Population: Skagway has 1,106 residents according to a mid-decade estimate from the state of Alaska (up from 920 in 2010 census), although it generally fluctuates from about 700 in January to more than 2,500 in July with the influx of summer workers. The largest minority, about 4% of our residents, are Native Alaskans of mostly Tlingit origin.
Government: Skagway was the first incorporated city in Alaska on June 28, 1900, and remained that way until June 5, 2008, when we voted to become the state’s initial first class borough, the Municipality of Skagway. We elect a mayor, six assembly members, and five to the school board. The borough collects property tax (7+ mills), 5% sales tax (3% winter), and an 8% room tax.
School: Skagway School has an enrollment of about 100 students in grades K-12. Test scores averaged the highest of any in Alaska last year. Mascot: Panthers.
Land/Elevation/Power: Skagway is in a classic U-shaped glacial valley that is slowly “rebounding” by 1-2 inches a year. Elevation ranges from sea level on the coast to peaks reaching nearly 7,000 feet. The municipality stretches from the Canada border to the Haines Borough, encompassing 452.4 sq. miles of land and 11.9 sq. miles of water. Our power comes from three nearby AP&T hydroelectric facilities.
Climate: Average summer temperatures range from 45 to 67 F, although we’ve seen it get into the 90s. On the summer solstice we see nearly 19 hours of daylight. Average winter temps are 18 to 37 F, but occasionally it will dip below zero. With a north wind, it can feel like 50-below. We get just 26 inches of rain a year and 39 inches of snow in town, although more than 20 feet can fall on White Pass each winter.
Summer Visitation: In 2015 we saw 1,243,384 visitors, the bulk of which – 1,106,634 passengers and crew – arrived on cruise ships. Our peak year was 2007 with 1.278 million visitors. Numbers are supposed to be about the same in 2016.
Economy/Values: Median household income, according to a 2010 survey, was $73,083, with average per capita income of $36,342. About 8.8% live below poverty level. Largest employers are the visitor and transportation industries and government. Our largely seasonal economy gives us the distinction of having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state in summer (2-3%) and one of the highest in winter (22-27%). Skagway is actively marketing its year-round port to attract more shippers from Yukon mines and boost winter employment. A copper mine currently uses the port.
The Basics: In mid-April, the price of unleaded gas was between $2.75 and $3.00 a gallon, milk was about $7.00 a gallon, and houses were listing between $99,000 and $370,000, but The Skagway News, which compiled all this information, was still hanging in there at six bits a copy.