Great Alaskan and Canadian Railroad Journeys S01E01 Ninilchik to Spencer Whistlestop (1280x720p HD, 50fps, soft Eng subs)
Michael Portillo heads for the Last Frontier of the United States armed with his 1899 Appleton's Guide-Book to Alaska. Written by an intrepid 19th-century female explorer, the book points Michael to 'sublime scenery' in the 49th state and fresh insight into the newly explored lives and customs of its inhabitants.
Beginning his journey amid the snow-capped mountains and ice-cold inlets of the Kenai Peninsula, Michael finds the golden onion domes of a Russian Orthodox church along with traditional Russian food and costume and discovers that, 150 years ago, Alaska was a Russian colony.
In Seward, Michael feeds a rescued sea otter pup with a fearsome bite and learns how the luxurious pelts of these endearing creatures were once the most valuable in the world. On a boat trip around Seward Harbour, Michael hears from an indigenous former Alaskan state senator how, shortly before his guidebook was published, the Russian Empire sold Alaska to the United States and he learns of the brutality of Russian fur traders towards Native Alaskans. Heading north on the Alaska Railroad past lakes and glaciers and through mountain tunnels, Michael learns from an enthusiast what it took to build this epic 470-mile line. He is intrigued by reference in his Appleton's over a century ago to climate change and the retreat of glaciers. He joins the Glacier Discovery rail service to Spencer Whistlestop to investigate the iceberg maze at the snout of the Spencer glacier aboard a rubber raft.
First broadcast: 7 January 2019 Duration: 30 minutes
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