"We must dig our heels in. The White Pass railroad must run again." With this preamble, Whitehorse businessman Rolf Hougen announced Friday in a speech to the joint Alaska-Yukon Chambers of Commerce, that he had put together a high-powered board of directors who would commit themselves to getting the White Pass and Yukon Railway back on the rails as a tourist operation - if certain conditions were met.
From the Whitehorse Star:
Mr. Hougen and the Train
Even if you're never done more than stand in awe as that old steam locomotive No. 73 came puffing into Whitehorse, you will probably roundly applaud Rolf Hougen's determination to get the White Pass and Yukon Route back on the rails. Talking to the man, and watching the fire in his eye, you have to believe that if anyone can achieve that dream, he can. Heck, anyone who could assemble the Board of Directors he has, and in less than 48 hours, could probably fuel the train himself. Hougen certainly seems to have covered the bases. He can probably expect solid support from the governments of both Alaska and the Yukon, represented by Bill Sheffield and David Joe. The presence of the President of Westours would indicate that Hougen will not have Don Primi's problem in getting commitments from the tour operators to use the train once it's running again. And the rest of the high-placed Board merely underlines Hougen's solid international status as an entrepreneur.
Yukoners know, however, that Rolf Hougen does not deal in fantasy. He is a businessman, and even if the love of history is a major piston driving his engine on this project, if his figures tell him it can't work, he won't do it. But like him, we want to believe it can work, and eagerly look forward to the day old 73 comes roaring across Second Avenue once again. May it be soon.
Whitehorse businessman Rolf Hougen (left) received the Yukoner Award Friday from Dave Philpott, executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon. The award recognizes outstanding individual efforts towards tourism in the territory. Hougen heads up a high-powered syndicate that hopes to buy the moribund White Pass and Yukon Railway and transform it into a tourist train.
On June 20th, Rick Nielsen, son of Erik and P.J. and Maureen Hougen, daughter of Rolf and Margaret were married. Following the reception Rick flew his Cessna 180 with his bride to Quiet Lake. Three days later they left on their honeymoon in Portugal.