The United States built, owned and operated the Alaska Railroad from 1914 until 1985. The railroad was established by Congress on March 12, 1914 to facilitate economic development and access to mineral deposits in the Territory of Alaska. Construction began shortly thereafter and was completed in 1923 when President Harding drove the final spike near Nenana. The railroad was part of the Department of the Interior until the creation of the Department of Transportation at which time the railroad became part of the Federal Railroad Administration.
On January 5, 1985, pursuant to authority delegated by the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982, (45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.), FRA transferred the federal government's interest in the Alaska Railroad to the Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC), a public corporation of the state of Alaska chartered to own and operate the Alaska Railroad. The state paid the United States the fair market value of the operating railroad.
The ARRC provides freight and passenger service from the ice-free ports of Whittier, Seward and Anchorage to Fairbanks as well as Denali National Park and military installations. It is the northernmost railroad in North America. Vessel and rail barge connections are provided from Seattle, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
For information about FRA funding, see our Alaska Railroad funding page.