Getting to this remote town isn't easy. You can get their by sea or take a long, one-lane tunnel through the mountains, which at any given time only runs one way.
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel—the longest (2.5 miles) highway tunnel in North America, and the first designed for -40 Fahrenheit temperatures and 150 mph winds! This unique design enables a single lane of traffic to travel directly over the railroad track. The one-lane tunnel must be shared by cars and trains traveling in both directions, and it usually needs to be aired out in between trips (with jet turbine ventilation, another first!). So there's a schedule for even getting into this town! Plus, at night, they close the tunnel completely!
When you enter the town don't expect to see a small huddle of houses. Instead, on the edge of town, there stands a 14-story building called Begich Towers — resembling an aging hotel. Almost all of the tiny town's 200 residents live in this one building and hardly ever have to go outside. It was built in 1956 and used to be an army barracks. Residents can stay indoors and avoid the town's extreme weather because the building has, literally, everything. There's a post office, police station, laundromat, convenience store, health clinic, and even a video rental store. Also on the grounds is the mayor's office, a church in the basement, and a bed and breakfast on the top two floors. The school is actually behind the tower, but is still connected by an underground tunnel so again, kids can avoid the outside world too. It might seem extreme, but with winds up to 60 mph and 250 inches of snow annually, the all-in-one style building sounds appropriate. It is a very unique town to say the least.
Although I can honestly say that I would not want to live here, a bit claustrophobic for me, it is a beautiful place to spend the day. The mountains, the glaciers, and the beautiful water is absolutely worth seeing. There's a lot to do here too, from kayaking or canoeing to the glaciers, fishing charters, nature and wildlife tours or just visiting the museum to get a true sense of the town. Just visiting the small shops and eating at the local Chinese restaurant and then sitting by the water watching all the jellyfish go by is fun too. You could easily spend hours here, we did!