The Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDC)

Alaska Railroad's Hurricane Turn - May 2004

Photos of Alaska Railroad's summer flag train service from Talkeetna AK north to the bridge at Hurricane Gulch on the edge of the Denali National Park and return. The Anchorage to Fairbanks service "The Denali Star" also stops on the bridge, but to see the full glory, you need to get out - something that only happens on the Hurricane Turn.

All Photos: © Copyright Bevis R W King 2004 - All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna says a very rustic wooden sign. This little town on the Susitina River is the start point for The Alaska Railroad's Hurricane Turn flag train service. The Hurricane Turn starts from the REAL downtown station in Talkeetna, not the long, over-organised tarmac strip just outside of town where the massive Denali Star calls. Here Budd RDCs #701 and #712 stand ready to depart.
Two more scenes of the Hurricane Turn in Talkeetna station. Budd RDC-3 #701 was in fact rebuilt from a Budd RDC-1. RDC-2 #712 is much more original, it's only major modification being the addition of a much larger restroom, which is wheelchair accesible.
The Hurricane Turn serves a 55-mile stretch of wilderness inaccessible by road, on the eastern bank of the Susitina river. The Parks Highway from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Denali National Park runs up the west side of the river.
Here a party unload their provisions from the train. Since the Flag Trains are the only way in and out of this remote area, pretty much everything comes up on the train. During the winter, the single daily passenger train takes on the Flag Train role; this is typically a GM GP-series (Geep) locomotive with a few coaches. A massive ironwork bridge brings us across the river, in deep wilderness with snow mountains in all directions.
The Engineer at the controls of #701. A group of people by the line - in this case here to meet some of our passengers. This is all you need do to catch the Hurricane Turn; be visible at the time the train rolls through.
Views of #712 on the bridge at Hurricane Gulch with the mountains of the Mt McKinley range in the background.
#712 and #701 roll of the bridge heading south on the start of the journey back towards Talkeetna. The interior of Budd RDC-2 #712.
A stop at Hurricane, just south of Hurricane Gulch bridge afforded an oportunity to get nice shots of both #712 and #701 and some detail shots of Budd RDC-2 #712.
The drive shaft and truck (aka bogie) and the side view of the truck on Budd RDC-2 #712. These taken for comparison with the Kato N-scale model of #712.
The Underbody equipment again taken for comparison with the model. The No 1 end (baggage compartment end) is to the right in this shot, the No 2 end (passenger end) is leading on this service. Coupler and MU connection detail; #712 on the left, #701 on the right.
Close-up of the road number and logo between the baggage door and the engineers position on #712. The engineers position at the No 2 end of #712.
A unique view of Mount McKinley, aka Denali, seen from the open baggage compartmnt door of #712. You can only get this view from the railroad, and then only on a very few days I'm told is it this clear. A beaver lodge in the middle of his damn, in the wilderness south of Hurricane.
A short stop at the Indian River fishing hole to assess the fishing possibilities provided these two scenes of #712 "in the wild".
Nearing Talkeetna, the Susitina River is back along side the tracks as we head south. Budd cars in the trees. A scene the following morning of the Budd RDCs parked up on the siding in Talkeetna awaiting their next duty on the Hurricane Turn.
Will this thing start?
Starting the engines on #701 - have the mechanics fixed the faulty engine overnight?
#701 lost one of it's two engines during our service, and continued the rest of the journey on just one; both #712s were working.

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