Off The Alaska Highway

Skagway, Alaska - Part A

June 27-29

The Alaskan Adventure - 34 Days - 4,280 Miles

Garden View Campground

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We took our first big side trip. Skagway is 110 miles from the Alaska Highway on the South Klondike Highway. If it wasn't for the smoke, the drive to Skagway would have been the most impressive to date.

Skagway is located at the end of the Lynn Canal. Since the canal was carved by a glacier it is a fiord. Just about 150 yards into the bay it quickly drops to over 1000 feet deep. Therefore, Skagway is served by many ship lines.

It was one of two major starting points for the Klondike Gold Rush. The gold was found along the Klondike river which is located over 600 miles north, near Dawson City, Yukon. The "Stampeders" had to climb over mountains in the middle of winter, carrying a years supply of food, clothes, and tools. After climbing over the mountains, they camped along a lake until spring. During that time they had to build boats, from trees they cut down, to complete their trip. The supplies (2000 pounds per person) were inspected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police before the Stampeder was allowed to proceed into the Yukon.

Over 100,000 stampeders started the trip, less than 30,000 completed it. When they finally arrived at Dawson City to stake a claim, most of the claims were already taken.

Fortunately, there are many pictures from that time which show the many stages of the trip to the Klondike.

We are at the US border.
This is the summit on the road, now it's all downhill to Skagway.

That's the white pass trail down in the valley.
Over 3000 horses died in four months due to the Stampeders overloading them and the trail being so dangerous. It is also known as Dead Horse Canyon.

The White Pass Railroad.
This narrow gauge (rails 3 feet wide) was built over the white pass trail after the peak of the gold rush. It was used to support the rush and also supplying material for the building of the Alaska Highway.

The best way to learn about the area is taking a tour.
We had a very interesting and educational time on this 1923 Streetcar.
Our driver, L.C., is one of the 300 year around residents. During the summer the population swells to 862 "summertime" residents.
All year around residents have about 3 jobs. L.C. helps the National Park System restore old buildings, makes furniture in her workshop/showroom, and drives the streetcar. She said it takes 3 jobs to save enough money to live through the winter when no tourists are around.

A view of part of the downtown area, the one runway international airport, and the harbor. There were 5 cruise ships in port today, 2 have already left. One day there were 8 cruise ships in port. Wall to wall people on the short, one main street in the downtown area!

Iris & Jeff should remember this ship.
The low clouds are hiding the top of the mountain in the background.
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