Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Skagway and the Klondike Gold Rush

White Pass & Yukon Route Train  Tour

Modern Skagway survives on tourist visits, especially by cruise ship passengers. The day Sherb and I arrived, it was cool and overcast. We signed up for the train tour up to the top of White Pass along one of the two main routes taken by prospectors in 1897 & 1898 to reach the Klondike gold fields along the Dawson River, five hundred miles into Canada from Skagway.  We met the White Pass & Yukon Route train that was waiting on dockside tracks for cruise ship passengers. 

Click for information about the White Pass & Yukon Route

One of many tour opportunities in Skagway, Alaska

Leaving Skagway

Along the route up to the pass

Announcement left by the Buchanan Boys, Alaska Entry Station on the Klondike Highway - photo contrast 

More about The Buchanan Boys - Click here








































To take a ride on the train on a sunny day

Click here --> Glen Brewer's blog - Gold Rush Narrow Guage 


One of the best sources of information about Alaska is author James Michener's book "Alaska" which describes the formation of the land, the wandering migration of humans and animals from Siberia into North America. 

The town of Skagway and the wild, lawless Klondike Gold Rush period, caused by the United States Congress's total neglect to pass any laws for a legal basis to administer the vast Alaskan territory, are vividly described in Michener's book.

There were no laws, no way to legally purchase land, no way to legally enforce contracts, no official police or other law enforcement agency created by Congress when the United States purchased Alaska from Imperial Russia. Congress had the attitude of not wanting to know, nor deal with anything about Alaska until after the Japanese attacks across the Pacific including landings on some of the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea off Alaska.

Skagway was "Hell on earth" until a small force of Canadian Mounted Police established an office there during the Klondike Gold Rush to bring some order to the tens of thousands of gold crazed innocents who were the constant victims of the con man Soapy Smith and his gang within minutes of stepping off the ships that brought them to Skagway. 

Learn more about Soapy Smith - Click here

Each person wanting enter Canada either by White Pass or Chilkoot Pass had to bring a year's supply, one ton, of food and equipment to be able to pass the Canadian border posts to continue the long journey to the new gold strike.


Click for more Information about The Golden Stairs - the Chilkoot Pass


The list shows a suggestion of equipment needed for prospectors before they were allowed entry into Canada at the summit of the Chilkoot Pass, 1897-1899. Total weight: 1 ton
  • 150 lb. bacon
  • 400 lb. flour
  • 25 lb. rolled oats
  • 125 lb. beans
  • 10 lb. tea
  • 10 lb. coffee
  • 25 lb. sugar
  • 25 lb. dried potatoes
  • 2 lb. dried onions
  • 15 lb. salt
  • 1 lb. pepper
  • 75 lb. dried fruits
  • 8 lb. baking powder
  • 2 lb. soda
  • ½ lb. evaporated vinegar
  • 12 oz. compressed soup
  • 1 can mustard
  • 1 tin matches (for four men)
  • Stove for four men
  • Gold pan for each
  • Set granite buckets
  • Large bucket
  • Knife, fork, spoon, cup, and plate
  • Frying pan
  • Coffee and teapot
  • Scythe stone
  • Two picks and one shovel
  • One whipsaw
  • Pack strap
  • Two axes for four men and one extra handle
  • Six 8-inch (200 mm) files and two taper files for the party
  • Draw knifebrace and bitsjack plane, and hammer for party
  • 200 feet three-eights-inch rope
  • 8 lb. of pitch and 5 lb (2.3 kg). ofoakum for four men
  • Nails, five lbs. each of 6,8,10 and 12 penny, for four men
  • Tent, 10 by 12 feet (3.0 m × 3.7 m) for four men
  • Canvas for wrapping
  • Two oil blankets to each boat
  • 5 yards of mosquito netting for each man
  • 3 suits of heavy underwear
  • 1 heavy mackinaw coat
  • 2 pairs heavy machinaw trousers
  • 1 heavy rubber-lined coat
  • 1 doz heavy wool socks
  • ½ doz heavy wool mittens
  • 2 heavy overshirts
  • 2 pairs heavy snagproof rubber boots
  • 2 pairs shoes
  • 4 pairs blankets (for two men)
  • 4 towels
  • 2 pairs overalls
  • 1 suit oil clothing
  • Several changes of summer clothing
  • Small assortment of medicines


Entering the tunnel

Dead Horse Gulch - The bones of pack animals are still visible in the gulch



The trail to the White Pass was the less steep but longer route out of Skagway. It is estimated that over 3,000 pack horses and mules died of overwork and maltreatment as the Gold Rush stampeders pressed for more speed to get to the top of the pass.









Nearing the Canadian border as we pass a descending train  waiting on a siding.

White Pass and the US - Canadian border - 2,888 feet of altitude gained in a bit more than 20 miles from Skagway

Passing the old wooden trestle as we descend from the pass

Returning to Skagway. The Klondike Highway is visible in the center of the photo.








The Chilkoot pass was an almost vertical trail that required many trips up and back at 50 to 60 pounds per backpack trip to accumulate the 1 ton of supplies needed to enter Canada. It is estimated that to move the one ton of supplies 1 mile, the stampeders hiked 80 miles.



Click here for information about Skagway, Alaska

The History of Skagway

Wikipedia article about Skagway

Click here for information about the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 to 1898.

  http://www.nps.gov/klgo/historyculture/index.htm

Next - A visit to Tracy Arm Fjord and Seattle Return

Thanks for taking the time to read about my travels.

