Dan Gullickson was interviewed on January 27, 2010 by Karen Brewster at the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Dan talks about rescuing Engine #1, finding blueprints and old photographs, finding parts, getting funding, creating the Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad organization, machining and restoration work, and use of the restored engine at Pioneer Park.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Railroads of Alaska Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Jan 27, 2010
Narrator(s): Dan Gullickson
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Videographer: Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
The Tanana Valley Railroad and development in the Interior
The historic railroads in Nome
Salvaging railroad artifacts and sources for funding
Restoring the locomotive piece by piece
Constructing the engine cab
The locomotive building and their partnership with Pioneer Park
Track maintenance on the railroad
How a steam locomotive engine works
The builder's plate on the locomotive boiler
Finding parts for Engine No. 1
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
KAREN BREWSTER: One question I wanted to ask you has to do with the role the railroad played in developing the -- this area, the Interior, connecting Fairbanks with the rest of the Interior.
DAN GULLICKSON: Well, thanks to Felix Pedro, Fairbanks became the center. However, when the railroad was started, Falcon Joslin and those guys did not want to build in Fairbanks because they thought due to high water and low water problems, it would be easier for riverboats to access what was the Chena or became the Chena townsite. Their predictions were true for maybe about a year, Chena actually grew faster than Fairbanks. To get from Chena on up the Chena Slough into Fairbanks,
you had to transfer from the riverboats to a mosquito fleet of smaller craft which would go into Fairbanks, so you had a freight unloading situation there. But that didn't appear to occur as frequently as they thought, so Fairbanks became the center. The railroad enabled Fairbanks to become the -- the hub for all the mining activity in Fair -- in the Interior because it was the point where -- the furthest point north where all the freight could be brought and then distributed
either by originally horse drawn sleigh and wagon, or then the railroad, and ultimately, the automobile. So that's basically how it helped the community certainly fleece the pockets of the people that financed it. But I think it was very important for the -- the success of Fairbanks for the railroad to be here. It probably would have kept growing, but not to -- not as quickly as it did with the railroad. It was a good plan.
Up until about 1911, the railroad met all salary and financial obligations, including paying the -- the principal and the interest on their loans.
KAREN BREWSTER: Was it a fairly large employer for the community?
DAN GULLICKSON: I don't know how many people it had. They paid excellent wages, though. They were very competitive for the day. So they never had a problem with manpower.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you mentioned Nome, so I want to go off a little bit and ask you what you know about some of the history of the railroads out there.
DAN GULLICKSON: I'm probably not the best person to ask about the Nome area because other than the limited contact I've had, and I've read a lot, but not enough that it's been imprinted on my mind. There were several railroads that operated in the Nome area. One of them was named and renamed several, several times. In fact, one of the chapters in one of our reference books is the -- got -- got this name, this name, this name followed by a question mark. And it was the one that actually ended up operating the longest.
When the train stopped running, the Alaska Road Commission actually operated rail busses, or the miners would hook up dog teams on carts; the track was not torn up. And in many places, as I found when I was doing my filming, the track is still there. You can wander around the road network extending out from Nome and frequently you will see railroad equipment sitting on short pieces of track. The road that goes out to Solomon Lake, I think that's the name of it, comes to mind,
and it's got a boxcar, something else sitting off in the distance on trackage. There's stuff down at Council. There's stuff in the Anvil Creek basin. And there's stuff there in Nome itself that people have brought in.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have a sense of when, the time period of when those railroads were operational?
DAN GULLICKSON: I believe the one where the Last Train to Nowhere artifacts are went bankrupt about 1910. It never did get to where it was going to go, and because they were bankrupt, they didn't even try to salvage their equipment. And whoever got of whatever was left of the railroad just left it there because the heavy cost of transporting it back to someplace where it could be sold was just more than it was worth. So they just left it there.
KAREN BREWSTER: What was the purpose of all those railroads out there?
DAN GULLICKSON: Mines.
KAREN BREWSTER: Mining.
DAN GULLICKSON: Gold mining. Pure and simple, gold mining. The one that went from Council City upstream, which is where we've recovered some artifacts from, again, was mining. There were several mines outside of Council. And again, that was another narrow gauge operation, cheaper to build. The --
KAREN BREWSTER: And it's the same as here, bring the gold out and take freight in?
