Thanks for supporting Alaska State Museum

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2008

On behalf of the Alaska State Museum, I wish to express our deepest gratitude to the institutions, businesses and individuals who supported the Alaska State Museum in its efforts to return a rare mining locomotive that was used in the Alaska Gastineau Mine to Alaska.

Much of Alaska's material heritage has been lost, so we are especially happy when we can facilitate the return of historical artifacts that have left the state. Recently, after many years of work, the museum has finally secured a warehouse space in which to preserve larger objects such as aircraft, boats, totem poles, machinery - and now, a locomotive.

First, we thank the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, headed by executive director Pamela M. Horan, for offering the locomotive as a donation and for making the effort to return it to Alaska. The museum, based in Sacramento, is a leading force in the preservation of railroad history in the American west. Museum staff members Ellen Halteman and Kyle Wyatt were extremely helpful in facilitating this generous donation. Al DiPaolo, Dennis Daugherty, and a group of museum volunteers assisted in securing and loading the locomotive for shipment.

As our museum could not afford shipping costs for the 18-ton locomotive, we were extremely fortunate that Jim Jansen, president of Lynden Transport, stepped forward to donate the transportation. Thanks to his personal interest in this project, we were able to move forward and accept the donation of the locomotive. Don Reid and Becky McDonnell of Alaska Marine Lines in Seattle, and Eric Badger and Roy Gould of the AML Juneau facility were also extremely helpful and conscientious in making the entire shipping process run smoothly. Kevin Davenport of Atlantic & Pacific Freightways also played an important role in the overland leg of the shipment.

Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the critical role played by mining historian David Stone, author of "Hard Rock Gold," who is passionate about mining history in Alaska and a recognized authority on mining in the Juneau area. He has worked decades to research and preserve the history of Alaska mining and his efforts to document and interpret the locomotive have been critical to the success of this project.

When the locomotive arrived in Juneau after a safe and successful journey, the Alaska State Museum hosted a special public display prior to in being placed in storage. An estimated 250 people attended and viewed the locomotive, as well as reprints of historical photos and drawings of the locomotive prepared by the Alaska State Library. The crowd was buzzing with excitement - and quite a few even expressed interest in helping with the restoration.

What comes next? We will assess the locomotive's condition and develop a restoration plan which will likely focus on returning the locomotive to its original configuration - a multi-year project. We also need to determine a place to exhibit the locomotive, which is too large and heavy for our current building. We are looking into several alternatives, ranging from a covered outdoor kiosk to a new wing on the museum building. We hope that the new facility will allow for the display of other large artifacts-aircraft, boats, dugout canoes, and totem poles-already in the museum's collection but never exhibited before due to lack of space.

Thanks again to all who made this project possible.

Bruce Kato

Chief curator

Alaska State Museum


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