Thursday, August 25, 2016

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is a borough in southeast Alaska that sits at an elevation of 0 ft.  in a narrow valley at the north end of the Lynn Canal.  It is 145 km (90 miles) northwest of Alaska’s capital city Juneau, in the Alaska panhandle.

Skagway, Alaska, the Garden City
Skagway has been called the Garden City since very early days.  The long summer days allowed gardens to grow large vegetables and beautiful flowers, hence the name.  The first competition for those beautiful gardens was held in 1902.

Camp Skagway No. 1
Camp Skagway No. 1 was established as a brotherhood hall in 1899 when many men arrived by steamers for the Klondike Gold Rush.  There would eventually be a total of thirty camps or brotherhood halls created with 10,000 members during that busy historic time.  What makes this building look so unusual, there are almost 9,000 small pieces of driftwood on the fa├žade.

Preserved buildings of Skagway, Alaska
The many Gold Rush era buildings have been restored and preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.  Tourism supports this borough and there are several jewellery and gift shops to visit.

Cruise ships visit Skagway
The cruise ships travel up the Inside Passage and bring about 900,000 visitors a year to see the sights of Alaska that includes making a stop in Skagway.  There were 4 cruise ships docked during our walk downtown but I wasn’t able to get one photo with all of them in it.

Downtown Skagway, Alaska
The convenient location of where the cruise ships dock makes it very easy for the passengers to visit the shops.  Although the streets look fairly quiet, there were thousands of visitors there.  Tourism attracts about a million visitors a year, mainly during summer months, and the majority of these visitors come by one of the eight different cruise ship lines that visit Skagway.  Among those thousands of cruise ship visitors, we did see a couple we recognized as teachers from our hometown of Kamloops, B.C.; small world, isn’t it?

Old rail cars of White Pass
The population of this borough of approximately 1,000 people estimated in 2015 explodes at the seams on any given summer day when the cruise ships stop in.  This number doubles with seasonal workers when the tourist season happens but it would more than double that if only one ship stopped.  When there are four of them…. can’t imagine how many tourists were in this town at the time of our visit.

Skagway Alaska Street Car Tour
We did not take a tour with the Streetcar Tour on this 1927 bus but their tours sound great and well worth taking if the time allows.  We didn’t plan for this and bookings are surely done far ahead of time with the busy traffic they get in Skagway.

Red Onion Saloon
Our afternoon spent in Skagway included a walk around the town site to see what there was to see.  A stop for a nice cold refreshing afternoon drink was at the Red Onion which included waiting in line on this busy day.  The authentic looking saloon, just like it was in 1898, adds to the appeal which can also include a tour of the bordello museum upstairs.  We passed on that, also.

Station for White Pass-Yukon Route
This site is where we will return to in the morning to go for a train ride through the great White Pass-Yukon Route.  We had booked ahead of time and are hoping that our weather includes sunny skies once again.


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