This Rare WWII Footage From 1942 Shows Alaska Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

Talk about a blast from the past! This rare footage of World War II in Alaska is a unique look into the past. When we look around at all of our modern amenities and easy-to-come-by luxury items, it’s easy to forget about what life was like over 70 years ago (especially for those of us that weren’t born yet). But when all is said and done, it’s so important to remember where we came from and to celebrate those that fought to defend our freedom – even before we came into this wild world.

The history of Alaska feels short, especially if you think of how long we’ve been a state. We’re still young to the United States, and our past is incredible interesting. This footage documents the Alaska Railroad being re-opened by the U.S. Army during World War II. Skagway, most famously known from it’s Klondike Gold Rush days, made the news again. It’s port was opened as a supply line for troops guarding the arctic outpost. Ships poured in with supplies to assure that the front line fighters were well nourished. The Yukon Railroad which had recently became operated by the U.S. Army, heads for a point on the Alaska truck highway. This is one of the best war videos of Alaska that you’ll find just about anywhere.

A minimum of three engines were needed to make the trip through the winding, steep mountain terrain carrying hundreds of pounds of supplies for the troops. The area was said to be one of the steepest railroad treks in the entire world. As you’ll see, the heavy loads go over scarce bridges and it makes you cringe thinking about how unstable those support beams likely were over 70 years ago. The train would go deep into the heart of the Yukon Territory where trucks would transport freight to Alaska for the WWII troops. It’s so unique to see that relationship between Canada and America play out in the footage. It is also incredibly humbling to see how much our transportation gateways as well as our automobiles have evolved over the last 70 years. When pouring through old videos of Alaska, it is always remarkable to come across a gem like this one!

Have you ever seen this footage from World War II in Alaska? What did you think? Was it positively mind blowing? Do you know anyone who was in Alaska during World War II? Let us know in the comments below!

Do you love accessing Alaska via the railroad? Check out these 6 epic train rides in the last frontier that will give you a truly unforgettable experience. And if you love all things to do with the Alaska Railroad, then you need to check out This Historic Alaska Railroad Car That Is Now A Restaurant Where You’ll Want To Plan Your Visit.

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World War II In Alaska

December 17, 2020

Does Alaska have a lot of World War II History?

Yes! Many people forget about what a role Alaska played during World War II. Many of the small towns and villages that we have now were built up for use during the war. In fact, there are even large military compounds that were completely abandoned after the war. One of the most famous ones, the Buckner Building, was still in use after the war until the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake damaged it beyond its ability to be safely repaired. But Alaska has benefited from the money that poured in during the war, including the building up of our railroad, and other great means of infrastructure within the state. 

What’s the most famous battle of World War II in Alaska?

The Battle of Attu is the most famous World War II battle in Alaska. American forces finally retook the island of Attu and nearby Kiska from the Japanese after they held it captive for 11 months. This battle is the only battle fought in Alaska, and the only battle that took place on U.S. soil. The battle was 19 days long, and over 2,300 Japanese men were killed, and almost 4,000 U.S. Allied casualties.