A new train car is hooked to a massive crane in preparation for placement on Whistle Hill in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A new train car is hooked to a massive crane in preparation for placement on Whistle Hill in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Whistle Hill adds 5th rail car in effort to expand as tourist ‘destination’

“The only thing I’m missing is a caboose.”

A fifth rail car was added to Whistle Hill on Saturday, part of the continuing expansion of the project by the Krull family, who own and operate a variety of businesses at what they are developing as “a destination,” according to Mary Krull.

Krull said the new rail car is a retired unit from the Alaska Railroad, a rail diesel car built in 1953. When it was in operation, it was self-propelled, and could be run either independently or be pulled by a locomotive.

“It was retired by the Alaska Railroad, I think officially, in 2012. They just kept it in their yard for training purposes,” Krull said. “We have a propensity to buy rail cars, and heard that it might be up for sale.”

It was, and so the Krulls brought it home.

Krull said it was a three-day process to move the rail car. She said Weaver Brothers moved it to Whistle Hill. They were originally skeptical whether or not they could make the turns up to the site in their trucks while carrying the large cargo. A driver came with a truck and an empty trailer ahead of the move to practice.

On Saturday, from as far away as the Kenai Spur Highway and Sterling Highway intersection in Soldotna, a massive crane could be seen rising over Whistle Hill. Shortly after noon, the stainless steel rail car was hooked up and moved into place, on a set of tracks behind the building that holds Frames N Things and Brew@602.

“Honestly, this is the first rail car we’ve purchased and added to our development that we don’t have a plan for yet,” Krull said. “She will hibernate over the winter time, then come spring we’ll entertain some ideas we’ve been kicking around and see what we can make of her.”

The rail car joins those built into Brew@602 and Addie Camp, as well as a boxcar and a locomotive also featured on the property.

“The only thing I’m missing is a caboose.”

Development on Whistle Hill won’t stop anytime soon. Krull said that they’re working with the city to extend the sewer line up to the property, and that two more hydroponic farms have been purchased to expand Fresh 365, which produces “a variety of greens, lettuces and herbs,” according to their website.

The Soldotna City Council voted in September to assist in funding expansion of the sewer line, following a proposal by the Krulls submitted in March.

Next summer, the boxcar located adjacent to Addie Camp will be renovated into a guest suite, which Krull said will be put on Airbnb.

Another recent addition is an array of solar panels, installed earlier this summer, which Krull said were only the first of a three-phase expansion.

“We’re pretty committed to renewable energy,” she said. “This first array, the intent is for it to power our current hydroponic farm. There is room for phase two and three; ultimately our goal is to power the entire hill through solar.”

Krull said that Whistle Hill is intended to be a destination.

“Our goal is to provide our community with year-round businesses, to serve our community and certainly to add value to tourism,” she said. “The whole thing started with me trying to repurpose a rail car.”

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read