Category: Skaguay Alaskan Visitor Guide
The South Klondike Highway is not only the most scenic route to the Yukon and Interior Alaska, it also is a vital commercial link. You will be driving this highway with large trucks hauling various commodities, and large buses carrying other tourists. Also watch for bicycle tours and sightseers. Drive safely and enjoy the ride.
The map of the railroad shows general characteristics of the route from Skagway to Bennett. Use the numbers to follow points of interest along the way.
For first time visitors, Skagway might seem but a narrow valley, hemmed in by mountains, snow, and ice. Yet, there are a great many hidden things that lie just beyond what is readily seen. There are narrow coves where families of otters drift lazily on the surf at the first light of day.
What’s in a name? As the following glossary suggest, plenty. The place names that dot the landscape are living reminders of who has been before us, along with some of their attitudes, legends and whimsy. You’ll soon find that the people who gave Skagway its names were a lively, humorous and patriotic bunch.
By Jeff Brady Skagway bustles today in the summer like the boomtown it was in 1897-1898, but a few miles away, and a couple of valleys over to the northwest, lies a place that local residents and visitors cherish for its quiet...
The area known as the Golden Circle (Skagway-Whitehorse-Dawson-Haines) is becoming a popular destination for the adventure racer. These are the big ones:
By Huberta Rourke Swensen
Our arrival in Skagway was a grand reunion of hugs and kisses with everyone talking at once, not caring much about what was said. Being together was all that mattered. More serious communication would come later.
The first excitement over, Grandmother said, “I have shopping and ordering of supplies to do in town, so we won’t take the train to Clifton until day after tomorrow. I’ve made reservations at the Golden North for our rooms and meals while we are here. We will visit with George and Clara Dedman.”
The Dedmans helped establish the original Golden North Hotel during the gold rush and later expanded it into a new building, which they moved in 1908 to its present location in the center of town.
Grandmother and Grandfather Rourke had many good friends in Skagway, to whom we were introduced. Gertrude Mulvihill, daughter of Nellie and William John “Mul” Mulvihill, chief dispatcher of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, became my playmate during the summer of 1917.
After visiting friends and seeing Grandmother’s ordering completed, we were off to Clifton Station to greet Grandfather. He had been unable to leave his work as section foreman. Dear Dog Gyp had grieved for days after we had left in 1913, and his happiness at seeing us again was exciting.
Grandfather’s greeting was warm and affectionate, and we wouldn’t give him a minute’s peace until he took us to see the playhouse he had created for us. He had reinforced an old bear cave in the side of the mountain below the station house. It was safe, and he had furnished it with doll beds, cupboards and chairs that he had made from boxes and painted white.
Once we were down the steep, precarious path to its entrance, we loved it. Everything that was chewable for the squirrels’ nests had to be brought up to the station house every evening. We enjoyed our red squirrel neighbors, but they had no respect for others’ property, and stealing was part of their game.
We were taught to identify bear tracks and did not linger long, nor complete a trip, if we saw any. However, we had been instructed not to fear them, but to stand still, looking directly at them. We never had to put those directions to use. Mother bears with their cubs often, when going through the area, would pass close by, and we would remain quiet where we were. Even though I’m sure Mother Bear sensed our nearness, she would go her own way with the cubs trailing close behind. She knew we would not harm them and was more intent on getting to the berries, which were everywhere – high and low bush cranberries, wild raspberries and blueberries – and the river was not far below.
To greet us at Clifton beside Grandfather and Dog Gyp were some of the section crew and soldiers from Fort Seward near Haines. They were sent over each month to board and room at the station house while they guarded and patrolled the railroad tracks and bridges during the World War One years.
Grandmother and Mother were soon in their aprons with their hands in biscuit dough, and we were taken for a ride on the push car and a walk along the railroad tracks. The wonderful aromas came wafting toward us, and soon the dinner bell was ringing. After washing our hands we were all at the big, long table ready to eat.
The station house was not beautiful. It was large with high ceilings, barren floors, scrubbed spotlessly clean, very few windows, but cheerful in Grandmother’s ruffle curtains. A woman’s touch was evident everywhere. With all the love and friendship, it was truly home for those who lived there year-round and those like us who were there for a short time.
Glacier Station had been the same for us in 1913, and Grandmother’s many flower boxes all along the platform were a beautiful sight. Her pansy blossoms were as large as saucers. How could they be otherwise in the land where it was light all night and the soil a rich, black loam of decay from centuries past.
Brother and I were assigned helping-out duties, and one of them was to help with dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.
Our lessons in geology, geography and history would start the next day. We were in the midst of all that we had read and studied about during the winter before our departure to the land of the midnight sun. There would be only three months for everything planned, and so much to see.
– Excerpt from Our Summer in Alaska, 1917 by Huberta R. Swensen, LCP, 1991.
Dewey Lakes Trail System • Walk east on 3rd Avenue by the Westmark Inn until you reach the railroad tracks. Trail begins on the other side of the tracks.Read More
1976-77 – Congress passes national park legislation in June 1976 and superintendent and historical architect arrive. A temporary visitor center opens in the old depot, and the park is dedicated in Skagway in June 1977. The park includes four components: Skagway unit, Dyea-Chilkoot unit, White Pass unit, and Seattle-Pioneer Square unit. City forms Historic District Commission.Read More
Pre-1887 – Skaqua or Shgagwéi, as it is known by the Tlingit, a windy place with “white caps on the water,” is used by Chilkoots and Chilkats for hunting and fishing.Read More
One hundred years ago in the summer of 1917, the world was at war and it had come to Skagway.Read More
I don’t know how authentic this story is. It was told to my brother and me years ago by my mother. The story is about the two Tlingit Indians who found the gold that started the stampede that was later known as the Klondike Gold Rush. It’s not the story of the gold rush itself, but events leading to the discovery of gold.Read More
The history of Skagway is complex. Like many places throughout the United States, what is viewed as discovery and opportunity for wealth from the perspective of American culture is in reality the invasion of the traditional territory of an indigenous population.Read More
Skagway Centennial Park. Located at 1st and Broadway, this park features the city’s Centennial Statue of a Tlingit packer leading a prospector up the trail in 1897, Rotary Snowplow #1, a time capsule, monuments, orientation signs, covered waiting area, water fountain, benches, and native plants.Read More
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.Read More
PHONES: Skagway has good cell service in town and all the way to the entrance of Dyea, but only about a mile up the highway. There is service in all Yukon towns. A few pay phones are scattered around town. See map for advertisers with internet and WiFi services. AP&T has wireless hot spots around town for a fee. Alaska’s area code is 907.Read More
By Deb Vanasse Before the Klondike stampede, before the purchase of Alaska, before the “discovery”...Read More
As told by Si Dennis Sr. from Skagway: City of the New Century I don’t know how authentic this story is. It was told to my brother and me years ago by my mother. The story is about the two Tlingit Indians who found the gold that...Read More