DAN GULLICKSON: Uh hum. Had very little hard rock mining, which for some reason, I guess, is cheaper. The placer mining requires a whole different technique, and boilers and dredges and the whole nine yards, that just takes a -- it's manpower intensive. And the cost is -- is more extensive because of that. Yeah, there weren't any settlements until the mines were developed, so I mean, Nome itself was a Gold Rush town.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Was -- now, any of that old railroad equipment out there, has there been a salvage and restoration effort like what you guys have done here?
DAN GULLICKSON: There have been collectors that have gone out to Nome and tried to get things. It was a lot easier the old days. There is a collector down in Anchorage, the same gentleman that has the boxcar, who salvaged and is in the process of restoring one of the locomotives from I believe the Council railroad. There have been collectors from California that have tried to come up and buy stuff, but along the line that people in that area have discovered that their history was disappearing. So getting things out of there nowadays is not too easy.
What we found, especially since a lot of it sits on private land, or Federal land, or Native corporation land, if it's on Federal land, then it comes under the Antiquities Act and basically is untouchable and it's just going to rot away. If it's on Native land, it's up to them whether they want to sell it or not. Same with private land. What we have salvaged all came from private land in Council. One of our members who was a videographer for KUAC was up in Council on a filming assignment doing absolutely nothing to do with railroads, it was some other project,
and one of the places he was filming, he noticed some railroad wheels sticking out of the dirt. So he was also in the process of developing a script for a story about the railroads in Alaska and the Yukon Territory. He got permission from the property owners to salvage, dig up and salvage what was there because they had no need for it, and he found quite a lot of stuff, and got permission from them to salvage it, bring it in here for our operations on the condition that we would restore one of the trucks and wheels for them so that they could exhibit it at the Council Museum,
or on their property or whatever. So we had no objections from anybody doing that. We recovered quite a bit of track, and especially we recovered switches and the various track pieces that form a switch, which we needed for here, because we had to build switches; and if you had to have them custom built, that would have been beyond our financial needs, we would have had to find a grant someplace to do it.
And we also salvaged and restored two trucks which we are now debating what we're going to put on top of them. And we have one or two more sitting back in a storage area behind the building. But again, any time we do salvage things, we've always done it with the property owner's permission. We hear a rumor about, oh, we think we found something you guys might want. Well, do you know who owns the property? No. So we get a GPS unit and somebody that knows how to operate it to go out and get the exact location of where it is.
And then we come back and one of our other persons is does land surveys and things like that, finds out who the property owner is.Then we approach them, tell them what we've found, and get their permission to go back and retrieve it. Alaska Gold was really great. We found two switch stands and two lengths of rail early in the project. We restored the switch stands and they are now in use on the Pioneer trackage where our track now takes off from the Pioneer Park trackage.
We used the rail for two things. One of them, right here, I don't know if you want to get a shot of that later, it's an actual piece of the Tanana Valley Railroad track, with a mint mark on it showing when it was made and where it was made. The remainder of the track, it was 30 feet long. The remainder of it and the other piece of track we cut into one inch segments and sold them for $10 a piece to raise money for what we needed to do here.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
DAN GULLICKSON: We since have recovered another piece of rail from somebody who found it in their backyard here at Fairbanks. It matches the mint marks. We've got trackage from a mine up off of Cleary Summit that whenever people discovered when they were out off roading in their pickup truck. And again, we got switch pieces and a lot of track, some of which we still haven't recovered because it's so long, but we were able to bring it in here. So basically, the -- our part of the part trackage is the recycled railroad.
It doesn't have any new pieces, it's all old.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, your restoration on the engine, we know they okayed it, there was bunch of guys who started doing it, how did you fund that?
DAN GULLICKSON: It was funded by donations, either direct donations. We had one fellow here in town by the name of Dick Sleet who began donating his longevity bonus check every month.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
DAN GULLICKSON: And that occurred for five or six years at least. We raised money from selling the track segments. We had an artist who was underwritten by the owner of A & B Auto, Randy Bonger (phonetic), who funded the creation of a pen and ink sketch, which we sold and are still selling.
