Million Dollar Bridge and Childs Glacier


Paddling across the placid Miles Lake was slow and peaceful, sunshine warmed the rubber raft and its occupants.  With the historic Million Dollar Railway bridge in view, first as a small dot, it was fun to watch it grow larger and larger as we approached until it loomed huge overhead.  Beaching our flotilla we explored the shoreline and walked the bridge to the opposite shore.  A wooden board served as a makeshift gangplank and filled the gap at the collapsed span on the far side.  The span slipped from its foundation in 1964 during the Good Friday Earthquake.  The bridge was permanently repaired and rededicated in 2005.

A short distance from the bridge is the 300′ high vertical face of Childs Glacier.  As the glacier slowly advances huge chunks of ice calve, or break off, from the face crashing into the river creating huge waves.  During the warm summer calving is a frequent occasion, and is loud.  It sounds like the crack of lightening and the din of thunder, up very close.  As magnificent as it is to watch it is as treacherous to float past the face in a rubber raft.  The river is narrow at the glacier and there are two choices, end the trip here or take your chances and float on by.  Fortunately we were spared riding a tsunami wave, all three vessels floated past the ice wall safely.

There is a campground at Childs Glacier, reached by road 25 miles from Cordova.  I love this glacier and camping here, it is spectacular to watch and should be on the “must see” list for anyone visiting Alaska.

More tomorrow,

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist

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