On July 15, 1923, President Warren G. Harding tapped a golden spike and officially completed the Alaska Railroad. Since completion, the Railroad has played a central role in Alaska's growth -- providing a means for communities to settle and flourish along the railbelt, supplying the Fairbanks gold fields, helping to build the Alaska Highway, supporting the war effort and hauling pipe and supplies for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
Today, the Alaska Railroad continues its tradition of support for the Alaska community. We are a powerful economic engine hauling about 6 million tons of freight per year. We transport building products to construct Alaska homes and businesses and support critical resource industries such as coal, oil and gas. Our trains carry more than 400,000 travelers annually, providing access for Alaskans and visitors from tidewater in Seward and Whittier to the interior of Alaska. In addition, our operation creates jobs for Alaskans employing over 600 people.
As a good neighbor, the Railroad supports various organizations, communities and charitable fund events along the railbelt through in-kind and cash donations.
We are a charter sponsor for developing School Business Partnerships. Railroad employees are active members in many civic and business organizations to promote corporate and community partnerships.
Spending by the Alaska Railroad Corporation supports nearly 1,900 Alaskan jobs and pumps over $83 million in payroll into the state annually, according to a 2004 report released by the University of Alaska's Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).
And finally, the Railroad works to improve the quality of life for residents along the railbelt by leasing land to communities at less than fair market value for parks, bike trails and other public interest uses.