Great Alaskan and Canadian Railroad Journeys S01E02 (1280x720p HD, 50fps, soft Eng subs)
Steered by his Appleton's Guidebook to Alaska, Michael Portillo is in Anchorage preparing to join the US Arctic Warriors for parachute training at joint forces base Elmendorf-Richardson. The historic role of the military in Alaska since its purchase from Russia in 1867 underlines to him the strategic importance of the 49th state in two World Wars and how that continues today.
A magical encounter with the cabbage fairies in Palmer teaches Michael a thing or two about growing vegetables close to the Arctic Circle. 19 hours of daylight and a quarter of an inch of new soil every year leads to 127-pound cabbages and the sweetest tomatoes he has ever tasted. Child's play, according to six-year-old gardener Daisy.
In an underground sod house built from driftwood and whalebone, Michael hears how the language and traditions of indigenous people in Alaska were suppressed by the United States. After a plate of smoked and dried fish with his indigenous host, he heads for the gym at the Alaska Native Heritage Centre, where athletes train to compete in extraordinary sports at the annual World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. Michael's chosen event is the Eskimo stick pull. Keeping the Alaska Railroad running is not for the faint-hearted. Michael joins the maintenance team on a 30-foot snow-spreader, which keeps the tracks clear in winter.
First broadcast: 8 January 2019 Duration: 30 minutes
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