Whittier Alaska

Whittier, Alaska was originally built as a secret Army base in WWII. They cut a 2.5 mile tunnel through the mountain for railroad use only. When they did the tunnel, they started at both ends and dug to the middle where they were within one foot of each other – pretty good for 1940s technology.

The Army built two large buildings for personnel: the Hodge Building for housing and the Buckner Building, which was called a “city under a roof” as it housed military personnel, had a commissary, bowling alley, movie theater, gym – everything that a soldier could want in this isolated area:

Buckner Building

All of the military buildings were abandoned in the 1960s. The town of Whittier reclaimed the Hodge Building and remade it into condos/apartments where the 180 full-time residents of Whittier live today. There is no other housing anywhere in town. The Buckner Building remains empty.

In the 1950s, locals began developing Whittier as a fishing mecca and shipping port, using the Alaska Railroad as the method for moving people in and out. In 1998, the railroad tunnel was converted to use by both cars and trains. It remains as the only land access to Whittier.

Whittier Tunnel

We may want to wait a minute or two...

We stayed at the Inn at Whittier, one of only a couple hotels in town. The view from the room was excellent:

At least until this guy showed up:

Our hotel is the grey building to the right

Coast Guard station and Harbormaster building

Hodge Building (now called the Begich Towers)

Bald Eagle nest overlooking the harbor

Coming out of the tunnel into Whittier

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