Monday, 4 July 2016

Golden Circle: Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is a bit of a come down (literally!) after that magnificent drive down the South Klondike Highway.  But it is one of the first main stops in Alaska for a lot of cruise ship passengers, hence the abundance of tanzanite, Alaskan diamond and gemstone stores.  The town has a wide main drag lined with shops and eateries on both sides - very much a frontier town.  The architecture is quite "cute" as you can see from some of the images below.  

It used to be the gateway to the gold mines via the 45 mile White Pass Trail, also known as the "Dead Horse Trail" for obvious reasons.  Now it is a gateway to the mountains, the new gold - what the tourists came for.  The town, with a population of around 1,000, schedule its life around the White Pass Railroad timetable, almost the raison d'etre for the town itself.  Everything stops when the train is unloading its tourists and letting them loose on the town to spend their dollars.  And the train runs a perfect schedule for the local businesses - bringing back the tourists just in time for lunch and do some shopping before getting on the cruise ship again, just as the afternoon crowd was finishing their lunch and ready to hop on the train.

I talked to the station master for the train, an empathetic local - she said the town pretty much shuts down after September when the cruise ships stop coming.  We kind of wondered what the locals do during the long winter months.  We had booked tickets for the White Pass Summit Excursion the following day all the while wondering if we should because we would be taking the train up the way we came down and it wasn't cheap - more in the next post.




Picturesque - almost like a town in a model train set!



The main drag


A tame version of frontier town swagger
  

Cute buildings- mostly curio shops


  

 




This historical building, with a facade of 9,000 pieces of driftwood, used to be the home of the Camp Skagway No. 1, a brotherhood of speculators and miners established in 1899.


Sculpture of the gold miners in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park





The haunted Golden North Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Alaska, built in 1898




A must-stop for people with a sweet tooth - Klondike Doughboy selling made to order Alaskan fry bread - delicious!

Happy customer!


Another must-stop - the Skagway Brewing Company - to sample a range of handcrafted Alaskan beers 



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