The Whittier Tunnel exhibit features an archive of original photographs from the personal collection of Spencer (Jack) Shrode. Mr. Shrode served as the superintendent in charge of the construction of the tunnel. His images begin with his arrival at the head of the Passage Canal in 1941. The images correlate with the daily entries in the diary of Anton Anderson, chief engineer of the tunnel. Anderson's diary entries are also included within the exhibit. Two artifacts are on exhibit as well: the clock from the West Construction mess hall and a drill bit that was used to bore through the last wall of rock within the tunnel. West Construction Co. was the primary civilian contractor for the construction of the tunnel and the rail port of Whittier.
The Building of the Whittier Tunnel
Demise at Dutch Harbor - June 1942
World War Two started in Alaska with the Japanese bombing attack on Dutch Harbor June 3, & 4th 1942. One of the casualties of the bombing was the venerable Alaska Steamship vessel, the S.S. Northwestern. The ship was built in 1889 for use in trade routes to Cuba. Purchased in 1905 by the Alaska Steamship Co., the steam liner transported passengers and freight between Alaskan ports and the mainland U.S. for decades.
The Northwestern ended up beached at Dutch Harbor to serve as a bunk house and power plant supporting the construction crews who were building the Naval Air Station at Dutch Harbor. She was heavily bombed and set afire by Japanese Navy Aichi D3A1 Val dive bombers on the 4th of June. Rendered unserviceable by the damage, the hull was moved to Captains Bay in preparation for towing to Seattle for salvaging. Left over the winter, the hull filled up with rainwater and sank. The bow of the ship can still be seen today protruding the surface of the bay. The wreck is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to rare photos and ephemera, a highly detailed museum grade model of the Northwestern is currently on exhibit. The finished model is nearly 42" long.
Cold War at the Whittier Army Port
The Orlando Marin Collection - 1958-59
Another new exhibit originates from the rare archive of Private Orlando Marin. He was stationed at the Whittier Army Port in 1959 and lived in the colossal Buckner Building. His Cold War service in Whittier is illustrated with photos from his personal collection supplemented by an authentic field jacket and alpaca cold weather hat of the day.
The Burning of Atka Village
The Burning of Atka Village is a new exhibit referencing the Aleutian Campaign. After the Japanese military occupied Kiska and a week after they twice bombed Dutch Harbor, the American Navy moved seaplane tenders to Atka's Nazan Bay.
The tenders supported missions by PBY Catalina flying boats whose crews flew around the clock to attack the Japanese.
After being overflown by Japanese scout planes and with indications that a Japanese task force was headed towards Atka Village the Navy evacuated the 62 native residents to the safety of a native village on Umnak.
The Exhibit includes rare photos, rare artifacts and excerpts from the USS Hulbert war diaries detailing the event.