A Historic Gold Rush Town
The port of Skagway Alaska is a popular stop for cruise ships. Skagway, with a population of 860 is predominantly a tourist community, with historical Tlingit influences. Downtown buildings have been colorfully restored to reflect the history of the gold rush through the Chilkoot Pass. When in Skagway visit the Gold Rush Cemetery; Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park; Chilkoot Trail Center; Soapy Smith’s Parlor; Brothel Tour; Haunted Red Light Walking Tour; Corrington Museum; Skagway Museum and Archive. Cultural events in Skagway include the Buckwheat Ski Classic (March); Mini Folk Festival (April); Euchulon/Hooligan Run (April); Skagway Film Festival (May); Quilter’s Wholesale Market (May); Summer Solstice (June); the International Softball Tournament (July); Fourth of July; Eastern Star Flower Show (August); Klondike Trail of ’98 Road Relay (Sept); and the Victorian Yuletide Weekend (Dec).
Chilkoot Pass History:
Skagway has one of the most colorful histories of any place in Alaska. In 1896, gold was found in the Klondike region of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Beginning in the summer of 1897, thousands of hopeful miners poured in to the new town and prepared for the 500-mile journey to the gold fields in Canada. This journey began for many when they climbed the mountains over the White Pass above the town and onward across the Canada border to the Lake Bennett, or one of its neighboring lakes, where they built barges and floated down the Yukon River to the gold fields around Dawson City. Others disembarked at nearby Dyea, northwest of Skagway, and crossed northward on the Chilkoot Pass, an existing Tlingit trade route to reach the lakes. Some prospectors also realized how difficult the trek would be that lay ahead on the route and chose to stay behind to supply goods and services to miners. Within a year, stores, saloons, and offices lined the muddy streets of Skagway. The population was estimated at 8,000 residents during the spring of 1898 with approximately 1,000 prospective miners passing through town each week. By June 1898, with a population between 8,000 and 10,000, Skagway was the largest city in Alaska.
Skagway Alaska Today:
The Skagway area today is home to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and White Pass and Chilkoot Trails. Skagway has a historic district of about 100 buildings from the gold rush era. It receives about 3/4 million tourists annually, most of whom come on cruise ships. The White Pass and Yukon Route railway still operates its narrow-gauge train around Skagway during the summer months. Skagway is now also served by the Klondike Highway, completed in 1978, which connects it to the Alaska Highway.
The town of Skagway’s website.
Depart the Skagway waterfront and immediately enter the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest with an experienced Alaska bush pilot. Whether you want to land on a mountain lake, fly over fjords, view glaciers and wildlife or just enjoy the phenomenal and breathtaking beauty of the last frontier. Scheduled services are also available to Haines and Yakutat.
Skagway has a cool, temperate marine environment with the temperature being 10 degrees cooler than Seattle in both the summer and winter. The rain/snowfall is approximately 33.09″ per year. The name Skagway means “Home of the North Wind” in Tlingit and is appropriate for the winds that can significantly lower temperatures with a wind-chill factor.
Skagway is located 90 miles northeast of Juneau at the northernmost end of Lynn Canal, at the head of Taiya Inlet. It lies 108 road miles south of Whitehorse, just west of the Canadian border at British Columbia.
Skagway is accessible via ferry, automobile or plane. If driving, the Alaska Highway connects to the Klondike Highway. To arrive by water, the Alaska’s Marine Highway System services the Skagway area. Juneau is the primary domestic air entry point for Southeast Alaska and travelers on the Inside Passage and is a 45-minute commuter flight from Skagway on Skagway Air or Wings of Alaska. Skagway is also accessible from Haines or Juneau via the Haines-Skagway Water Taxi and the Chilkat Cruises fast ferry.
Skagway Alaska is a full service community with a range of accommodations, eateries, rental facilities for both vehicles and outdoor equipment, and medical and emergency facilities.