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Railroad Motorcar convoy visits Seward

On Friday, a colorful convoy of 22 yellow, red, orange, blue, and green railroad motorcars converged on Seward at the Alaska Railroad Depot, repeating a trip first done in 2011.

The tiny, gasoline-powered motorcars, variously called “Speeders” or “Putt-putts” were historically used to inspect railroad tracks before being replaced by modern Hy-rail vehicles.

The group, all club members of NARCOA, the North American Railcar Operators Association, traveled from Anchorage to Denali, then north to Fairbanks, south to Talkeetna, back to Anchorage, and down to Seward as part of their Alaska rail adventure. They enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on their scenic route and spent time at each stop to take in the local attractions.

Most of the historic track maintenance cars were purchased when railroads across the nation sold the outdated vehicles, then were lovingly refurbished by hobbyists for recreational use. One owner, however, built his motorcar from the iron wheels up!

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Accompanied by Alaska Railroad Hy-rail vehicles front and back, the convoy departed Seward on Sunday morning, putt-putting back to Anchorage at the end of their memorable trip.

NARCOA members tour all around the nation with permission of the participating railroads. For more information on this fascinating hobby, check out the website at http://www.narcoa.org/newsite/faq.htm

Carol Griswold

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