Saturday, July 21, 2012

203/366 "I Wanna Ride the Train" ~ Day 4

Early this morning we docked in Skagway. This small city (pop. 825 year round) is surrounded by high rugged mountains, at the end of a narrow, windy fjord. Skagway was built between 1897 and 1900, when the Klondike Gold Rush put Alaska on the map!

The train depot and train were directly across from the dock, and, as you can see, everyone is waiting by the train. I had to explain over and over again that our tour began on a bus heading up the mountains and THEN we would ride the train.  Bill kept whining, "But, I wanna ride the train." and Mike, when we got to the bus, said, "I've been around awhile, and I can tell you that this bus is NOT a train." It was like we had stepped back in time to two little boy's childhoods...

After the train pulled out, we were able to see all of these paintings on the rock. Some of the crew, from every ship that docks here for the first time,
paint the date, and the name of their ship and their captain. They say that the lower the painting, the less the captain is liked!
We searched for the ms Volendam, but never found her painting. This is only a small portion of the painted mountain side.

The views, again, were breathtaking on our bus tour toward the White Pass Summit.
The vistas have become much more rugged.

The Yukon Suspension Bridge at Tutshi Canyon. 

And finally, the big boys were happy! We boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad!

Fortune hunters from all over the country rushed to the Klondike in 1897-98 to seek their fortunes in gold but they were tested by the hardships of the journey.
Each person was required to take 6 months of supplies (about 2,000 pounds) with them on the trail into Canada,
so many would take a partial load to the Canadian border, then go back to Skagway to get the rest. You can still see the trail they traveled...

From the train, outside on the car landing... Skagway is there by the water.
Not too long after this spot I went to the other side of the train and saw a brown bear! Too fast to get a shot though :(

Yep, that's me, hanging off the landing!

We stopped to let these hikers board the train. They had spent the night in the old caboose.
You can reserve a night through the National Park Service!

By the time our train let us off, it was time for lunch, but first, some Alaskan Microbrews.

After our delicious salmon bake, we settled in for a show here in Liarsville; the actors told stories and sang of the Klondikers.
FYI, many college students and teachers spend their summers in Alaska with the Tourism Department.

They taught us how to pan for gold and then let us loose to find our fortune!!! 
I think Bill found a speck :o)

Mike and Deb are looking intently, too, and we did find a little gold, fool's gold, that is!

We took the bus from Liarsville back to Skagway, and en route,
we stopped at this gorgeous spot overlooking the town.

Our final stop was The Red Onion Saloon, where we met the "Madam" of this former brothel.
Many women were ready to make their fortune off of the rich Klondikers.

Most of the original buildings are still in tact because the weather here is drier and colder than the wet, slightly warmer clime of the cities on the ocean side.
This building is the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, where men met before they headed for the gold fields. Driftwood forms the facade.

And... I just love this precious pup waiting in his side car for his human to return!

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