As you may know I was working on Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Wonder visited Skagway every week throughout the summer, from end of May until September.
Skagway is the first city located in Alaska’s inside passage and the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Skagway has five churches, one library and one finacical institution. Also over 200 hotel/motel rooms. Nearly one million visitors are expected in the summer. Skagway is the embarkation point for the famous Chilkoot trail. There is just over 1,000 people living in Skagway which doubles in the summer months.
Skagway is known as the sunshine capital of Alaska, only getting 27 inches of rain a year. Summer is also the time of the midnight sun. There are about 18 hours of sunlight in Skagway during the month of June.
Klondlike Gold Rush
It was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in north western Canada between 1896 and 1899. Gold was discovered there by local miners on 16th August 1896. To reach the gold fields, they would follow Chilkoot or White Pass trail, to the Yukon River and sail down to Klondike. They were required to bring a year’s supply of food by the Canadian authorities in order to prevent starvation, with all their equipment, they would carry a ton. Once they arrived, there was much disappointment, very few opportunities.
The White Pass & Yukon Route
A group of British financiers began construction of the narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Route railway in July of 1898. Completed to Whitehorse in 1900, and connecting with a region – wide steamship navigation system, the White Pass corporation began a transportation network in the North that remains to this day. Skagway boomed during the Gold Rush of 1898, but languished as the rush moved on to nome in 1899. After the turn of the century many of the businesses moved their buildings from the avenues to front on Broadway and the tracks of the White Pass Railway. The town settled into it’s ultimate, but less dramatic role as the shipping port for the Yukon Fire, the scourge of many historic Alaskan towns thankfully never ravaged downtown Skagway, leaving on authentic Gold Rush atmosphere. 110 miles long was essential for eager gold seekers and offered an easy and comfortable traverse of the steep rocky terrain from tidewater at Skagway to Whitehorse Yukon. Today only operates along 67.5 miles of track.
Look out for more throughout the week!