Tuesday, September 2, 2008


6:o4 am, we arrive in Skagway. 14 C and overcast with showers. 94 miles from Juneau.

Skagway still retains the 19th century look, when it swelled with hopeful prospectors to become Alaska's most populous town A year round town with a population of 863. However, in 1897 when prompted by the cry "GOLD IN THE YUKON", thousands gathered supplies and rested in Skagway before embarking the difficult ascent up the Chilkook and White Passes and Klondike gold fields beyond. The population grew to 10,000. the hopeful newcomers faced temptation back then with 80 saloons, houses of "negotiable affection" and other last chance of civilization and also plenty of sly thieves. This was one of the most colourful periods of Alaskian history, that of a lawless frontier town, controlled by the villainous 'Soapy' Smith, who was finally removed from power in a gunfight with the town hero, Frank Reid. At the height of the gold rush, Michael J. Moore, an Irish contractor, convinced a group of English investors that he could build a railway over the White Pass Trail to Whitehorse. The construction of the White Pass & Yukon Route was nothing short of a superhuman feat and the railroad became the focal point of the town's economy after the gold rush and during the military buildup of WWII. The line was shut down in 1982, but was revived in 1988 to the delight of cruise ship tourist and the backpackers walking the Chilkook Trail. Although the train hauls no freight, it's rebirth was important to Skagway as a tourist attraction. Today Skagway survives almost entirely on tourism, as bus tours and more the 400 cruise ships a year turn this village into a boomtown again every summer. Up to 5 ships a day stop here and on the busiest days over 8,000 tourists - 10 times the town's resident population! March off the ships and this little Broadway turns into an ant hill. It's the modern day version of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the fact that one gift ship is called the "Alaska Fleece Company", probably has Soapy Smith smiling in his grave.

I really liked everything about this little town and so after having breakfast, we left for an excursion on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. It's a great fun ride up higher into Alaska, but the higher we got the foggier it became and harder to see what the conductor was pointing out to us. Some places we only got glimses of, others found us looking down way down into gullies and rivers and some sights that made our hearts make loud thumps in our chest. Very scary at the wooden trestles we were going over. It was a really neat old train, with even a stove inside to keep the passengers warm, hard bench seats and just a whole lot of fun.
It was a 4 hour trip taking us across Glacier Gorge, Bridal Falls, Dead Horse Gulch, all the time climbing 2885 ft.


I've included this link (above) of a video of the same trip. Only it being August we had no snow. The first part as we are leaving, the little creek on the left was teaming with salmon. Later you see the cemetary where Soapy Smith and Harris are buried. Looks very old and spooky. Later you see a cross stuck in a rock which is a bit blurry, but that rock fell of some miners, and rather then try to get them out, they just placed a cross on top for a memorial to all the workers that lost their lives building the railway. There is Dead Horse Gulch, where the miners brought horses, but had no idea how to look after them or feed them, so they would die, and into Dead Horse Gulch they would go.

Here's a few pictures we took.

That's it for today, we set sail at 9:12 pm and tomorrow, the beautiful Glacier Bay!!!!!

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West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment! In love with a wonderful husband!! A Capreol Girl from 1959-1975, Belleville 1975-1985


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