-Off, Alaska Railroad; Benjamin B. Talley Papers, 1925-2002 (HMC-0241), Box 3; Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel , the longest highway tunnel in North America, opened in June 2000 after extensive conversion from a World War Two railway tunnel. The Whittier Tunnel tolls start at $13 for a car and prices raise from there for larger vehicles with more axles. Then they close the tunnel to allow for on-coming traffic leaving Whittier and for train use. Vehicle Size Limitations and Tunnel Restrictions (Click here to view Tunnel Restrictions section at bottom of page) Vehicle Size Limitations. On April 23, 1943 workers completed the spur, which consisted of a 1-mile tunnel through Begich Peak and a 2.5-mile tunnel through Maynard Mountain, thus linking Whittier to the Alaska Railroad's main line at Portage. The first part of the tunnel route was constructed in the early 1900s by the military during World War II as a passage acting as the main supply route for goods to and from Whittier. The $60 million Whittier Access Tunnel was Alaska's first design-build transportation project. With the onset of war, though, the War Department determined that the rail line running from Seward to Portage, nearly 100 miles in length, made it vulnerable. Milestone” [Editorial], Anchorage Daily Times, November 23, 1942, 2; and Souvenir Booklet, Holing Through the Whittier Tunnel, November 20, 1942; Drawer 2, File No. The A.E.C.’s preliminary survey was so well executed that the line, completed twenty years later, covered almost exactly the same ground.” [5], In 1939, surveyors Porter Berryhill and Earl Grammar of the Alaska Railroad reexamined the proposed 1914 route. 1, Whittier Tunnel Construction Papers, 1941; Olavi V. Kukkola Papers, 1941-1964 (HMC-1084), Box 1; Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. In the fall of 1942, the West Construction Company, Alaska Railroad, and troops from the 42nd and 177th Engineer General Service Regiments and the 714th Railroad Battalion laid the track from Portage to Whittier. Whittier Access Tunnel Whittier, Alaska. Other work was completed on the dock, terminal, port facilities, and an army garrison. Whittier is located east of Seward on Passage Canal in Prince William Sound, and today is accessible via an eleven-mile side road from the Seward Highway. Beginning October 28, 2018 through April 30, 2019, the tunnel will have early closures for construction. Had this been destroyed, Southcentral would have been cut off from most shipping. The Whittier Access Tunnel was Alaska's first design-build transportation project. The project was an effort to improve the handling capacity of the overtaxed Alaska Railroad, which began at Seward on the southern coast and ran to Fairbanks in the northern interior. The two tunnels were separated by Bear Valley and drilled through the Chugach Mountains. For further questions or information, please contact: Gordon S. Burton, Facility Manager Phone: 907-472-2584 Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities 5300 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99507 Fax: 907-472-2533 Despite difficult working and living conditions and washed out bridges, West Construction Company crews completed the project six months ahead of schedule. [7]. [4]. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with Whittier and is the only land access to the town. You’ll go through Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel—the longest (2.5 miles) highway tunnel in North America, and the first designed for -40 Fahrenheit temperatures and 150 mph winds! Once the military port of Whittier opened, plans had called for abandoning the rail line between Seward and Portage. The region occupied by Whittier was once part of the portage route of the Chugach people native to Prince William Sound. This video is about motorcycling through the 2.5 mile long Whittier Tunnel in south-central Alaska. Ensuring the safety of tunnel users is the top priority. The tunnel accommodates two lanes of traffic and a full paved roadway shoulder. A bit blurry, but it was the best I was able to do from the car with the low light conditions. Book your tickets online for Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, Whittier: See 542 reviews, articles, and 177 photos of Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, ranked No.1 on Tripadvisor among 14 attractions in Whittier. William H. Wilson, Railroad in the Clouds:  The Alaska Railroad in the Age of Steam, 1914-1945 (Boulder, Co.:  Pruett Publishing Co., 1977, 253. The tunnel will operate on the normal schedule Friday evening through Sunday morning, and during all holidays. Local tips include when you should leave from Girdwood or Anchorage to make the tunnel. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with Whittier and is the only land access to the town. The nearby Whittier Glacier was named for American poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1915, and the town eventually took the name as well. Whittier Tunnel, Alaska. Construction of a massive railway tunnel was undertaken to … This short highway tunnel (400 feet) was constructed as part of the first phase of the Whittier Access Project. Despite hazardous mountain and glacier climbing, severe wind and rain, and poor inter-camp communication, the preliminary survey work was completed over the summer. Establishing a camp at Whittier, the engineers from Anderson’s party surveyed a site for the terminal, and determined the route from Whittier to the south portion of the Portage Tunnel. Be sure to check out the local attractions on your drive, from numerous photo stops along scenic … Whittier, as a rail port, reduced exposure of the life line to Alaska. Tunnel holing through ceremonies, November 20, 1942. Known by locals as the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain. A track through Kenai Peninsula’s neck