This morning I took the Fast Ferry (45 minutes) from Haines over to Skagway.
Below is a shot of Haines from the ferry.
I was told to expect a lot of people in Skagway, as 3 cruise ships were in town (apparently sometimes up to 6 or 7 cruise ships can be in town). Skagway survives mainly because of these cruise ships with more than 400 ships a year making the stop at Skagway. On the busiest days up to 9,000 tourists will swarm into the town – the modern-day version of the Klondike Gold Rush. Once the season is over the majority of the shops (many of which are owned by the Cruise lines) board up for the winter and only the hardy permanent residents remain.
In 1897 Skagway was the starting place for the 40,000 + gold-rush stampeders who were headed to the Yukon to make their fortune. The actual gold stampede only lasted a few years, but it produced one of the most colourful history in Alaska. This lawless frontier town was controlled by villainous ‘Soapy’ Smith, who was finally removed from power in a gunfight by town hero Frank Reid.; both are buried at the Klondike Gold Rush cemetery.
Obviously all of the town and the cemetery have been restored for the tourists, but I kind of liked it. It certainly gave me a feel for what this place might have been like in its heyday. Ever since I read the book “Alaska” by James A. Michener almost 21 years ago I wanted to visit this place to see where the gold rush had begun. So to say that I was happy to finally have made my way there is an understatement. I know that most of the town has been historically restored, but I loved it.
Below are some photos of Broadway St, the main thoroughfare in Skagway.
I tried panning for gold whilst I was in town, but unfortunately it will be back to work for me.
After a days walking I was glad to get back to my mini cabin in Haines for a strong coffee and a comfy bed to sit on. I was told to go down to the Chilkoot Lake around 9pm for a chance to see bears fishing, so will give that a try tonight and then it is a morning of repacking the car and exploring Haines before making my way over to Juneau on the 5pm car ferry.