We had another artist that stepped forward and designed our T shirts, which we continue to sell. The Chena Kiwanis Club funded he purchase of the initial T-shirts, so we never paid the artist, and the initial purchase of the T shirts has carried forward by it supporting itself, plus generating a modest income.
The State Farmers Insurance Group here in town funded our original railroad hats. And again, they've generated income to keep self producing. So there's been a lot of that. The Borough gave us a grant of $8,000 to help pay for the purchase of the new boiler, which was $18,000, but that was built in Rhode Island.
Well, Lynden Transport shipped it for us for free. And Federal Express shipped the parts from Fairbanks that they needed for it because we took the parts out of the old boiler that were usable and shipped them down to Rhode Island, and Federal Express flew those for free.
The rest of it's been community donations or sales from the souvenir shop or membership fees. We have a beautiful art print that was underwritten by one of our members that Randall Compton did, and so we sell those art prints.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, in terms of when you go about --
DAN GULLICKSON: And grants from the city bed tax.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, bed tax.
DAN GULLICKSON: They pay for our insurance. It costs us between 4 and $5,000 a year for liability insurance to operate the steam locomotive and operate the building, and bed tax insurance covers that. The only years it hasn't has been the years when we didn't apply for it because we were told by the newspaper that there wasn't going to be a program.
So there were two years where we never bothered to apply for the tax, and of course, they still had the program. Last year was tough because we didn't have a -- we had to take it out of general revenue to cover operations.
KAREN BREWSTER: When you're restoring something like this, you know, how do you find parts for it? Do you have to machine parts or do you just have to clean what's there? I don't know how that works.
DAN GULLICKSON: Well, basically, you take it apart, which is what we did, to determine what needs to be replaced. As we disassembled it, before anything was taken apart, it was photographed, and then we had the same gentleman who did the pen and ink sketch came in and sketched the assembly, and anything that was visible, like if there were parts numbers cast into a piece, that was also recorded.
So we detailed very much what we were doing while we did it. Any time we had any questions, we were not afraid to make a phone call. Once we got it apart, then we cleaned everything up to see where the wear, worn areas were.
We had to replace -- I'll use not the correct railroad term, I'll use a common term -- we had to replace the wheel bearings, we had to replace the axle bearings. In this case, they are brass castings, and they are called running blocks. And we think that those are the main reason that they quit using the train, or the engine, because the castings had broken, actually been screwed back together.
They are one piece castings. So we had to find a foundry that was willing to do that, but we also had to find, if we could, the original plans for the locomotive, and find somebody who could take the plan for those parts and redraw it so that it only had the pertinent information. We scored a hundred percent on both cases.
When the Porter Factory closed down, as far as locomotive operations, they still exist in the same building, but they manufacture tools now. Those plans were sold at auction to a collector from Canada. When he died, his family gave everything to a museum, I believe, in Toronto. And Toronto microfilmed everything, but in no particular order. We found out about the collection in the archives, ordered the set for us.
KAREN BREWSTER: The archives here at the university?
DAN GULLICKSON: Uh hum. And so we were able to gain access to all these microfilms, but then we had to find what we were looking for.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum.
DAN GULLICKSON: So again, our experts from Wasilla came up here and spent a week going through it and copying anything that related to our particular model of locomotive. So we had the plans. And they wanted the engineers at BLM, who was one of our members, on his free time, took the plans for the running blocks, redrew them, and then we sent the originals plus the plans to the fellow down in -- I believe it was in Oklahoma, who recast them and sent them back up.
The other thing that we had to replace was the driving pins which the cranks from the cylinders attached to, and which make the wheels go around. Those were all worn, and so those had to be replaced. Those were machined here in town. I don't believe we had to pay for that, either. That was donated time and materials. And then, of course, they had to go through an interesting process of putting the driving pins into the wheels. And they had to shrink them in dry ice.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, because they wouldn't fit?
DAN GULLICKSON: To make the metal shrink so that they would fit tightly in the holes in the wheels. That was interesting watching them do that. Maybe that's why they call them driving pins. But no, the crank drives the pin to make it go around. But there was it was not an easy job to do.
KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like the whole restoration was not an easy job to do. How long did it take all together?
DAN GULLICKSON: We started taking the locomotive apart in the spring and summer of 1992, and it slowly intensified, and then it was a stalemate while the new boiler was being produced. The new boiler arrived back here in the fall of 1999, and at that point, we were in what we call the Yerkovich building, which was the structure that we enclosed to make a maintenance shop area out of it.
We didn't have a pit there, so we had a -- we had to dig a hole in the ground between the ties so that somebody could get underneath the locomotive and work. But we installed the boiler and started putting it back together, and the following spring, the crew from Rhode Island came back again and finished the reassembling and testing. By that time, the engine cab had been rebuilt, and that's a story in itself. And so we started steaming it up and testing it the week before July 4th of 2000. And we had it running and pulling passengers on July 4th of 2000, after an approximate retirement date of 1923.
KAREN BREWSTER: That was my question, when they had stopped using it, in 1923?
DAN GULLICKSON: We've got a couple of pieces of paper, photocopies of documents that I'm not positive on the dates, but this was an old fashioned engine, and the way it attached itself to other cars was a system called link and pin, which is not the same as cars today, which have couplers that grab onto each other like that, and that's the way they go. Link and pin, you had a link extending out from the back of one car with a hole in it, and a pin extending out the front of the next car with a hole in it. You had to line -- and they moved. You had to line those two up and drop the pin in while equipment was running.
Many railroad workers, gandydancers, lost fingers over the years on that. It was about 1923 that the general manager of the Alaska Railroad wrote a letter stating that they were to immediately discontinue the use of any link and pin equipment, which would have meant this would have been put on a siding at that point because that's what it was. Up until that point, we've got photographs of it involved in the construction of the extension down in Nenana because we can pinpoint the locations of where it was working in the yards, pulling equipment on the tracks,
so the photographic coverage of this locomotive is pretty good, even in Canada, one of the reasons being that it's the only one that is built exactly like that. There are others that were built also, but the smoke box, which is what the front of the engine is that the lamp is sitting on, they had shorter smoke boxes all the rest of them. This was the only one that had an extended smoke box, so in the other ones, they had like -- sits out in the rack in front of the smoke box, and it's really easy to tell the difference. This is the only one, and in the photograph, all you have to do is look at it and see what the front looks like.
KAREN BREWSTER: So tell me about the --the story about the
DAN GULLICKSON: The engine cab?
KAREN BREWSTER: The cab part here.
DAN GULLICKSON: We had a really nice story, a full section, basically, in the News Miner back about 1998 on what we were doing. And one of the questions that was asked was what problems do you still face. And I said that we needed to make a new cab, and we hadn't located a cabinetmaker that would be willing to work for us at no cost, or -- or greatly reduced cost. And we were here working in the park the next weekend, and a gentleman by the name of Clay Spurling, who I just can't say enough of,
showed up with a news clipping and he says, I hear you're looking for a cabinetmaker. And he built it in his shop. The wood was sold to us by Superior Hardwoods at cost. We shipped Clay and our artist, again, down to Dawson to visit the Dawson Museum where a Porter locomotive was also sitting, that had a cab in good shape on it, so that they could sketch the way the pieces of wood were joined together to make sure the restoration was authentic. And measure it also.
Plus we compared those to the measurements from the blueprints we found to make sure that we could as much as possible come up with an accurate new cab rather than a restored cab. The cab that we took off, based on the photographic record, was Cab Number 3 or Cab Number 4, I'm not sure of the sequence, but because we have so many photographs, we've been able to document changes over the years. And so we wanted to make sure that this was equal to Cab Number 1, which we did.
KAREN BREWSTER: Cool.
DAN GULLICKSON: And probably the only difference is the top is clad in copper sheeting, which Holiday Parks donated to us. And we're not quite sure what metal would have been used by the railroads in the old days, or if it was even covered with metal to start with. Shortly after the railroad in Canada got it, they covered it with metal roofing, with corrugated metal roofing they put on top of it. But railroad cars also were clad in canvas and with paint on top of them. The problem there being the sparks will have burned through the canvas. So we wanted to protect this real well.
