Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hot In Alaska, Pt 3: Skagway & The Historic Route To The Yukon In Northwest Canada

CRUISE SHIPS still need old-fashioned brawn, a firm grip and low-tech ropes to secure huge modern vessels to relatively small piers in Skagway.

It was a fascinating process to watch but not as spectacular as the road ahead with The Skagway City and White Pass Summit Tour adjacent to the train route that was popular during the late 1800s. Prospectors first braved a very rugged trail hoping to find gold in the basin of the Klondike River in Canada's Yukon.

It took a whole lot of muscle and bravery to blast a road through inhospitable terrain over terrifying heights. During our visit, except for the heritage train loaded with tourists and the tour buses, there was very little traffic along the track or highway outside Skagway. Although fog and snow will eventually blanket the view, in summer it is a scene of endless evergreens.

The weather had been particularly dry this season but we did see, and drink from, a waterfall bouncing down the boulders.

Ancient mossy patterns bubbled quietly behind the curtain of rushing water.

Our tour guide said “lift your feet” as we jumped the invisible border from the US into Canada and back again. It took more than 80 years of stops and starts to properly complete the Klondike Highway that somewhat follows that original trail from Skagway in Alaska through to the Yukon.

We drove over the Captain William Moore Bridge that was constructed about 40 years ago with just one anchored end. It was built to be flexible because there is an earthquake fault line beneath the gorge some 110-feet below.

Back in Skagway there were the usual shops filled with trinkets and jewelry. There were several churches and a pastor who, we were told, was also the sheriff. He would have been as amused as we all were at the antics of the young lady (pictured below) enticing tourists to see a show about a colourful character named Soapy Smith who reigned in Skagway during the gold rush.


We opted for the museum where there were lots of interesting things to see.

I admired the craftiness of the heritage trunk. Its fa├žade of driftwood reminded me of Camp No. 1 (pictured below) in Skagway built for the Arctic Brotherhood.

When miners came to town, the Brotherhood supported those who were members in various ways as they prepared for the arduous journey over the Chilkoot Pass to the Klondike gold fields.

The contraption (below) is an early snow plow designed to set in front of a train engine to clear the tracks. Impressive ... but out of commission nowadays.

Skagway was originally spelled Skagua (meaning windy place) by the Tlingit who were the first people to cut through the rocky, forested terrain. Although we experienced only a warm breeze, there is a cold wind that blows and about 260 inches of snow annually that might be welcomed by the population.

With almost one-million visitors yearly, I am guessing the some one-thousand souls, including the pastor/sheriff, who live in Skagway breathe a huge sigh of relief when flakes fall and cruise ships stop coming after September.

Up next: Glacier Bay and scenic cruising.

Links to each of my Hot In Alaska cruise posts are as follows:
Pt 1: Setting Off From Vancouver
Pt 2: Settling Into The Noordam, Melting In Juneau
Pt 3: Skagway & The Historic Route To The Yukon
Pt 4: Margerie Glacier Interlude
Pt 5: Picturesque Ketchikan
Pt 6: Sunrise To Remember
Pt 7: Service With A Smile

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

15 comments:

  1. Skagway looks like an interesting place to visit. I like that unusual building with the logs facade.

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  2. Sounds a great tour. Loved the views

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  3. Awesome photos of your Alaksa trip! I would love to drive on that highway! Cool tour! Have a happy new week ahead!

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  4. In late Spring of this year I read Alaska by James Michener so I'm loving your photos!

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  5. Great tour, love to visit those places

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  6. Wow! What an adventure you are having and taking beautiful photographs!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

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  7. Fabulous shots of your adventure. We have a similar old train with a snowblower on display here in Breckenridge. It looks busy there.

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  8. Lovely photos and story from Alaska!

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  9. Nice reportage over a part of the world you don't hear to much. I like it.

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  10. Very nice series!
    Hope you'll stop by this week's linkup:
    http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/07/variations.html

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  11. Spectacular series of photos. Looks like you had a wonderful time!

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  12. Oh I am SO SO glad you took that rail journey, I was hoping that was what you did . We loved it... Skagway was our least favorite town for camping in the whole state, but we absolutely loved the rail journey! Which was why we were there really. There were several cruise passengers on our train, which we arranged independently of course and some of the cruise passengers said it was cheaper to do it on their own than thru the cruise. But they did have to worry about getting back on time.

    Did you eat lunch at that one logging camp?

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  13. Oh, Sallie, I am sorry to tell you that we did not take the rail journey but rather the coach tour on the adjacent route along the highway. We also did stop several times to explore the local terrain and enjoyed wonderful commentary from our very entertaining guide. If we ever go again, however, it will definitely be by train now that I see what a great experience it was for you!

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  14. The facades of the heritage trunk (loved the heart shape) and the AB building seemed to celebrate the importance of trees, with their common themes of driftwood and logs. Your post made me so curious about the Arctic Brotherhood that I did a little bit of research. I learned that it was revived in 2005 and I also discovered this blog (http://arcticbrotherhood.blogspot.ca/) with some fascinating information. Thanks, Penelope. I guess this is my way of tagging along on your trip :)

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