Farthest North Garden Railway, Phase III, Klondike Mines Railway

Klondike Mines Railway model in large scale

The Farthest North Garden Railway

Phase III

The final phase, three of three, is the Klondike Mines narrow gauge Railway project.

The KMR came about as a kind of spin-off of the White Pass & Yukon. The original engineer for this construction project was Erasus Hawkins--the same one who oversaw the construction of the WPRR and later the CRNW Railway itself.

KMR was intended to take advantage of the enormous amount of activity occurring between Dawson City on the Yukon River and the gold fields that existed on at least four creeks which were tributaries of the Klondike River: Bonanza, Eldorado, Bear and Hunker Creeks.

Just downstream from the confluence of Bonanza and Eldorado Creeks was the discovery claim which started the Klondike gold rush. At the confluence would quickly rise the town of Grand Rapids. The bulk of the active claims centered on this town which at one point is said to have had a population of 10,000. Visiting that same spot today, it is difficult to imagine that. Not more than one or two derelict cabins remain where a very busy town once prospered--if only for a brief time.

Beyond Grand Forks, the plan was to continue a railroad grade all the way to Whitehorse, thus connecting with the White Pass where it terminated.

However by the time the railroad was built in 1906, the rush was long over and the proposed connecting line would end out in the middle of nowhere in a long-forgotten place way up in the hills known as Soda Springs where a wye provided the remote turn-around for this 30-mile railroad line.

The terminal was located at a place called Klondike City by the KMR, but known as Lousetown by the people of Dawson because this is where the red light district was located--on the wrong side of the tracks as well as the wrong side of the Klondike River. The closest connection between the two for many years was the Klondike River bridge.

The KMR ended up running mostly firewood to supply the various dredges that were built to take up where those original prospectors left off--dredging out whatever remained from the bottom of those shallow creeks that emptied into the Klondike River. The railway did record a slight profit for two of its later years, but it was already obsolete by the time it was built and was thus doomed from the beginning. The KMR ran for the last time in 1913 before abandoning everything in place.

Over time some the equipment, including one of four locomotives, was salvaged, but three of the four engines were left at the abandoned Klondike City terminal and eventually moved to Dawson City for display.

To my knowledge, the KMR has never been modeled in large-scale. I decided that this would be a suitable project for my ever-growing outdoor railway.

Above: the railroad bridge at the Klondike River heading into Dawson City.

Below: One of several alternative drawings showing a likely way that the new Phase III line would be constructed. The project requires simulating a very small segment of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers as well as elements of Bonanza, Dawson and perhaps Bear Creek.

The wye at Old Inn was the turn-around for the KMR which was nearest its terminal on the Yukon River. The wye at Dawson was planned but never built. The other wye at Soda Springs was necessary for turning around the small consists at the very end of the 30-mile line.

The plan calls for representative structures from the three towns as well as possibly the camp at Bear Creek. This will be the only set of structures which will not be built under cover. Thus, these historic model buildings will be designed in such a way as to be able to handle snow, ice, rain and, of course, a lot os summer direct sunlight.

This project may begin as soon as the 2008 season, but it is more likely that the on-going Phase II project will dominate the limited time available for working on outdoor projects in interior sub-arctic Alaska.

I already possess the main engine to be utilized for this project--an Accucraft 1:20.3 K-27, which will become engine number 2, a Mikado. Engine number 1, a mogul, is yet to be selected. The Bear Creek camp utilized four identical Porters. I have already acquired these (LGB Porters) just for this project.

Additionally, two other narrow-gauge lines existed in the area--Coal Creek and Cliff Creek. These were both for servicing coal mines and were down the Yukon River from Dawson City. It is possible that at least one and maybe both of these lines will ultimately be included in the project.

The Phase III project is the only one intended to exist totally at ground level. Phase I is seven to ten feet above the ground while Phase II averages seven feet above ground level. Phase II will have one segment which will eventually exist at ground level. This segment is known as Phase II-a and is not shown on the above drawing.

The dark red line just beyond the Phase II wye is a proposed segment to connect back to Cicely as an extended loop. This will likely be installed in the 2008 season. All of that section will average seven feet above the ground.


The Farthest North Garden Railway:

Phase III-KMR Railway in 1:20.3 scale, Pt B

Klondike City, track switch to the locomotive storage building. Click for larger image

Klondike City: showing the terminal and bridge over the Klondike enabling access to Dawson City: This segment will be reproduced largely as shown on this historic map. Click for larger map image.


Klondike City KMR railroad yard: top picture shows the locomotive barn  with front facing the river at an angle. Lower picture shows front of barn with two locomotives parked in front. Either image can be clicked to a larger size.

These scenes will be reproduced on the model largely as shown in the historic photos.

Klondike City and Dawson City will be in the front of the model as seen (on the left) from the parking area.  A trench will have to be dug to accommodate the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, which will feature moving water.

To Be Continued 


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