And then, oh, I never did mention the water tank was another thing that had to be replaced. We were able to salvage the front and the back and everything attached to the water tank.
KAREN BREWSTER: And the water tank is that big round part in the middle?
DAN GULLICKSON: Sits on top of the locomotive. But the body itself had to be replaced. Holiday Parks did that for us for free. In fact, any -- any metalwork that has had a need to be done, they restored the headlamp for us, they provided the wood for the Pioneer Park passenger car that we restored, so we have our own passenger car. And when we restored it, we decided not to put a canvas roof on it, but we clad it in sheet metal, and then we covered it with the same spray that you put on your beds, bed liner.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
DAN GULLICKSON: So
KAREN BREWSTER: Tough bed liner?
DAN GULLICKSON: So it makes it look like it's a canvas cover, but it really isn't. Again, we didn't want it to burn through the roof; if we do a restoration, we want it to last. And Holiday Parks was -- were there, any time you needed them.
KAREN BREWSTER: And they are a Fairbanks company?
DAN GULLICKSON: They are a Fairbanks metal fabricating company over in Aurora Subdivision.
KAREN BREWSTER: So I want to ask a little bit about now you have this beautiful building here at Pioneer Park, and how that came about and the relationship between Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad and Pioneer Park.
DAN GULLICKSON: That's -- we needed a new building for the locomotive. We needed a building other than the pole shed that we had been given because there just was no way to -- to maintain or take care of -- of what we had completed. Along the course of the project, shortly after we started, there was discussion about applying for a special section funds from a special section of the Federal Highways Act which specified that money had to be given to either document or repair, something to do with historic modes of transportation,
either waysides with interpretive signage or something like that. But one of our members was very much opposed to -- to doing anything that required Federal tax dollars. He said, I don't want to be involved. So we didn't get involved. But then somehow the folks that needed to restore the barn at Creamers Field got access to those dollars and were able to use it, and at that point we said, well, if they are going to do it, we're certainly more connected to railway -- to modes of transportation, so let's see if we can get our foot in the door.
One of our members talked to a friend who worked for the Department of Transportation, which administers those funds, and so we got our foot in the door, but it really wasn't ever enough money that we could use. It was just planning dollars. It got up to about 19 -- we actually had a plan for the building already drawn, but no way to fund it. One of our members was one of the original designers of Pioneer Park and had actually been the architect for the what's called now the Pioneer Park Civic Center, or whatever it is. And he was in the Lions Club,
and we'd had no involvement from any clubs in particular, but as it ended up, we had folks from Kiwanis and folks from Lions involved in the project. He designed a structure for us, complete with construction ready blueprints, including the mechanical and electrical, everything we needed, we just didn't have a plan. So when the money got up to about $10,000, none of it having being spent, just the grant was being expanded every year, it was just about when it was assured that we were going to be able to finish this project and we needed a place to put it. So we went over to the Department of Transportation and showed them our plans,
and said, you know, that $10,000 is great actually, that was year 2000 -- that $10,000 you've got in the budget is great for the restoration of the locomotive, but it's done. It's operating. $10,000 isn't needed. What is needed is the money to build this building, and we gave them the blueprints. They spent about a month talking about it locally here and decided to push for it. So with their backing, then we went over to the Borough Assembly, had a meeting with the Borough Assembly and explained what we were trying to do, but it had to have Borough approval,
since they would not be able to give a completed building to us, it would have to be given to the Borough. And got their approval, and the process went forward from there. And we end up with this, which isn't exactly what Don Stedson (phonetic) planned, but it incorporates all of his ideas.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so you have a continued partnership with Pioneer Park?
DAN GULLICKSON: Definitely. Yeah. It's a beautiful partnership. They own the building, they take care of all the maintenance and utilities, we operate the building for them. And it's been great.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you have to pay rent on the building, or
DAN GULLICKSON: We pay an annual lease for the local -- excuse me, for the locomotive and for the building.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, for their -- their Number 67?
DAN GULLICKSON: No, for Number 1.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. It's still considered their locomotive?
