The Klondike Highway: Dawson City To Skagway

We are beginning to have slightly shorter days as we begin the homeward arc.

In Eagle, Alaska and Dawson City, Yukon, there was only 2 hours between sunset and sunrise and the “night” was was just a bit dusky with no stars visible. In fact we have not seen stars for a month!

“The Klondike Highway links the Alaskan coastal town of Skagway to Yukon’s Dawson City. Its route somewhat parallels the route used by prospectors in the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush.

Sally and I crossing the Stewart River which flows into the Yukon a bit further south
Ray supervises as I grill pork chops at our camp at Pelly Crossing, Yukon
Sally enjoying the long dusk on the Yukon River
Emerald Lake, Yukon. The lovely colors are due to a particular kind of clay deposited in the lake bottom.
Ray photographs one of many black bear we saw on our trip. Sadly (or possibly fortunately) we never saw a grizzly

We stopped at the Tage Cho Hudan Interpretive Centre In Carmacks, YT showcasing the past and present culture of the Northern Tutchone people and viewed a traditional canoe being made.

A master carver is beginning to carve a cedar canoe in the traditional way. For this project, he has taken on a female apprentice who has recently studied canoe building and returned home. To procure a log of the required size, he needed to get a log from Prince Edward Island, all the way from Eastern Canada.

He explained that he had been an alcoholic, but after pursuing a vision quest he was told to quit alcohol and to begin building healing canoes. Chips people write name healing burnt healing ceremony Help addiction

Master and student
Old canoe carving adzes
The master carver stated that most work is completed by hand, other than initial rough shaping.
Ray and Shirley on their way into Skagway

Skagway

Skagway, in southeast Alaska, set along the popular cruise route the Inside Passage. It’s home to gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb toward Canada.

In 1896, before the Klondike gold rush had begun, a group of investors saw an opportunity for a railroad over that route. It was not until May 1898 that the White Pass and Yukon Route began laying narrow gauge railroad tracks in Skagway. 

The population of the general area increased enormously and reached 30,000, composed largely of American prospectors. Some realized how difficult the trek ahead would be en route to the gold fields, and chose to stay behind to supply goods and services to miners. Within weeks, stores, saloons, and offices lined the muddy streets of Skagway. The population was estimated at 8,000 residents during the spring of 1898 with approximately 1,000 prospective miners passing through town each week. By June 1898, with a population between 8,000 and 10,000, Skagway was the largest city in Alaska.

The prospectors’ journey began for many when they climbed the mountains over the White Pass above Skagway and onward across the Canada–US border to Bennett Lake, or one of its neighboring lakes, where they built barges and floated down the Yukon River to the gold fields around Dawson City. 

By 1899, the stream of gold-seekers had diminished and Skagway’s economy began to collapse. By 1900, when the railroad was completed, the gold rush was nearly over.

Wikipedia

These days, Skagway is home to numbers of cruise ships and other tourists. The drive in is gorgeous, but the city itself is largely one giant gift shop. However, but the ladies were quite interested on a ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route Scenic Railway, which was a quite lovely and fun way to explore the Klondiker’s route to the pass.

Skagway City: Ray and I found lovely benches

The White Pass and Yukon Route Scenic Railway: gorgeous views

Beautiful reflections near our campsites at Teslin Lake Provincial Park

Next Post: The Cassiar Highway and the best deep fried halibut in Alaska!

Author: David Willett

Worked at Agilent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard, attended University of Washington and Michigan State University, lived in the Netherlands, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, visited 36 countries and 49 U.S. states, living in Fort Collins, CO, USA

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