Photo essay: Skagway, Alaska
Here our some of our best images of Skagway, Alaska:
Introduction to Skagway
Without question, Skagway is unequalled in scenic splendor: we invite your eyes to dance with it. Situated at the head of the Taiya Inlet within a glacial valley, it’s a thriving little town steeped in Gold Rush history. Its nearby trails, the iconic White Pass and Yukon Railway, coupled with tasty dining choices, make Skagway a worthy place to visit. Pop it on your travel itinerary, and see for yourself.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Much of Skagway is within Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which, as seen on our tour of the place, entails the Chilkoot Trail, the White Pass Trail corridor and the visitor center. It really is a charming place to explore. Funnel over to Broadway, Skagway’s Main Street and you’ll be immersed in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush National Park Historic District.
Gold Rusher’s dollars
Skagway and Dyea competed for the Gold Rusher’s dollars. Skagway won, largely because of its better harbor and the creation of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad where upon the Klondike stampede for gold brought tens of thousands of people to Southeast Alaska.
All the charm of a small town that time forgot
Skagway has all the charm of a small town that time forgot. It has a year round population of less than 1,000, where Warren G. Harding is the only President to ever visit Skagway. In fact, the Harding Glacier is his namesake, which can be seen from town. As Southeast Alaskan towns in the summertime go, Skagway flexes touristic warmth and a radiant vibe with beautifully restored churches and structures, neat one- and two-story buildings painted in cheery colors. It lives, thrives and bristles with energy imbued with the spirit of the Gold Rush, a must see on your Alaskan vacation.
The Arctic Brotherhood Hall
Arctic Brotherhood Hall is one of Skagway’s centrepieces: with over 8,800 pieces of driftwood originally nailed to and making up the false facade, it is the most photographed building in Alaska! Impossible to miss. Stop and take your picture in front of what was once was a fraternal hall in 1899.
The White Pass and Yukon Railroad Route
We invite you to share in the excitement of accomplishment and pioneering adventure–of triumph over all odds–the story of the Klondike Gold Rush and the White Pass and Yukon Railroad (WP&YR). The old steam engines of the WP&YR route guzzled fantastic volumes of fuel and water as they worked their way over the White Pass summit. The railroaders called them “hogs” due to their unquenchable fuel needs and an engineer a “hoghead.” J.D. True, a famous hoghead, spent 40 years riding the rails and telling tales of his adventuring. He recalls charging moose, runaway trains as snows higher than a train’s caboose (a railroad car).
Skagway’s unique history as a vital transportation corridor and gateway to interior Alaska and the Yukon is portrayed beautifully in the Skagway Museum’s collection of rich artefacts, revealing photographs, as historical records of the past century exhibited in the venerable McCabe College building, located at 7th Avenue and Spring Street. Originally built as a school in 1899 by the Methodist Church, closed in 1901 and sold to the federal government. The building served as a U.S. Court House and jail until 1956, when it was purchased as City Hall and Skagway Museum since 1961.
Free from mass urbanization
Welcome to Skagway! The closest stoplight is over 100 miles away in Whitehorse, Canada. And beautifully, that is also the location of the nearest MacDonalds. There are only 4 bars in Skagway: The Red Onion Saloon, The Bonanza, The Pizza Station, and The Skagway Brewing Company. Splendidly, there are no franchise restaurants in Skagway. There’s a cafe that “Proudly Serves Starbucks,” but isn’t actually a Starbucks. And in winter, only 1 restaurant stays open per week, and they rotate which one that is. Tourism really is the only industry in small town Skagway. Come and see for yourself.
The Sunshine Capital
Known as the “sunshine capital” of southeast Alaska, Skagway receives a mere 27 inches of rainfall a year. The year-round population of Skagway is below 1,000, which balloons to more than double in the summer months from May to September. Compare that to during the Gold Rush days, when it crammed in a populace of 12,000. Whoa!
A funny farewell
Did you know about an amusing tradition on the last day of the summer season in Skagway: as the final cruise ship pulls away, the town’s residents line the dock and moon the (un)lucky passengers. Ooh err missus! Then come September 8-9, the Klondike Road Relay Race takes place all the way from Skagway to Whitehorse. That’s 110 miles along the Klondike Highway. The longest leg is 16 miles, and the steepest has an elevation change of over 1,768-feet over just 5 miles.
Captain Moore’s homestead
Captain William Moore and his son settled in Skagway to capitalise on a future gold rush that Moore predicted and foresaw the valley as a gateway to the interior gold fields. Over a decade, they built a wharf and sawmill to support their homestead claim and began opening the White Pass Trail. Pictures is the first building constructed in Skagway ten years before the stampede for gold: the Moore cabin. Built in 1887, it remains the oldest structure in Skagway!
The historic Moore Homestead
A decade before the Klondike Gold Rush, William Moore and his son, J. Bernard (Ben) Moore, settled in what the local Tlingit natives called “Shghagwei,” which means rugged or windy place. To make money on this pending gold rush, the Moores industriously began homesteading 160 acres. In 1897, Ben and his wife, Minnie Elizabeth Moore (from a prestigious Tlingit family), built a one-and-a-half story wood frame house directly in front of their original log cabin. The growth of the house and the family mirrored the growth of Skagway. A historical site not to be missed on our rich tour of the town.
The Scenic Railway of the World
The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway is “The Scenic Railway of the World.” Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this rare narrow gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, a designation shared with the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. The WP&YR railway was considered an impossible task but it was literally blasted through coastal mountains in a mere 26 months.
A feat of engineering that overcame the hardships endured through a harsh winter and challenging geography. The WP&YR climbs almost 3,000 feet in just 20 miles and features steep grades of up to 3.9%, cliff-hanging turns of 16 degrees, two tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles. Join us on any of our tours to experience the WP&YR railroad: it embodies the Klondike Gold Rush, spectacular scenery, vintage railroad equipment and an unmissable historic site.
An explosive story in history
Tens of thousands of men and 450 tons of explosives overcame harsh climate and challenging geography to create the “railway built of gold.” Today, 119 years later, you can re-live the adventure and the “triumph over challenge” in comfort and safety on our tour of Skagway.
J. Bernard Moore’s family
The Moore Homestead was residence to J. Bernard (Ben) Moore and his wife, Klinget-sai-yet Shotridge. Moore renamed her Minnie Elizabeth Moore when they married and had three children: Bernard Jr. (Bennie), Edith Gertrude and Frances Flora. While relations between the Moores and local Native community were strengthened by this marriage, relations between Ben and his father were strained by it. Perhaps the tension was an early sign of the more difficult times ahead.
Skagway: a must see place
When you come to Skagway, prepare to deposit heavily in the good times bank. Think: historical Tlingit culture; beautiful restoration of colorful 19th century buildings from the gold rush era; the Gold Rush cemetery; the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park; the Chilkoot Trail Center; Soapy Smith’s Parlor; the Skagway Museum; and the list goes on.