DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA

Hi there! I took a bit of a detour since last telling you about our recent cruise to Alaska. So I thought I’d return to the topic of Alaska and bring you our last Alaska port of call, Skagway.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Of the several towns we visited on our Celebrity Cruise to Alaska, Skagway was my favorite. It had the most charm and character by far, with a old Alaska kind of vibe that didn’t strike me as too touristy like the capital city of Juneau and Ketchikan did. Our ship, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Solstice, dropped anchor in the Port of Skagway which is conveniently located right in the heart of town.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

In fact, it was almost as though the cruise ships were parked right on the main Street!

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Our first stop was the Skagway Visitor’s Center, housed in the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. Built in 1899, this historic building is adorned with 8,800 pieces of driftwood and is considered the most photographed building in Alaska. I’ve never seen anything like this before and found it beautiful & fascinating. The Brotherhood was established for the purposes of fraternal enjoyment and mutual aid. Over 30 such camps were established throughout Alaska, the Yukon and Northern British Columbia.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The Brotherhood once entertained President Warren G. Harding here. Today, the friendly folks inside have information on every aspect of what to do and see in Skagway.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comDROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Two things about Skagway intrigued me the most. First, the fact that Skagway is part of the setting for Jack London’s book, The Call of the Wild, a book I loved as a child and was probably responsible for introducing me to a love of reading. Second, Skagway is historically considered the gateway to the Gold Rush of 1898 and that’s much of what gives it its charm today. The colorful town has maintained the integrity of the old, and retains its gold rush era flavor without feeling too much like a tourist trap.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

As you can see, the great Klondike Gold Rush (1897 to 1898) lives on in Skagway’s downtown of restored 19th century buildings.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Because gardens grow in abundance here, in 1988 Skagway was declared “The Garden City of Alaska.” Today many pretty flower boxes line the historic district and are maintained by the local Garden Club.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The locals, who number only around 1 thousand year round but swell to double that number in the summer months, welcome close to 1 million visitors annually. They do so enthusiastically, serving up a taste of old Alaska to tourists eager to participate. The local park ranger greets visitors…

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

a vintage car club cruises the boulevard…

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

and hungry visitors line up for Klondike Fry Bread.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Skagway’s, “The Days of ’98 Show with Soapy Smith” has been entertaining audiences since 1923 with the tale of Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, Alaska’s most notorious outlaw. Soapy reigned over Skagway during the wildest days of the Klondike Gold Rush, and this colorful vaudevillian musical recounts his incredible life and dramatic demise! The show’s Can Can Girls holler to passersby.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

We stopped into an authentic 1910 saloon museum which is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. At one time this frontier town boasted more than 80 saloons.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The restored saloon is designed to look much as Skagway saloons did back in the day, as pictured below in one of the old photographs on display.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And this is how the town looked in its rough-and-tumble Gold Rush heyday. During that time the population of the general area reached 30,000, composed largely of American prospectors. Some realized how difficult the trek to the gold fields would be and chose to stay behind to supply goods and services to miners. Very quickly stores & saloons lined the muddy streets of Skagway. Approximately 1,000 prospective miners passed through town each week.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Today tourists can quench their thirst in this evocative establishment called Bites on Broadway.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

One of the most popular things to do in the area is to ride the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Unfortunately we did not arrive into town at a time convenient for making this excursion so we missed it. However, we learned that the fully restored train cars, pulled by vintage diesel locomotives climb nearly 3,000 feet over 20 miles of steep grades and around cliff-hanging turns. The route retraces the original route to the White Pass Summit, passing Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch. A breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites can be seen through large, picture windows. Along the way the train agent recounts fascinating tales of Gold Rush history. Riders also get a view of the original Klondike Gold Rush Trail of 1898 which was worn into the rocks by the thousands of souls who passed this way in search of fortune. I’m sorry we missed it.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

As dusk fell we were back onboard Solstice, making our way to the next port of call, Victoria, British Columbia. Stay tuned for a visit to The Butchart Gardens, one of my favorite stops on this cruise.

DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So there you have it: DROPPING ANCHOR IN SKAGWAY ALASKA

Thanks so much for dropping in! 

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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. All photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission. This post contains affiliate links that help to make this blog possible.

Comments

  • Celia,
    This was a fun stop. Thanks for the detailed tour you’ve shared. What fun!
    I can hardly wait to visit Victoria with you! 🙂
    Karen

  • Thanks Karen. You know, I actually chose this particular cruise because it stopped in Victoria, a place I had always wanted to see. Stay tuned!