A look down Broadway towards the cruise ship terminal
Day 4 of our Alaskan cruise saw us arriving in Skagway at 0700hrs; we disembarked around 0800hrs into the frosty morning air with the sun trying to melt the frost.
The White Pass train coming into Skagway
Skagway is the gateway to the Klondike, which actually is in the Yukon in Canada, and while the gold rush is over, it can get very busy with cruise ship passengers in the height of the season; some days there are as many as 5 cruise ships in port. The day we arrived our ship was one of three that visited. Skagway is famous for a lot of things, amongst them their White Pass train, which takes you through the mountains into the Yukon in Canada. We decided to give this a miss and instead took to exploring Skagway on foot.
Mr. T enjoying Reids Falls
First on my must see list was the Goldrush Cemetery, which is about a 40 minute walk through the town (you can read more about the cemetery in this post from my previous trip), there is a local bus that gets you to within 10 minutes walk. However, aside from the cemetery, I really wanted to show Mr. T the Reids Falls, which are just a little hike up from the graveyard. When we visited there was nobody else at the falls. There is a tour in one of those historic busses, they stop at the cemetery and give you a bit of the history, but note, that you do not get time to walk up to the waterfalls.
After this we took a stroll back into town to take in all the different historical buildings and do some souvenir shopping. When shopping for souvenirs in Alaska, make sure you buy items that are actually made in Alaska. Look out for the official emblem which depicts a mother bear and her cub in a rectangular format with the words “Made in Alaska” underneath. Note that the “Made in Alaska” emblem has no established colors, but I saw it mainly in black and white.
The Arctic Brotherhood Hall, Skagway, Alaska
One of the most iconic buildings in the town is the Arctic Brotherhood Hall; apparently it is the most photographed building in Alaska. The front of the building is made up of 8,883 pieces of driftwood, which were all collected by the Brotherhood’s members on the shores of Skagway Bay. The facade was restored in 2004/2005; all driftwood pieces were removed and it was found that 40% had rotted, so they were replaced; the remaining 60% were still in reasonable condition after more than 100 years and were therefore preserved. Today the building houses the Skagway Convention & Visitors Bureau.
A must visit when in Skagway!
On my first trip to Alaska I had bought myself a hand-made bead whose glaze contained gold found in Chicken, Alaska. I was determined to go back to that little marvel of a shop to see if I could add to my one bead necklace. I was pleased to find the shop still existed and was still in the hands of the same owners from 5 years ago. I was even more thrilled to discover that they still carried the beads, so Mr. T bought me two more. If you are in Skagway I urge you to visit this little shop, which is just off Broadway on a back alley between 4th and 5th Ave.
One of the new things we discovered were these totem poles; they did not exist when I visited in 2013. They are hand crafted and are on the side of Kirmse’s Curios, which is a locally owned shop specializing in jewellery and locally carved jade.
The Stampeder Statue in Skagway
This statue of a stampeder is also a new addition to Skagway; a stampeder was a prospector who was following the call of the Klondike goldrush. Officials in Canada required stampeders to carry 2,000lbs of food and supplies with them to ensure they would survive the harsh Canadian winter.
We were glad that we had not booked any tours, as there is so much to see and explore in Skagway, and all of it can be done on foot. For a self-guided walking tour you can visit Skagway’s official website and download some maps.