Our second stop in Alaska was Skagway, where we took an early morning bus ride up to the White Pass Summit. We boarded a small motorcoach (about 20 passengers) and drove first through “downtown” Skagway. The weather was cloudy, but you can see see a snow-covered mountain straight ahead.
If you’re familiar with Skagway history, you know that it was the jumping off point for the Klondike Gold Rush circa 1896-99. Skagway was the closest port city to the gold fields, but it wasn’t remotely close. To get to the gold, prospectors had to climb over the coastal mountains to the interior. There were two trails–White Pass out of Skagway and the Chilkoot Trail out of nearby Dyea–that had to be climbed. Because the Klondike is in Canada’s Northwestern Territories, the Mounties got to make the rules. They knew a thing or two about Canadian winters, so they wouldn’t let anyone in who didn’t have six months worth of provisions. Problem was, you couldn’t haul that much stuff in one trip. It took a number of roundtrip hikes up and back down the mountain to collect enough provisions. Then, in order to get to the gold fields, the prospectors had to build rafts to float down the Klondike River. Of the 100,000 who set out, only 30,000 arrived in the Klondike. About 4,000 actually found gold. But when asked later, most people who had set out said it was the adventure of a lifetime and they would do it again! People can be so interesting. History.net has some facts about the Gold Rush.
Our bus stopped periodically for photo ops, including the pics of this spectacular suspension bridge. The scenery was beautiful, though the clouds were low and sometimes obscured the view. It was chilly up in those mountains, even in June.
A narrow gauge railroad, the White Pass & Yukon, was started in 1898 and completed in 1900. By then the fields were mostly played out. The train still operates, though, carrying tourists to the summit. If I go again, I’d like to take the train.
We crossed into Canada for a few minutes, then on the way back stopped at the border to have our photos taken.
Back in town we had time to wander and grab a bite of lunch at the Skagway Brewing Company. I ate a nice salmon salad accompanied by a glass of their delicious Spruce Tip Ale. Skagway is a very small town and it doesn’t take long to walk around. We did some shopping and I snapped a bunch of pictures. I think this is my favorite of the ports we visited. I love the Old West feel of the town.
I got a kick out of the young women from the Days of ’98 Show, dressed up like old-time saloon girls. Here we see two of them soliciting customers in an age-old fashion. A fun way to spend the summer. I’d like to see the show next time I’m in town.
We had time to pop back to the Crown Princess to drop off our packages and get ready for our afternoon excursion to the Musher’s Camp. Check back next time for a report on our sled dog adventure.