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Alaska Railroad highlights its role in legendary serum run 90 years ago

Travelers can experience part of the serum run on Alaska Railroad's train from Anchorage to Fairbanks

Alaska Railroad will mark the 90th anniversary of the famed serum run with expanded service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, part of the rail route involved in the historic journey.

The idea is to offer visitors a chance to retrace the rail portion of the route on which life-saving diphtheria antitoxin was transported to the isolated western town of Nome, where an outbreak of the disease nine decades ago was killing children.

Sled dogs and mushers get much of the glory for their courageous relay on the last leg of the journey across the remote tundra, but the train played a key role too. It brought the serum from the southern port of Seward as far as Nenana, outside Fairbanks, and handed it off to the mushers.

"Since time was such an issue, it would have been unlikely that the serum would have arrived to Nome in time if the railroad had not taken it to Nenana," Dan Seavey Sr., who helped coordinate the first Iditarod sled dog race, says in a statement.

Indeed, the precious transport arrived on Feb. 2, 1925, in time to prevent an epidemic.

For those who want to experience the route, Alaska Railroad is adding midweek service on its Winter Aurora Train between Fairbanks and Anchorage from Feb. 24 to March 18.

Visitors will be able to witness the snow-covered landscape firsthand on Sundays and Wednesdays traveling north from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and Saturdays and Tuesdays on the reverse route. The 12-hour journey costs $179 each way.

If you take the train to Anchorage on March 7, you'll be able to see the ceremonial start of the Iditarod (the real start is in Willow).

Or, for an extra charge, you can take the Fairbanks train to Coldfoot and have your own dog-sledding adventure near Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve.

Info: Alaska Railroad, (800) 544-0552


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