Friday, June 3, 2011

A Laid-back Day in Valdez

Today it rained on and off, so it gave us a chance to sleep in a little and leisurely get ready to explore Valdez. We visited the Valdez Museum, in two locations with the second one focusing on the original site of the town.

Outside the main museum is this scraper pig.


Scraper pigs are used to remove wax deposits inside the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Wax is a natural component of crude oil, and it collects on the walls of the pipe, reducing the oil flow.


The pig travels along with the oil at about 6 mph, and is removed at a pump station. There are also “smart pigs” that not only remove wax from the pipes but also collect information about the inside of the pipes, such as deformities and corrosion.

Here are a few items displayed inside the museum: 1907 Ahrens steam fire engine.


1866 Gleason & Bailey handpumped fire engine.


Washing machines.



This bar was manufactured in Chicago in the late 1880s and brought to the Pacific Coast around the tip of South America and used in the Seattle area before being brought to Valdez. There were two sections, making the bar 40 feet long.


Rock-Ola Jukebox, 1936, which played 78 RPM records from the late 1920s.


Diamond Willow, a collector’s item because of its size and the number of diamonds, found near Fairbanks.


The other location of the museum is near the ferry dock, and is called “Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit.” Old Valdez was located 4 miles away from the current site, closer to the route north toward the Klondike where hopeful stampeders traversed, hoping to find gold. An excellent 30-minute movie tells the story of how the 1964 Alaska earthquake and resulting tsunami killed 32 people in Valdez and literally destroyed the town. A scale model of the original town was carefully created by a local woman and is on display here, in a series of glass cases. I wasn’t able to get any good pictures due to reflections on the glass. Survivors realized that the ground beneath the town would always be subject to liquefaction whenever earthquakes occurred, and decided to reconstruct the town in a better location, on bedrock.

One display in this museum was a little troublesome.


When I was a teenager, I had a dress very similar to this one, and I graduated from high school in 1964. This letterman’s jacket is from 1965, and isn’t that different from the one my boyfriend let me wear. That wasn’t that long ago, at least in my mind! I can’t possibly be old enough to have worn clothes like the ones displayed in a museum!


  1. I graduated in 64 too! Yes it was a long time ago.

  2. We are greatly enjoying all of
    your pictures as well as the
    interesting commentary. Good job!
    It's nice to view your group and
    see what your living in as you
    travel the many miles. Plus we
    are able to follow our sister
    Pat. Thanks, keep up the good
    blogging, we like it!
    Ron and Linda

  3. Hi, Thank you for the picture of the pipeline pig. I met a man who had invented one of the smart pigs and I always wondered what they looked like. Cool!!! And yes, the dress and letterman's jacket must have been a fluke being in the museum. They were from a few years ago, not a long time ago, smile!

  4. Jerry graduated in 1956, and Suzy in 1960, so you see we are almost as young as you guys. We absolutely come unglued when we visit a museum and see things like the typewriter Suzy used on the job, or the Kodak Instamtic camera we used when our kids were little, kitchen tools and appliances that must have been stolen from one of our homes.

    Tell us more about that diamond willow! Do diamonds grow on trees now?

  5. I remember my mother having a wringer washer when I was little. I think it was a little newer than those, though.

  6. Really had to chuckle at the line 'one display at the museum was troublesome.' Great writing, Sharon! And yes, Chuck's letter jacker looked very similar. Enjoying your Blog, J&C


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