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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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July 31, 2001 Souvenir Album:

Orca; Cordova; Valdez


Images | Video (click images for larger view)

Orca goats

The tiny village of Orca, site of a fish cannery, played a critical role during the 1899 Harriman Alaska Expedition. After the George W. Elder broke one of its iron propellers exploring Harriman Fjord, the ship returned to Orca, where repairs were made. The cannery thrived for many years, backed by its own fishing fleet, but eventually went under. Now about the only activity on the grounds are the wanderings of these goats. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Old stove

Without the cannery, current residents of Orca are working to turn the grounds into a bed and breakfast establishment. Taking advantage of the magnificent location on the shores of Prince William Sound, the site has some other attractions, such as this massive iron stove. A plate on the side identifies it as an "Alaska" model, made by the Washington Stove Works in Everett, Washington, on the unusual date of "2-30-98." (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Cordova harbor

Cordova, a lively town not too far from Orca, is a major Alaskan fishing port. The harbor was packed when we arrived; virtually all the fishing boats were tied up due to a strike. Cordova is also the home of the Prince William Sound Science Center and the Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Valdez terminal

Everyone in Alaska has an opinion about the oil industry and oil drilling, and nowhere are the opinions stronger than in Valdez Arm, a wide fjord off Prince William Sound. You soon see why: cut into the Chugach Mountains on the north side of the fjord is the massive Trans Alaska Pipeline Marine Terminal at Valdez. Compared to the mountains, the huge terminal is tiny, but the terminal represents money and power. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Ballast tanks

If you want to visit the Marine Terminal, you must first go through airport-style security, with all personal items screened by scanners. You then are loaded onto buses, and the buses, while they take you through much of the terminal, never get very close to anything. About the closes approach to any facility is this ballast cleaning tank, where tanker bilge and ballast water is pumped ashore and separated from oil. (Photo by Jonas K. Parker).

Berth 1

Tours of the Marine Terminal put an emphasis on the marvelous technology of the place, such as Berth #1. In order to cope with the massive tides in Valdez, the entire berth is mounted on floats, and rises and falls with the tide. The tower on the berth is used for directing all loading operations; it takes about twelve to eighteen hours to fill a tanker. (Photo by Megan Litwin).

Cleaning pig

From Prudoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Valdez, the Trans Alaska Pipeline (almost universally called "tap") travels slightly over 800 miles, and it requires regular maintenance. Jonas Parker, a Harriman Retraced student from Sitka, stands next to a "pig," a rubbery plug that is pushed by the oil through the pipeline and scrapes deposits from the inner surface. (Photo by Layton J. Lockett).

speed limit

The Marine Terminal complex has nicely paved roads -- and peculiar speed limit signs. All the speeds are marked with peculiar values: 11, 16, 21, 26, 29 miles per hour. The odd signs are part of the terminal's safety program, operating on the theory that the unusual number will force drivers to pay more attention to the speed limits. The tour guides seemed evenly split on the program's effectiveness. (Photo by Megan Litwin).

Oil tanks

These giant tanks, collectively, can hold the entire contents of the 800 mile long Trans Alaska Pipeline on any given day. Around the base of each tank is a concrete pen, designed to trap any oil that might leak out of a tank if it were to rupture. The tour operators emphasized the safety and environmental engineering built into the complex, occasionally suggesting it was overkill -- and at no time ever mentioned the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 24, 1989. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Grain elevators

When the expedition ship pulled into Valdez, it docked at a place the locals called "Fantasy Island," featuring these oddly out of place grain silos. Apparently a group had an idea that the area should try to diversify the economy and export barley. The grain silos were built to hold the barley, and only afterward was it determined that barley couldn't be grown commercially in the cold, wet, overcast environment, especially with the short summer growing season. Hence the name "Fantasy Island." (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).


Video

Cordova harbor

Panoramic clip of Cordova's harbor. The clip starts with a view towards the town, and ends looking toward the blue roof of the Prince William Sound Science Center. What appears to be smoke is actually a low cloud cover; it was raining while the clip was shot. (QuickTime format, 320 x 240 pixels, 14 seconds, 2.2 megabytes. RealVideo alternative.) (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA)

Valdez terminal

Panoramic clip of the Trans Alaska Pipeline Marine Terminal, taken from a viewpoint on the mountain side behind the terminal. The clip moves from a supertanker loading at one berth, past the power plant with its tall stack, past the floating Berth #1, and ends at one of the tank farms. The audio contains random conversations by expedition members. (QuickTime format, 320 x 240 pixels, 16 seconds, 2.5 megabytes. RealVideo alternative.) (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA)


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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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