Alaska: All Aboard Skagway’s White Pass & Yukon Route
I was in Skagway many years ago and I could see right away it has changed. The commercial district has expanded, but has still kept to its original, historical architecture; the number of shops has grown considerably and been significantly improved in terms of the quality and price of the merchandise. There were many shops featuring beautiful Alaskan mammoth ivory pieces and local art, all lovely and quite pricey. The National Park Service has a greatly expanded presence with more facilities and museums along the main street of Broadway.
We took a bus ride out-of-town to Fraser Canada and enjoyed some historical commentary and beautiful scenery along the way. Once there, we boarded the famous White Pass & Yukon Route historic train for the 20-mile trip back to Skagway. The rail line was built 113 years ago, against all odds, to facilitate the Klondike gold rush. This narrow-gauge train cuts through dramatic scenery and winds through treacherous passages, reaching 2,865′ at its summit.
Our ship is now officially considered a charmed group, and once again we enjoyed blue skies and crystal clear weather. I took this train before but didn’t have this incredible weather, so today’s scenery was especially glorious. Unfortunately, they only run the vintage steam engine on Monday and Friday’s, so we were pulled by a couple of regular diesel engines. I didn’t even see the steam engine on this trip. Glad I got a decent picture of it years ago.
Obviously, the cruise ships have generated a more recent type of gold rush, bringing thousands of people (and their money) into this economy. Skagway has handled the transition well.
When we got off the train, we spent some time walking on the quaint, retro-style main street, visiting the old-fashioned train station, and shopping. We enjoyed a halibut chowder and seafood pastry lunch at Olivia’s Bistro located in the Historic Skagway Inn.