was possible if the railroad bored beneath the mountains 13,005 feet through the eastern mass, 4,960 feet through the western. Portage Lake Tunnel Immediately after passing over the Portage Creek Bridge, you will travel through the two-lane Portage Lake Tunnel. Later, the passage was used by Russian and American explorers, and by prospecting miners during the Klondike Gold Rush. Alaska Railroad Photograph Collection, Anchorage Museum (B1979.002.5904). To that end, the size of vehicles that can pass through the tunnel will be limited. Whittier Tunnel Whittier, Alaska 23 Aug 2000 Driving through the Whittier Tunnel. “Watch your Step.” Climbing over debris after the final blast. With a new rail connection from Whittier to Portage, the area began to change. Driving through the two mile long, one lane Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is an interesting experience. In 1998, the Whittier Tunnel, later renamed as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, was modified to handle both railroad and vehicle traffic. After the 1960’s when the town of Whittier was abandoned by the military, the Alaska highway system inherited the tunnel. James D. Bush, Jr., Narrative Report of Alaska Construction, 1941-1944 (Anchorage:  Construction Division Office, 1944), 122-125. The Seward-Portage line carried the Alaska Railroad’s peacetime commercial traffic, but it was incapable of handling much military traffic without a major reconstruction. May 1 to September 30: Open daily 5:30 am to 11:15 pm, Effective October 1 to April 30 – Open daily 7:00 am to 10:45 pm. As described by historian William H. Wilson: “The party noted Passage Canal’s drenching rains but saw no obstacles to port, townsite, and terminal developments. By the spring of 1942, rapid progress was made at the Whittier Tunnel, but not at the Portage Tunnel, where a lack of power to operate the equipment slowed construction. It stated, in part: “HOLING THROUGH the Whittier railroad tunnel is a milestone to the development of Alaska. Charles Hendricks, Engineer Memoirs:  Brigadier General Benjamin B. Talley (Fort Belvoir, VA:  Office of History, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1994, 115; File No. In 1941, West Construction Company crews began working at the Passage Canal site, but their progress was hampered by a shortage of workers and supplies. Whittier, the gateway to Prince William Sound, has more than 700,000 visitors annually, and is one of the state’s largest tourist attractions. On November 23, the Times editorialized in a patriotic, but partially racist, view of the project’s importance for the war effort and Alaska’s future development. 7:  Charles Hendricks Interview, 1994; Benjamin B. Talley Papers, 1925-2002 (HMC-0241), Box 6; Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. Whittier’s history as a Cold War Army Port is recounted on signs affixed to the large concrete buildings that have survived 60-70 years. Alaska Railroad Cut Off, Alaska. The work week begins Sunday evening and ends Friday mornings. With a new rail connection to Whittier, the area began to change. The berths can accommodate … Progress reports indicated that the men expected to “hole through” on the Portage Tunnel the first week in November and on the Whittier Tunnel two weeks later. Driving from Anchorage to Whittier to play in Prince William Sound? One of the unique features of Whittier is a 2.5-mile long tunnel that is shared by alternating one-way auto traffic and railroad traffic. This ice-free harbor is great for any avid boater. Russian fur traders and early settlers continued to use the valley, establishing a trail along the creek and the Portage and Bu… Whittier Harbor. Generally, the tunnel is open for entry for 15 minutes each way, once each hour. The Whittier Tunnel, November 20, 1942). The holing through ceremony was covered by the Anchorage Daily Times on November 21 and 23, the extracts of which were published in pamphlet form (Holing Through. The scope of work for this $60 million project included increasing the crown height by an average of 1.5 feet to allow installation of six 75-hp jet fans. Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel: When in Whittier, go through the tunnel. It stated, in part: “HOLING THROUGH the Whittier railroad tunnel is a milestone to the development of Alaska. 11:00 - 11:15 pm Whittier to Bear Valley It is recommended that tunnel users be in the staging area at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled opening to help us (a) The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, including associated vehicle staging areas, and the section of the road commonly known as the Portage Glacier Highway between milepost 5.1, near Portage Creek, Alaska, and the Whittier Ferry Terminal is designated as a toll facility. Portage Glacier, the team reported, had receded and was no longer an obstacle to construction. It vindicates those proponents of the project who had the vision to see its military and economic necessity as well as its physical practicality. - See 544 traveler reviews, 187 candid photos, and great deals for Whittier, AK, at Tripadvisor. Pay attention to the access schedule. Use this timetable to plan your trip through the Whittier Tunnel. There were supplemental agreements to the prime contract, in the amount of $7,774,236 for other phases of the Whittier Project. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, better known as the Whittier Tunnel, is the longest dual-use, or bimodal, highway tunnel in North America. History, tunnel facts, operational information, and construction details are available on this website. