Saturday, July 16

Welcome to Skagway, Alaska - Early Thursday Morning

Skagway sits at the top of the northernmost point of the inside Passage in southeast Alaska.  Over a hundred years ago, the White Pass route through the Coast Mountains was used by countless stampeders.

Skagway was known to thousands of hopeful gold rushers as the gateway to the gold fields.  In August of 1896 gold was discovered on the Klondike River. The gold rush was a boon to Skagway - by 1898 it was Alaska's largest town with a population of about 20,000.  But, when the gold yield dwindled in 1900, so did the population of Skagway.  Today Skagway has less than 1,000 residents, but it retains the flavor of the gold rush era.  

The gold rush lasted a few short years and during that time Skagway erupted into a state of chaos.  Visitors called it "hell on earth" (not my description what the legend says).  The most notorious  criminal (we would probably say crime boss)  was Soapy Smith.  Today his body rests just a few miles outside of Skagway.  He was killed in a famous shoot out/ambush on Juneau pier.  Both 'shooters' died and is now a story they tell as you are riding the White Pass train.

The excursion I chose to go on in Skagway was the White Pass Railway.  It was 27.1 miles one way just across into Canada. The White Pass fleet consists of 20 diesel-electric locomotives, restored and replica passenger coaches and 2 steam locomotives.  The oldest car was built in 1883 and is on the line each day.  One of the coaches was used in the movie "Diamond Jim Brady, and one carried Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on a royal tour in 1959. 

There is so much to tell; but I'm going to leave it at that.  The pictures will, hopefully, help to fill in more details and to give you a bit of a look at what it was like to be there.

First view of Skagway.

 As we were coming into the dock I saw these painted rocks.  I thought how strange...
 Then I saw there were bunches of painted rocks all along this mountain side.

 Maybe this is Alaskan graffiti? Or a way of advertising?  Didn't find out why.
 We are on the train now, didn't take a picture of the train coming up to the dock, should have.  This is an old train just sitting there.  Don't know why.
 There will be a lot of pictures of just scenery,  I think it can speak for it's self.  And most of the pictures were taken from inside the car, through the window, leaning over my friend.  Just saying, they are what they are.

 The next couple of pic's are taken while I'm standing outside, just had to see what that was like. 
 That's us going around the bend.

In this picture and the following one,if you were to enlarge it you would see the Skagway harbor. 

 Yep, outside again, looking down, that's what we are going over.

 Two of my friends, it was fun to share this ride with them.
 See that bridge way up there?  Yep, going over it.  I think they called it the oldest trestle bridge?  Just a note here: The White Pass & Yukon Route climbs from sea level in Skagway to almost 3,000 feet at the Summit in just 20 miles and features steep grades of almost 3.9%.  The tight curves of the WP called for a narrow gauge railroad.  The rails are 3' apart on a 10' wide road bed.  Scary but not, if that makes sense.   I'm so glad I didn't miss this ride.

 This guy was just sitting there, watching and waving as we went by.  Alaska's equivalent of standing on the corner and people watching?

 That steam/river down there was very far away.
 Going into the first of two tunnels, I don't like tunnels.
 Can you find the white mountain goat?  There was a herd of them.
 Nope, didn't go over that one.  Apparently it was built but never finished.  
 Yep, second tunnel, it was longer.
 We are now across the Canadian border.  We wait here for another train to pass and then we start our trip back down.

 The conductor had us stand up, take the back of our seats and swing it over so that we were now sitting facing the other direction from which we came, and the train had an engine on both ends, so we didn't turn around. So, we were now going backwards but not.   Should have taken a picture.  Got it?  It took us a bit to figure it out.  You can see the other train passing us.  We were suppose to wave and make faces at the other people as they passed.  Some did.
 This coach can be rented out.  It is fixed up like a cabin.  That could be fun I suppose.
 This is the cemetery where that Soapy Smith is buried and with the other guy. 
 Just some of the building in Skagway.
The front of this store is made out of twigs.

 The painted rocks were everywhere on that mountain face. I liked the watch.

 We are leaving.  Goodbye Skagway, I really enjoyed visiting here.

From Thursday evening until Saturday evening we were at sea.  Heading for Victoria, Canada.  My friends and I spent the time eating, seeing a show, eating, playing games, visiting with new friends, eating, walking around the ship and exploring, eating.....okay, you get the idea.  My next post will be small and will be my final one.  Thanks for joining me on my journey!


Barbara Kloss said...

NORMA! These are GORGEOUS!! My goodness, I want to go to Alaska. Seriously, thank you for sharing them. And those bridges! *gasps* Wow.

You were right. The scenery spoke for itself.

(I heard it saying "come and visit...come and visit...")

Jessica said...

Love it! Though not so much on the looking down between the cars thing... felt like puking... haha

Rhonda said...

Very beautiful. The train ride looked very cool.

Corinnea said...

You made me want to go to Alaska for a visit even more than I've wanted to all these years. It was fun to see things through your eyes!