We docked in Skagway on Sunday, the only ship in port, and a small ship at that. Most shops and restaurants were closed. A DESERTED movie set.
Jack London came here in 1897. The ship's newsletter included these comments:
Oddly enough, London didn't describe this trip in any of the dozens of stories based on his northern experiences; perhaps it was simply too peaceful.Or boring.
Today, tourists have replaced the miners, making the town less interesting. The seven-block downtown district is known as Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.
A large stone marks the spot where two people were murdered in one day several years ago: an historic event in Skagway. If we did that in DC, the place would be filled with these stone markers.
Tours Are Much More Exciting than Town
I had a hard time deciding which tour to choose here.
Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, a designation it shares with the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower and the Statute of Liberty.
The WP & YR climbs almost 3,000 feet in just 20 miles and features steep grades of up to 3.9%, cliff-hanging turns of 16 degrees, two tunnels, and numerous bridges and trestles. Today the train operates on the first 67 miles (Skagway to Carcross, Yukon) of the original 110-mile line. It's Alaska's most popular shore excursion and carries over 450,000 visitors during the May-September season.
I choose instead the helicopter ride with a glacier landing -- which was sensational -- but I wish time had allowed me to do both excursions.
Skagway Glaciers by Helicopter
We lift off from the heliport near Skagway:
and get glorious views, looking back at the harbor:
We head into the region of rugged mountains and glaciers: