If this is Wednesday it must be Skagway.
Skagway is a small city in southeast Alaska, with a population of 920 residents as of 2010 that is set along the popular cruise route, the Inside Passage. This city is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park that is home to many gold-rush-era buildings and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, finished in 1898 that runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot Trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb into Canada.
The gold rush was one of the main boom times for the city of Skagway as many prospectors unloaded from ships to trek 500 miles up into the gold fields of Canada. At one point the population of Skagway was 30,000, composed mainly of prospectors heading to their Eldorado. The other big boom time was during World War II as the military used Skagway’s port and the railroad to haul men and equipment to build a section of the Alaskan Highway between mainland USA and Alaska.
I start in front of the old Train Depot, which is now the National Park Service Visitor Center, and continue up Broadway (the main tourist street of town) past Jeff Smith’s Parlor that still looks as it did during the era of notorious Soapy Smith, 1897-1898. Passing the backwards 1898 Red Onion Saloon, the 1899 Arctic Brotherhood Building and the 1898 Golden North Hotel.
The Red Onion Saloon was moved to its present location in 1914 but was placed backwards with its front entrance to the rear in the relocation.
The Arctic Brotherhood Building’s façade dates from the 1900’s and is coated with over 8,800 pieces of driftwood nailed to the front wall.
Turning on 4th street at the tallest historic building in Skagway, the Pack Train Building, I head to Spring Street and then turn on 5th to visit the oldest structure in Skagway, the Moore Cabin. Built in 1887-1888. Moore prospered as he did not follow the gold seekers to Canada but owned a dock, warehouse and sawmill in Skagway, a Businessman in the oldest sense providing supplies and lumber to the residents and prospectors. During any Land Rush in North America the people who made the best living were the owners of buildings, saloons, stores and brothels as the prospectors needed supplies for further adventure and liquor and companionship to ward off the long days alone.
Walking back to Broadway I head away from the dock turning on 6th and head to a walking path for my visit to McCabe College. Built in 1899 of native granite the Methodist School was Alaska’s first institution of higher learning. It now houses the Skagway Museum.
Continuing away from the dock I turn on 7th to visit Skagway’s once thriving Red Light District.
Then its on to view some of the old historic residential area of Skagway. Turning on 7th to Alaska Street then on State Street to 8th then down Main to back toward the docks to 7th.
Turning back onto Alaska Street I head back to 6th then turn on Main to view the First Presbyterian Church built in 1901 by the Methodists and vacated in 1917. During the Gold Rush saloons and brothels were prevalent, as they were in any Gold Rush towns of the day, although there was only one church, the Union Church, until the early 1900’s when several other religious groups were making they’re way into town.
I head back to Broadway and visit several-crowded tourist shops to gather gifts for my grandkids; tourism being the main economy of Skagway today as there were 3 cruise ships in port with approximately 2,200 passengers each. 8 YO Audrey and 1 YO Bodie are easy to buy for but 11 YO Aaron is more difficult. Nothing strikes me as being him so I guess I’ll just check in our next town we visit in 2 days, Ketchikan.
Well it is 2PM so time to head back to the ship for lunch and ice cream. I have walked almost 18,000 steps, 6.1 miles and gone up 23 floors since I woke up this morning, a really good day but I am done, tired again. This 61 YO body can handle only so much in a day any more.
Sitting on the aft deck I contemplate my trip and feelings. The last 2 days have been difficult as the last 24 years I have had Jodi by my side during all of our travels, a true companion to share the adventures with. Family on this trip have been great and trying their best to be there for me but they can not stop me missing her at this point in my life. It has been only 2 ½ months since her passing but I will need more time and adventures to calm these feelings and get use to traveling alone again.
WHAT TO DO?
Relook at the bucket-list and re-prioritize when I return home.
So tomorrow is another cruise day as we head into Glacier Bay.