A quick history lesson.
When you set foot in Skagway, you are stepping into a part of history. An estimated 100,000 gold seekers set foot in this area back in the late 19th century. From 1896-1899 a stampede of prospectors decided to take the very risky career path of finding gold in Alaska. What they expected to find in Skagway and Dyea was too good to be true.
Back at this time, once you arrived to find gold, you could land at the Skagway or Dyea port. I think most of these people figured gold would be on the ground waiting for them because only an estimated 35,000 actually tried to make the trip from port up the mountain in order to find gold. The remaining people who did not want to bare all the problems that come with finding gold either left or set up shop in the area. All the people who dared the dangerous path to gold were going to need help.
From port you had to take the White Pass or Chilkoot Trail. You also, could not just show up and go. No, you had to prove you had what it took to spend a year in the Yukon. That meant you had to take 1 ton of supplies with you up the mountain. After you climbed either route you then had to get to the Klondike. (That is where the most gold action was happening.) That was 300 miles away near the famous Dawson City.
People will do crazy things for money, and it was widely reported that the Klondike held a lot of gold for all. That is why people fled to Dyea and Skagway to get lucky.
However, Dyea did not last very long do to the “The Palm Sunday” avalanche on April 3rd, 1898. This horrible incident resulted in the death of over 65 people. After this, many people became skeptical with Dyea and moved over to the neighboring town of Skagway.
Not much is left of Dyea and if I did not write a blog about it, you may not even have known about this once populated area. If you are able to take the short drive over to Dyea, you can’t really tell that a town was once there. Currently, flatlands dominate the are where the wildlife roam, and hikers go to get away from civilization.
This whole process in hopes to find gold seems like a lot of work to me, and there is so much more I could tell you, but I am running out of room. Here are some links to some great information regarding this time in history.