Recently one Saturday afternoon we decided to visit one of our favorite hot spots the Alaska Live Steamers and the Transportation Museum of Alaska. Both are located in Wasilla, about a 40 minute short drive from Anchorage. Their location on the Parks highway at mile marker 47 makes it a convenient stop enroute to Talkeetna or Denali.
If you’re a railroad fan then the Alaska Live Steamers is a must stop while visiting Wasilla. The sound of train whistles and diesels engines will bring back memories for you and kids love them too. Alaska Love Steamers is supported by a local group of railroad enthusiasts who build miniature scale replicas to scales. When you first arrive you check in at the Alaska Central Railroad depot. The ride is a modest $4.00 per person (2009 price). Once you get your tokens you then board the train parked out front. They can accommodate people with disabilities if called in advance.
Once on board the conductor will come around and retrieve your tokens. He will then give you a brief safety talk and then signal the conductor to start your train experience. The locomotive begins to pull you through a fun and interesting route through the woods. Along the way you see birch forests, canyons, go over and under bridges passing familiar stations like Seward, Curry and end in a tunnel bringing you to a railroad yard similar to full size railroad. The train trips average 20-35 minutes.. Once you finish I guarantee that whether you are young or old the smiles will be bigger than when you began your Alaska Live Steamers experience. This is an all volunteer operation so they only run every other weekend with limited hours. To see their operation hours you can visit their website at www.alaskalivesteam.org .
Once you finish your train ride the Transportation Museum of Alaska is located next door. Again, this is a fun experience whether you are 3 years old or 93 years old. You will find exhibits from aircraft, trains, boats, fire engines, cars, trucks, tractors, steam equipment, snow machines and more. The entrance fee into the museum again is reasonable for adults $8, military $5, seniors (65+) $5, children (3-17) $5 and families $18. They generally operate 10am to 5pm 7 days a week all summer.
As you step back in time you can reminisce of the day when you may have drove down Main Street in one of the restored vintage cars, or stroll along the bush pilot hall of fame and meet some of Alaska’s air hero’s. The Alaska railroad exhibit houses three WWII troop sleepers which you can enter and experience the brakeman’s quarters along with seven locomotives, two locomotive cranes, and a caboose. Outside you can also get up close to some Army helicopters and an Air Force fighter jet. It seems like every area of the museum has incredible displays that will spark a memory, or for the young perhaps their imagination.