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a contract with the West Construction Company of Boston, Massachusetts to perform most of the work. The walking tour map with short history is located at the P-12 Motor Pool building across the street from the pedestrian tunnel. Enjoy the unique experience of a trip to Whittier, Alaska, driving the longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America! Enjoy the unique experience of a trip to Whittier, Alaska, driving the longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America! 1-5, U.S. Its official name is the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. With the Whittier port in operation, the Alaska Railroad avoided the 50-mile mountainous section of railroad grades between Seward and Portage. Whittier Tunnel, Transportation & Public Facilities, State of Alaska Enjoy the unique experience of a trip to Whittier, Alaska, driving the longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America! Holing through ceremonies on November 20, 1942. Based on their results, the entire Whittier Project was authorized by Congress in 1941, with an appropriation of $5,300,000 for the drilling of two tunnels, fourteen miles of new line for the Alaska Railroad, and the construction of a terminal on Portage Canal. As World War II progressed, the U.S. Army needed additional ports to move troops and to handle the increased freight tonnages of war materials and equipment that were shipped to Alaska and to provide an alternative port if Seward became inaccessible. Whittier Tunnel - gorgeous drive to Whittier Alaska - YouTube The Whittier Tunnel, November 20, 1942). Prince William Sound, Alaska History, Alaska Women, Eliza Scidmore, Frederica DeLaguna, Dora Keen. McDermott, “Report of Work Accomplished by South End Survey Party, Passage Canal, from May 15th to July 2, 1941,” July 14, 1941, pp. For Current Hours and Updates Click Below, Copyright 2020 | Whittier Alaska Chamber of Commerce | All Rights Reserved, Glacier View Condo Suites Whittier Alaska. By October 1942, good progress had been made on both tunnels. Done six months ahead of schedule, the 13,000-foot hole stands as a permanent answer to the Japanese menace, to the scoffers who said it was ‘impossible’ and to those people who plan to make Alaska their home in future years. All content ©2020 Cook Inlet Historical Society. Kiewit crews converted the 1940s-era railroad tunnel into a state-of-the-art multi-use rail/automobile tunnel. (Fairbanks:  University of Alaska Press, 2008), 63. On June 8, 1941, a cost-plus-fee contract was negotiated with the West Construction Company at the estimated contract cost of $3,110,206. The importance of a railroad route between Turnagain Arm and Passage Canal was realized much earlier by the builders of the Alaska Central Railway, but it was not until 1914 when a seven-man topographical party carefully mapped this route for the Alaskan Engineering Commission. On November 21, 1942, the Anchorage Daily Times announced the holing through of the Whittier tunnel through a rock formation to provide access to the new port of Whittier on Passage Canal, an arm of Prince William Sound. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, better known as the Whittier Tunnel, is the longest dual-use, or bimodal, highway tunnel in North America. [2], Originally, Seward had been the port for all of Southcentral Alaska. Known by locals as the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain. The most prominent headline of the November 21st edition declared, “Open Alaska Railroad Whittier Tunnel.”. This work is designed to improve the tunnel for the future. Work on the rail bed began in the summer of 1941, and continued through the winter, with crews clearing ten to fifteen-foot snow drifts, and regularly working in winds from twenty to thirty miles per hour and zero temperatures. Whittier is an easy 63-mile drive south of Anchorage on the scenic Seward Highway or Highway “1” on driving maps. Known by locals as the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain.It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with Whittier and is the only land access to the town. On November 23, the Times editorialized in a patriotic, but partially racist, view of the project’s importance for the war effort and Alaska’s future development. The Whittier port, navigable year-round by ocean vessels, provided a shortcut to a new and improved deep water outlet on Passage Canal (a trip to Seward added 52 more miles). From a camp at Portage Valley, Kukkola surveyed the south to the north end of the proposed Whittier Tunnel. Whittier Tunnel History. Most construction supplies to meet the needs of the Alaska supply effort had to be shipped from Seattle by sea, and Alaska itself lacked a land-based transportation infrastructure of harbor facilities, airports, railroads, and highways, which was being quickly assembled by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. Alaska Railroad Photograph Collection, Anchorage Museum (B1979.002.1806). Driving towards Whittier, the tunnel opens for 15 minutes at the bottom of every hour. In 2000, the tunnel was opened to public access, and connects Whittier to Anchorage. The tunnel tells the slant-eyed Jap that Uncle Sam is going to keep his forces supplied in Alaska and has no intention of leaving the great Northland vulnerable to the rape of the yellow hordes. Please check the project webpage for more construction information at http://www.whittiertunnelmaint.com/ We appreciate your patience and understanding during this period. The earliest evidence of the Portage Valley being used for transportation dates back to early A.D, when the Inuit people used the flat, low-lying valley as a pass through the Chugach Mountains. Tunnel details can be found at the State of Alaska site HERE. Benjamin B. and Virginia M. Talley, “Building Alaska’s Defenses in World War II,” In Alaska at War, 1941-1945:  The Forgotten War Remembered, Fern Chandonnet, ed. Whittier’s development can be deciphered in buildings still in use today. See also, Anton A. Anderson to Major A.E. 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