Please click the colored link to view my other blog about living in Hawaii "Life in the 50th State"
Please give me photo credits if you use or share my photos for non-commercial use.
I use a Canon G-11 digital camera on a mono pod with a Manfrotto tilting head - usually without flash.

Please contact me at traveleral@aol.com should you need to use my photos commercially. Larger, digital files of my photos are available.
I encourage you to share this blog with your family and friends.
Your comments and criticisms are my reward for the effort to do this blog – they are appreciated.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

North to Alaska! To Alaska We Must Roam


Seattle to Juneau


In 2009 or 2010 I made a promise to my apartment mate, Sherb Valli, that I would take him on a cruise one day to repay all of his many kindnesses, constant patience & generosity. I do like to honor my promises.  So, in 2012 I booked us passage on a 7 day cruise to Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska.


Late in August 2012, Sherb  and I left Hawaii for Seattle. We arrived before noon and rather than pay the individual $27 shuttle bus fees to get to Seattle's cruise port from Sea-Tac Airport, we chose to ride the city bus for about an hour and a half for less than one dollar each. We received a price break because we are seniors, the only drawback was that the bus dropped us off in the middle of an overpass high over Smith's Cove where one of Seattle's two cruise ports is located.

Info about the city bus from SeaTac airport to the cruise terminals. Click here

Information about Smith's Cove Cruise Port - Click here

Sherb loved the walk, but I didn't!  Lucky for me, a shuttle bus going from long-term cruise parking directly to the ship, stopped to pick me up. I arrived first. I purchased a bottle of water for Sherb at a small snack shop in front of the embarkation building. I knew Sherb would be thirsty after his long walk.
 
Click here for a brief history of Seattle

The ship departed Seattle about 4 PM leaving during a beautiful summer evening. The weather was splendid the whole time we were in and out of Seattle. In fact, Seattle was in the middle of a long drought. 

Our itinerary included Sea Days cruising the Inside Passage, a stop at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, cruising into Tracy Arm Fjord up to the face of the Sawyer Glacier, back down the Inside Passage and a final stop at Victoria, British Columbia, before arriving back in Seattle.  Sherb and I both have relatives lining in the area we wanted to visit before heading back home.


Seattle from the ship Rhapsody of the Seas. Note the small sea plane heading to land on Lake Washington just to the left of the tallest building

Almost to Juneau, Alaska

Bridge over the Gastineau Channel at Juneau

Celebrity Millennium at Juneau

Our ship and the Celebrity ship were visiting at the very end of the season for visitors coming to Alaska.  The population of the city drops precipitously during the 9 winter months.  Summer workers leave in great numbers and the city goes into a long, boring hibernation during the winter.




The local area and ice fields near Juneau

Public art & sculpture near Juneau's waterfront

My friend Sherb in downtown Juneau


Downtown Juneau.

Note how the city is squeezed between the channel and the steep mountain slopes. Much of the city is located directly below avalanche chutes. 

Juneau, Alaska with aerial tramway car in the background








 
The Red Dog Saloon and Mercantile

Entertainment is served. The Red Dog Saloon has a great pulled pork sandwich.



Wyatt Earp checked his pistol in at the US Marshall's office on his way to Nome, Alaska in 1900. His ship sailed out before the Marshall's office opened on June 29th, 1900.


Tour buses at the Mendenhall Glacier



Walkway to the visitor center.
Learn  more about the Mendenhall Glacier Click here


Moss growing on rock scoured by the glacier in the past - life goes on




Evidence of the glacier's enormous weight and force 


The visitor center. There are both a ramp and elevator for the disabled available.

Beautiful "Tlingit" Native American inspired design on a doorway



The Mendenhall Glacier
In the 1990's the glacier face retreated an average of 90 feet per year, In 2010, the glacier retreated over 400 feet. The ice field above the glacier is supplied by snow from the moisture brought to Southern Alaska by the Pacific Ocean's Japanese Current. As the snow packs down it becomes ice. The enormous weight of the deep ice fields follows the slope of the land, sliding slowly down hill carrying rocks and gravel which scour "U" shaped valleys on their flow down hill.


As the glacier flows over uneven ground, the ice fractures into crevices and jumbled seracs.


Dirty ice, loaded with pulverized rock at the face of the glacier



Photo through the visitor center's telescope



Posting of activity at the glacier's face









Can you spot the "telltale vegetation ring"? See the photo above for explanation.


The glacier is not only a conveyor of rocks - it is a grinder of rocks. Some stone is ground down finer than powdered sugar as the weight of the moving ice scours its path. The fine stone particles give the melt lake and out flowing streams their light "milky" colors.  The visitor center displays samples of the small gravel down to rock powder.






Stuffed black bear at the visitor center.  Had he been from deeper in Canada or Alaska's interior - he would be called a grizzly bear.

Next time - Skagway & White Pass - one route to the Yukon Gold Rush

I will be on another one of my journeys starting tomorrow until November 3rd. I will continue bogging about my Alaska trip upon my return.  

Where am I going you ask?  To the South Seas and "down under, Mate, down under!" 


Please click the colored link to view my other blog about living in Hawaii "Life in the 50th State"

Please give me photo credits if you use or share my photos for non-commercial use.

I use a Canon G-11 digital camera on a mono pod - usually without flash

Please contact me at traveleral@aol.com should you need to use my photos commercially. Larger, digital files of my photos are available.

I encourage you to share this blog with your family and friends.

Your comments and criticisms are my reward for the effort to do this blog – they are appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my travels.