DAN GULLICKSON: Yeah, it's -- it's their property. Engine Number 1-- you know, I said we did a lot of research and we really have done a lot of research on this project. One thing we needed to determine was who actually owned the locomotive. We could find no papers. There was nothing in the Alaska Railroad stuff we could find indicating they'd ever given it to the city. And there was nothing really on paper that the city had ever given it to the Borough. Pioneer Park was -- or Alaskaland, which it was formerly called, was originally owned and operated by the city. They just moved the locomotive from where it used to be parked over to Pioneer Park.
And actually, the Alaska Railroad cosmetically restored the locomotive back in 1966, so they picked up the train off of where it was stored, took it to Anchorage, rehabbed it in Anchorage, and brought it back up and put it out here in the park for the city. And then when the Borough took over the park, they assumed ownership of the property and everything on it, which, of course, Engine Number 1 was on it, so that was more or less considered automatic. But they were running around scared for a bit. And let's see.
KAREN BREWSTER: So the Borough owns and the Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad operate it?
DAN GULLICKSON: Uh hum. We operate it, we don't charge them for operating it.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's a pretty good relationship.
DAN GULLICKSON: It's, you know, we scratch their back and they scratch ours. And we work together on the Santa Claus train, we work together on the -- on the Spooky Train, Halloween, and anything else that we can come up with.
KAREN BREWSTER: And maintenance of the track? How does that
DAN GULLICKSON: There's been an interesting co -- co working or amending, whatever you want to call it, of responsibilities and concerns. We talked the park several years ago into having a certified track inspector come out, and that was actually when this building was under construction and we had to build the new trackage to get into the building. And so they agreed to do that. And we've contracted with that same company now, they have, for annual inspections and for any track work that needs to be done, other than minor day to day maintenance.
Minor day to day maintenance is taken care of by one of the park employees, plus our people. One of our folks goes out and basically walks the track every evening for exercise with a sledge hammer, checking for loose spikes and loose rim. And because of that increased attention, we haven't had any problems at all. So it's really been a great relationship. And of course, the passenger car they gave us; it was in very bad shape because it had been exposed to the weather so much. It wasn't used generally in the summertime,
it was just parked on the siding, and so without being used, water would gather and wood would rot, so we restored it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, historically, what about track maintenance? Was somebody always out there walking the whole line with a sledge hammer.
DAN GULLICKSON: The park took care of it itself.
KAREN BREWSTER: No, I mean when the -- when Tanana Valley Railroad was operational.
DAN GULLICKSON: Oh, yeah, they would have had people, they were called gandydancers, that's what their job is, track maintenance. Springtime was intensive because you had to deal with washouts, or overflows, if a washout didn't occur. Sometimes going through the Chatanika Valley, and the Goldstream Valley, you would have someone sitting on the front of the locomotive with a long pole, and the locomotive moving fairly slowly so the person in front could be checking to see if the track had been washed out because in the spring runoff, it would come right across the track.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I was wondering if they -- back then those guys were walking the track with a sledge hammer pounding it? I suppose.
DAN GULLICKSON: Or they were providing inspection cars. This -- this little bugger right here behind me is a -- was used for track inspections, called a velocipede. And a person would ride it going back and forth on the handle to make it go forward, it would have racks with tools on the side of it, and any time they saw a spot, they could stop and make whatever repairs were necessary or call in for bigger equipment. They also had crew cabs, or crew cars that were powered. We have an antique one that the Binkley family donated to us from the Eldorado Gold Camp. And we restored that. They had brought it up from Colorado. And so we used that.
It's, I think, a 1912 vintage. And then we have another one that we -- we were given a set of four from the Wasilla Transportation Museum, who had gotten it from the Alaska Railroad, so we had to downsize them to make them fit on this track. And we are in the process of finishing the restoration of one now. We have got it up and running, but we still need to finish the cab. But we still use it. And it hauls our water car that we use in the summertime because smoke or ashes, the sparks from wood and coal can start fires. We have a fire car. And it follows the train around the park,
and it's equipped with a pump and fire hoses so that as a little spot fire occurs, we can get it out right away.
KAREN BREWSTER: Cool.
DAN GULLICKSON: And that's basically what they did in the old days, really.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, are you burning wood in your steam engine or are you using coal?
DAN GULLICKSON: We burn coal. This was originally designed as a coal burner because it worked on the coal mines.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.
