No, we’re not talking about Whittier, California. This special spot is Whittier, Alaska. This is the remote, small town ensconced about 58 miles southeast of the city of Anchorage. Incorporated in 1969, it’s now known to some as the “town under one roof.”
A port for the official Alaska Marine Highway, Whittier is technically accessible by ferry, but the only other way to get there is via a two-and-a-half-mile-long, single lane Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Also known as the Whittier Tunnel, It’s only 16 feet wide so while it’s rarely if ever crowded the traffic flows in one direction with that direction changing every half hour.
Travelers must wait patiently for lights to signal the right of way. Chosen and constructed in 1943, and originally designed for trains, it was used to transport supplies from the deep-water base of Whittier to Bear Valley. More than six decades later, this pathway through Maynard Mountain remains the longest highway tunnel on the entire continent.
In the late 1960s, the federal government turned the little inlet over to the locals. Residents thought the lengthy, lonely entrance was in sore need of a makeover. They gave it a fresh, new coat of concrete and made the steel rails even with the road to allow both motor vehicles and trains to use the tunnel.
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