Skagway (Continued From Previous Post)
We now pick up as we leave Juneau for Skagway. The ferry time of 7am translate to a 5am check in. It was a warm and sunny day for the 6.5 hours trip.
The views on the way are breath taking.
Skagway sits in a valley and was the natural seaport for the gold miners to start their 1,500 mile land journey to the Klondike Gold Fields. Today it is the stopping off point for tour ships up to 30,000 folks on the street on any one day…today being one of those days. Back in 1898 there were over 80 saloons in town and today there are over 80 jewelry stores…
The history of Skagway is being told today by the National Park Service. The NPS theme for Skagway is similar to that of Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. The NPS has a strong presence here and has bought up part of the town to tell the story much the same as in Dawson City with the Yukon Government’s role. The two cities history link is the gold rush. Dawson City is the home for the Klondike gold and Skagway was the port of entry. In 1898 30,000 people with Gold Fever passed through the town on their way to Dawson City.
There has never been a major fire here so many of the buildings date back to founding days. They are tastefully restored and now house shops for the very large tourist trade. There are over 850,000 visitors each year by tour boat and only 15,000 visitors by ferry or land.
Where Dawson City was very safe and well protected by the Canadian Mounties Skagway was wide open. The original “bad guy” was Jeff (Soapy) Smith. A man named Frank Reid took him out in a shoot out becoming the town hero in 1898. Of course we had to visit the graves in the Miner’s Cemetery like everyone else.
The railroad played an important part in the history for Skagway. It is now a tour attraction. Back in May we signed up for the White Pass Meadows Steam Engine Tour. Highly recommend this trip…however if you are on a ship tour you get the better seats.
The photos tell the story of the journey to the Meadows and back again.
There is plenty of train history here. There are lots of places to hear the story.
Other train tour options are by the newer locomotives…
However I still like the old steam engines…
We did a side trip to Dyea, a town that no longer exists…a tour is provided by NPS. It was competing for the miner’s dollars with Skagway and played an interesting role in how Skagway developed. It is also the trail head for the infamous Chilkoot Trail used by the hordes of miners heading north. Today it is a popular three to five day hike. The views getting to Dyea were good and driving the one lane road along the cliffs kept your interest.
Is summer over? The Fireweed is done and is going to seed. This may be a sign to find a route and start heading south. Sadly tomorrow we are off to Whitehorse, YT and yes we will be leaving Alaska. The only way out of here by land is back north to the Alaskan Highway. The plan is to spend another month in Canada with the ultimate goal to experience the Canadian Rockies National Parks (Jasper, Banff, Yoho and Kootenay). We will be traveling south on the Cassiar Highway which will be another adventure all by itself. Plus there will be several side trips along the way. For those of you following the blog there will not be many more glacier pictures but you can expect more photos of the Canadian mountains.
The next post will be from Jasper in a couple of weeks.
Larry and Jan