DAN GULLICKSON: All the rest of them are -- look like this, had a short -- shorter smoke box; and for whatever reason, the shorter smoke box is what you used for burning wood. However, when it came down to Fairbanks, there was no coal. So they had to burn wood.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
DAN GULLICKSON: Any -- I would say probably it wouldn't be farfetched to say that as far as your eye can see from around here, this is all second growth timber.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
DAN GULLICKSON: It was all cut down to either power the riverboats, the power plant, or the locomotives until coal came.
KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. Okay. Well, I think maybe we should go take a look at the engine up close and personal, and show us the inner workings.
DAN GULLICKSON: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: I feel like we've covered everything in here. DAN GULLICKSON: Well, I can't think of anything else. If you wanted to scan the camera, we've got a lot of interesting pieces. That's from the second Fairbanks Railroad Station. The one that's downtown is Version Number 3. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, we can take some still photos of some of these things. DAN GULLICKSON: This thing here. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. DAN GULLICKSON: Tools that were used for working on the railroad. KAREN BREWSTER: I think we're going to take a pause. (Pause in interview.) DAN GULLICKSON: All right. Checking to see KAREN BREWSTER: Hello, track worker. DAN GULLICKSON: Seeing if it's safe.
I don't know where to start. First you want to know how the -- how the steam thing works.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
DAN GULLICKSON: Do you want to get -- this is called -- are you taping now?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
DAN GULLICKSON: This is called the firebox, and it's where we build the fire to make the steam locomotive go. Some of the pieces are gone from it right now because we're doing maintenance, but essentially, the big hole there is the firebox, and that's where it's -- the fire is laid to heat the water to produce steam. And then that steam -- steam is transmitted from the boiler, which sits up on top here, and is also out in front of the locomotive, through a maze of pipes of cylinders.
KAREN BREWSTER: So which -- this
DAN GULLICKSON: This is the water tank.
KAREN BREWSTER: This big thing here is the
DAN GULLICKSON: This is the water tank. And the back of it and the front of it are from the original water tank, but it's no longer a riveted water tank. These are fake rivets, which we got from the parts bin at Alaska Gold Company and cut off to make fakes so it would look like the original one, which was a riveted water tank. The -- this is the opening for where the water is dumped into the locomotive. And those are all original pieces, with the exception of the top. The top is recast from a sister engine, which is down at the collector's property in Eagle River because he also has the remains of one of these.
The sand dome is all original. Sand is put in here, and then when you need the extra traction, the engineer pulls a lever that lets the sand drop down through these pipes and drops it right on the rail between the wheels, which gives extra traction, just as if you were driving your car and you got stuck, you wanted to throw some sand in front of the wheels, you know, this is how we do it with a locomotive. The steam, then, is transmitted to these cylinders, which are just like an automobile engine in a way, as far as cylinders; you have a piston which moves because gasoline vapors exploded inside the cylinder,
so it drives the piston back and forth. That action is transmitted to this rod, which goes -- no, this rod here, here, which goes back and forth to the rear wheel where it's attached by the driving pins to the wheels. And then that mechanical action is also transferred to the front wheels by another rod. And when this goes back and forth, it makes this go around and around and around. And that's how the steam locomotive works. There are a lot of various mechanical pieces under here that are involved in the operation also,
but that's the simplistic version of it. The smoke from the fire and the heat goes through tubes that -- well, that bolt is on so I can't get to it. They are inside the boiler. So the boiler wraps around -- so the boiler is behind here. The boiler wraps around these tubes, and the boiler contains the water that gets from here into it. And then that water in the boiler is heated by the heat that is transmitted in the tubes. Now, the smoke has to go someplace, so those tubes exhaust their smoke and heat into this,
which is called the smoke box, and then it is exhausted through the smokestack. That's the simplistic version.
KAREN BREWSTER: That makes sense.
DAN GULLICKSON: This is a very valuable piece of the locomotive. It's the original builder's plate. There would be one on both sides of the locomotive on the original boiler, that's where they were, but we had to remove them when the boiler was replaced. So on this side we have the original builder's plate, the other one is in the display cabinet; on the opposite side we have the builder's plate from the company that built the new boiler, which is confusing to some people. And I mentioned link and pin. Well, this is where a coupling would be fitted on the front of the locomotive, excuse me,
and this is a pin that would drop down, and the link would fit through here or here. And we have one on the back of the locomotive, too.
