Leigh Armstrong 

If you had an hour to escape from a room full of puzzles, secrets and tricks, could you do it? That’s the question that will be asked when Skagway Alaska Escapes opens April 19 at 777 Alaska St.

Escape rooms are a trend that have hit around the world. Players enter a room and are shut in, tasked with solving a series of puzzles that will help them find a key to exit. Becky McGill sought to bring the concept to Skagway with a historic twist.

Rather than using a normal room, Skagway Alaska Escape confines players to an railroad boxcar and gives them the task of finding the itinerary of a woman who went missing in Alaska. 

McGill came up with the idea of starting an escape room a couple years ago, after playing one in Dawson, Yukon Territory, on a work retreat.

“(The escape room) helped me see where my employees’ strengths and weaknesses were,” McGill said. 

After the visit, McGill set about creating the experience for locals and tourists in Skagway. 

Many escape rooms are set under the guise of a solving a murder and have an element of horror to them. McGill wanted to avoid making the experience scary and looked to her own family history to craft the story of the 1925-era escape room. Using her mother’s travel journal as inspiration she created the story of missing woman, with players tasked to find her.

The puzzles accompanying the story were created by McGill’s daughter Kate and her friend Abby Myers and were crafted to flow with the story that the escape room seeks to tell.

In the early days of creating the room, there were some unintended scares for the Beyond Skagway Tours employees who helped test the puzzles in the room. Initially, McGill utilized old-style lanterns with new electric bulbs for her test players. When she checked in on the players, she found the lights didn’t help enough and it was near pitch dark in the room. 

Players won’t have to worry about that when they visit the escape room. After that darkened moment, McGill installed glass lanterns with modern wiring to ensure guests can get a good look at the puzzles and antique furnishings adorning the boxcar. 

While some of the items in the boxcar came off of eBay, a lot of the pieces of furniture and decorations came from Skagway residents and are actual historical items.

The furnishing aren’t the only antiques in the room. The boxcar is an older White Pass car that the railroad bought from the U.S. Army after World War II.

Skagway Alaska Escape will have a free peek April 20-21 12-4 p.m., where people can catch a glimpse inside the boxcar and enjoy refreshments.

To book the full experience outside the free-peak days, go to the website skagwayalaskaescapes.com or call (907) 612-0499. The cost for the escape room is $35 per person, with a flat rate of $175 for a group up