THE CITY OF SKAGWAY

During our 7-day cruise on board the Island Princess from Whittier (Alaska) down to Vancouver (British Columbia) in June of 2008, we had three ports of call - Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan.

Skagway, a first-class borough in Alaska on the Alaska Panhandle, was our first port of call. It is the northernmost point on the Inside Passage (Alaska Marine Highway), lying 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Juneau which is the capital city of Alaska. The area was originally inhabited by Tlingit Indians, and its name derives from the Tlingit word Skagua, meaning “the Place Where the North Wind Blows.”

Skagway was formerly a city first incorporated in 1900 that was re-incorporated as a borough on June 25, 2007. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 862. However, the population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 visitors. The city boasts some of the most dramatic terrain in all of Southeast Alaska, and some of the friendliest people.

In 1898, this distinctive geography made Skagway the perfect port destination for gold miners hoping to strike it rich in the mighty Yukon Territory. In the largest Gold Rush ever seen in North America, 100,000 men and women landed on the shores of Skagway and neighboring town Dyea.

The gold rush was a boon and by 1898 Skagway was Alaska's largest town, with a population of 20,000. Hotels, saloons, dance halls and gambling houses prospered. But when the gold yield dwindled in 1900, as did the population as miners quickly shifted to new finds in Nome, Alaska. Today, Skagway still retains the flavor of the gold rush era, especially on Broadway Street with its false-front buildings and the Trail of '98 Museum's outstanding collection of memorabilia.

The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and the tourist trade is a big part of the business of Skagway. In our morning shore excursion, Nena and I took a motorcoach and traveled through the downtown historic district, seeing Skagway much as it looked during the gold rush days. We then headed to The Lookout, for a panoramic view of the Skagway Valley, glacier-clad mountains, Lynn Canal and the wharf where cruise ships were docked. And after our tour, we saw the Day's of '98 Show which is the longest running production in Alaska. This show has it all: singing and dancing, comedy and drama which brings Skagway's colorful history to life.

Skagway is also the home of the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, the "Scenic Railway of the World" one of Alaska's most popular visitor attractions. This narrow gauge railroad was part of the area's mining past and is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer months. During that trip Nena and I boarded the train which took us on an unforgettable journey to the White Pass summit. The train climbs nearly 3,000 feet over 20 miles and steep grades and cliff-hanging turns. On that train ride we enjoyed the breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites.

During our tour of downtown Skagway I took some photographs and you can view a slideshow by clicking on the link shown below:

The City of Skagway

Enjoy your cyberspace tour of The City of Skagway.



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