The railroad is connected to the lower 48 via three rail barges that sail between the Port of Whittier and Harbor Island in Seattle but does not currently have a fixed land connection with any other railroad lines on the North American network.
In 1933, the Alaska began running seasonal passenger trains two times a week between Seward and Anchorage, 114 miles, and between Anchorage and Fairbanks, 356 miles. The State of Alaska bought the railroad from the US government in 1985 and continued running its seasonal passenger trains.
The Alaska Railroad bought three "Mikado" type locomotives from the Baldwin Locomotive Works during 1927 and 1928. These locomotives were assigned road numbers 701 through 703. Numbers 701 and 702, delivered in 1927, had 54" diameter drivers, 22" x 28" cylinders, a 200 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 42,600 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed 244,400 pounds. Number 703, delivered in 1928, was very similar to numbers 701 and 702 but had a 210 psi boiler pressure, which meant it exerted 44,800 pounds of tractive effort. Number 703 weighed 244,120 pounds.
All three locomotives had a firebox area of 246 square feet. The evaporative surface was 2,718 square feet and with the superheater had a combined heating surface of 3,339 square feet.
Two other "Mikado" Type locomotives were added to the roster during 1942-1943. The Alaska Railroad bought two second hand locomotives from the Northern Pacific. They were former NP numbers 1676 and 1692.
There are no surviving Alaska Railroad 2-8-2 "Mikado" type locomotives.
|Qty.||Road Numbers||Year Built||From Other RR||Year Acquired||Builder||Notes|
Data from  (visited 22 December 2004). See also DeGolyer, Vol 77, pp. 800+. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 8 August 2016 reporting the original boiler pressure on 701-702 and booster TE.) Works numbers were 59605-59606 in October 1926, 60689 in December 1928.This trio of Mikados faced "extreme cold and heavy snow" and would be cresting at aptly named Summit, Alaska's high point of 2,350 feet (716 metres). The 700s used 13" (330 mm) piston valves and had fireboxes fitted wth four American Security arch tubes contributing 25 sq ft (2.3 sq m) to the direct heating surface area in addition to 37 sq ft (3.45 sq m) of combustion chamber area. According to the Baldwin specs, any extra heating help would be welcome because the "low grade soft coal" yielded a modest 10,500 to 12,000 BTU per pound. Chris Hohl notes that the first two locomotives were delivered with their boilers set to 200 psi. The Alaska Railroad diagram and the Baldwin specs beginning at p. 806 shows that the setting on the 703 was 210 psi (13.8 bar), which translated to a starting tractive effort of 44,800 lb (20,321 kg). Booster tractive effort for all three was 11,800 lb (5,352 kg). These were among the first locomotives to be purchased new by the ARR and they served in steam into the 1950s. In 1954, all three were sold to Spain's FC Langreo. Apparently none of these ever actually went into service and were scrapped soon after their arrival.
|Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media|
|Number in Class||3|
|Locomotive Length and Weight|
|Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)||14.50 / 4.42|
|Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)||33.17 / 10.11|
|Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase||0.44|
|Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)||68.08 / 20.75|
|Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)||46,500 / 21,092|
|Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)||175,680 / 79,687|
|Engine Weight (lbs / kg)||244,120 / 110,731|
|Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)||197,280 / 89,485|
|Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)||441,400 / 200,216|
|Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)||10,000 / 37.88|
|Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)||14 / 12.70|
|Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)||73 / 36.50|
|Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort|
|Driver Diameter (in / mm)||54 / 1372|
|Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)||200 / 13.80|
|High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)||22" x 28" / 559x711|
|Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)||42,664 / 19352.09|
|Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort)||4.12|
|Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)||246 / 22.85|
|Grate Area (sq ft / m2)||57.70 / 5.36|
|Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)||2718 / 252.51|
|Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)||621 / 57.69|
|Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)||3339 / 310.20|
|Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume||220.63|
|Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)|
|Robert LeMassena's Power Computation||11,540|
|Same as above plus superheater percentage||13,733|
|Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area||58,548|