KAREN BREWSTER: I can see how fingers could get lost.
DAN GULLICKSON: Oh, yeah, because, you know, if you've ever backed a trailer up to your -- or backed your car up to a trailer, just to fit that trailer tongue over the knuckle, it's the same idea.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, these were a lot heavier things to hook up.
DAN GULLICKSON: Well, yeah. And the engineer's way up there in front of you, and he can't see what's happening. He has no idea. And these things are noisy so he probably can't hear what you're saying. You're dealing with hand signals. And you can't signal because you're concentrating on here, so somebody else has got to be over here giving the hand signals. Not a very safe profession.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know why they were called gandydancers? What's that -- where that term comes from?
DAN GULLICKSON: We have tried to find out the answer to that question for a long time, and no, I don't. There's been nothing definitive.
KAREN BREWSTER: Because it's an interesting term.
DAN GULLICKSON: Yeah. Yeah. It's a very interesting term. And every time it seems that you go on a search, you get a new answer for one reason. Another one is a rumor was that the standard gauge wheel base was based on the wheel base that the old Roman chariots had, and the fact that their roads were basically stone and the chariot wheels ground into the stoneworks, and that was basically the gauge of those wheels. And for some reason, the early railroads, that transpired into the same thing, but their recent research indicates that's not true.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Well, it looks like we -- is that the general tour of the locomotive, or
DAN GULLICKSON: I can't think of anything else, other than the headlamp is probably at least 50 percent original. The kerosene lamp that's inside we are still trying to find plans for the inner workings of what one of the headlamps actually was. We know it was kerosene, but as far as whether it was something that would slide in and out or not, we don't know. And if it was a standard piece, you could go to a hardware store and buy a replacement. We suspected it was, but until we can find out for sure, we're sticking with what we have. They really don't generate too much light,
at least this one doesn't; it's mainly for cosmetic purposes. The original wood had to be replaced and Clay Spurling did that, again, for us.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, somebody would have stood up here on the front? I mean, it looks like a
DAN GULLICKSON: A person could have stood up here, and -- and we don't have that because of safety reasons.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
DAN GULLICKSON: But somebody could have. If they were particularly checking with a long pole to see if the roadbed had washed out.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right. Well
DAN GULLICKSON: I can't think of anything else.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right. That's great.
DAN GULLICKSON: Just about I'd say 80 percent of the locomotive, we are very fortunate, is all original. It went through two floods, but -- even the 1967 flood, but because everything has so -- was so impregnated with oil and lubricants, when we took the cylinders apart, there was no rust on the cylinders or the pistons. And the only reason we had to replace the piston rings was one of our people wasn't careful enough when they were removing them to check them and broke one, so we had to replace all four. Each -- each piston had two rings. That was a little bit of a job finding somebody who had piston rings for an 1899 locomotive.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right. Well
DAN GULLICKSON: The bell
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah.
DAN GULLICKSON: -- was found in the museum at Wasilla. And that, again, was due to the blueprints that we found. This bell had been laying around there with no name or anything on it, it had a history which was incorrect because it said the bell was cast by a foundry in Juneau, which there was never a foundry that could have cast a brass bell. So they had never exhibited it. And the people that came up from Wasilla that went through the blueprints recognized it from the blueprints, so they transferred it to us.
KAREN BREWSTER: Good.
DAN GULLICKSON: There's a lot of stories about the bell disappearing in scavenger hunts over the years and being refound, and then disappearing again. And we spent about a year chasing rumors around town, people that had bells in their yards, comparing them to the blueprints to make sure that what we were doing was correct. So it's -- it's been an interesting lesson in history. The whistle came from the Pioneers Museum.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right.
DAN GULLICKSON: It's not very often that you can make history come alive, which is basically what all we've done. And all of the volunteer help, we have no paid employees.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, Dan, thank you very much for your time. This has been great. Thank you a lot.
DAN GULLICKSON: You're welcome.
KAREN BREWSTER: All right.