Title Skagway

 

Through the night, we moved away from Glacier Bay, cruised down Icy Strait and turned up the Lynn Canal, the longest fjord in North America. The end of this 90 mile fjord lies Skagway. Those who have read Jack London's, "Call of the Wild," or other stories of the Alaskan gold rush, will remember how important Skagway was as a conduit to the Yukon River and the dream of gold. Skagway provided two treacherous passages over either the Chilkoot Pass or the White Pass, the top of each pass lying on the Canadian border. Skagway, then, was a teeming tent city filled with hawkers and charlatans, who either sold supplies at exorbitant prices, or used schemes and even force to relieve the prospective gold miners of their outfitting funds.

Today, Skagway, in the summer months, thrives on nearly one million tourists who visit, mostly on cruise ships, anxious to connect with that fascinating story of the gold rush. While many still leave their money in Skagway, they do so willingly, and it is taken largely by college students who live in dormitories and work in Skagway during the busy tourist season. By the end of September, the population of Skagway is about 900 people, and it settles in for a long winter. Actually, Skagway itself gets far more rain than snow, but up on the White Pass it can be 40 feet deep.

 

Tug in Skagway

A tug keeps busy in Skagway, escorting the many passenger and commercial ships and barges which come in through the summer.

 

Freight Barge

The only road into Skagway comes over the White Pass from Canada, and it's closed all winter. Most supplies in coastal Alaska come by barge.

 

Coming down the gangplank in Skagway.

Pat and Rob make their way down the gangplank in Skagway.

 

White Pass Railroad

The White Pass Railroad was built very early in Skagway's history, in 1897, just three years after the start of the gold rush. However, by the time it was finished, the gold rush had moved on to Nome, Alaska. This narrow gauge railroad still operates and is considered one of the 10 World Rail journeys. It winds up the White Pass, crossing over dazzling bridges, and emerging through the tunnel into Canada one can be surrounded by snow standing higher than the train cars.

 

Train Snowblower

This train engine snow blower is a landmark of Skagway.

 

Visitor Center

The National Park Service operates a visitor center, complete with auditorium presentations about the gold rush and guided tours of Skagway's historical places.

 

History Map of the gold rush.

A Park Ranger starts her tour with the map depicting the White Pass in the valley to the right, and the Chilkoot Pass in the valley to the left.

 

Miner's required outfit for the gold rush.

When the gold miners crossed into Canada over one of the passes, the Canadian Mounties required one ton of supplies to ensure their ability to last at least one year.

 

Jeff Smith's Business

Jeff (Soapy) Smith was a gangster and crime boss who stole the seed money from many a miner. His Parlor stands as a museum.

 

Original Cabin of Skagway.

In 1887, a surveyor, William Moore, recognized that Skagway would make a good port for accessing the interior of Canada, and laid claim to 160 acres. He built a cabin, which was the only building there at the start of the gold rush. His claim was ignored by the hoard of miners, and only much later did he sue to get his property back.

 

Tony hiking

Easily accessible to the port are the mountains to the east and the Dewey Lake trail system. The hike to Dewy Lake is a steady climb, but is not long. It offers good views of the ships and the town of Skagway. Tony lends perspective to this photo of the Amsterdam.

Dewey Lake

Tony captures a picture of Dewey Lake.

 

 

Dorothy at Dewey Lake

Dorothy enjoys a view across Dewey Lake.

 

Dorothy and Ed on the hike

Finishing up the Dewey Lake Hike.

 

Dorothy and Ed return to the Amsterdam after a day in Skagway.