Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alaska '08 day 17, Skagway AK

Sat June 28, 2008

Today we drove down to Skagway. It is about 100 miles from Whitehorse and the only other way to get there is by boat. We will duck down across the border for a couple days then head back north to the Klondike at Dawson City YT.

The drive is great. After Carcross you climb into the high alpine pass. Its all rocks and stunted pines maybe 12" tall. All the mountain peaks are covered in snow. There was left over snow drifts along the road. The clouds were pushing up the pass from sea level and spilling out like a smoke stack. We got a
picture of the Alaska border sign. The train was running the steam engine through the pass when we came through and you could see it in the distance.

We were in early enough to go downtown (2 minutes from the campground) and see the National Parks Visitors Center and Klondike Museum. The park service has a couple other buildings setup on display also. The main street of Skagway (Broadway) is restored for maybe 8 blocks. They get lots of cruise ships so all the buildings are filled with stores. Lots of jewelry stores.

After dinner we drove over to Dyea. Not much to see there but it is a great drive. The road mostly hugs the cliffs all around. We saw the head of the Chilkoot trail the Klondike stampeders used. Dyea had access to the preferred trail, the Chilkoot but it was a shallow port for offloading ships. Skagway was a deepwater port but its White Pass was harder to climb. Skagway and the White Pass became the preferred routine in 1899 when they opened a railroad to the top . Once the railroad opened, Dyea became a ghost town. The park system has some markers along the Dyea drive. We drove back to the Dyea townsite. There really isn't anything there anymore but some rubble in the woods. Dyea was abandoned when the WP&YR railroad openned. After that they dismantled most of the buildings for the wood.

Tomorrow we ride the train.

- Jon


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