Day 119/ White Pass Train Day 120/Gold Dredge

Trip Start May 01, 2013
Trip End May 01, 2014

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Where I stayed
Pullen Creek RV Park

Flag of United States  , Alaska
Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 119 - Today we took the White Pass Train up the mountain, following the route that the Klondike gold miners followed.  We climbed 2900 feet over the town of Skagway.  It was a narrated tour, so we learned a lot of how this railroad was built.  Let me just say the men of this era were a very strong lot.  A total of 3,500 men worked in putting the rail lines up this mountain. Thirty-five died!  Considering the pitfalls of this endeavor, it's amazing there weren't a huge amount more. Two of the men we heard about (and we saw the grave marker) were crushed in an accident by a huge boulder that went astray during blasting. The train ride up is $160/person, but the town gives back to Skagway in a big way including a new hospital, road improvements and possibly even the large new library they have there.

We pass over some very old wooden bridges and see one that is (thankfully) no longer in service. This one spans a deep gorge, and how they managed that back in the 1890's is far beyond me.  One of these bridges - a steel cantilever bridge - was designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1994.  It shares this honor with the Eiffel Tower; Statue of Liberty and the Panama Canal.  A

The weather was not perfect, but the ride was fun - although a bit scary at times with the drop offs. Nick didn't particularly like it since he doesn't like heights.  

My Disney buddies will appreciate that someone had placed a Mickey Mouse figurine about 8" tall on a large rock.  I was already by it before I noticed it or you know I would have taken a picture of that!!!

Being that Skagway is on the water, the temperatures rarely go below 0 and the average temp in the summer is around 58 degrees - BUT they do get a lot of snow.  Given the fact that many of the places in Alaska go to minus 50 degrees I guess that is a good thing.  People make it a point to tell you that it is a dry snow!  And your point is....????

Day 120 - Skagway - Today is a beautiful sunny day and the mountains surrounding the water with their glaciers are just gorgeous.  We are off the the Klondike Gold Dredge for a delicious dinner, tour of the dredge and some gold panning.  I got a little, but I'm sure I'm only at $50 and maybe less than that!  I won't quit my day job for that - oh, wait - I don't HAVE a day job!!!

Part of our tour of the gold dredge was also a meeting with an Ididarod musher who has raced seven times.  His name was Matt and he was fantastic to listen to.  I get why you would run it once - for the thrill - but more than that you would be downright crazy.  After he told us all that you did both in preparation, care and upbringing and training of the dogs, sending supplies ahead and racing 1000 miles in the freezing cold you have to wonder.  I guess it gets in their blood like any other sport.  They race the dogs for 6 hours then stop to feed them and they get this massage for  their feet - 16 dogs x 4 - you do the math!  Thats a lot of little feet. The dogs do wear booties to help so that the snow doesn't get in between their pads.   They then put coats on them and some have pockets in them around there shoulders where the put hand warmers in them to help the dogs muscles. They get about three hours of sleep and then back up racing.  No rest for the weary.  There were a few men who were in costume - one did the dredge tour and the other read several poems from Robert Service whom we learned about back in Dawson City.

 Enjoy our day.
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Caroline Jenkins on

I'm with Nick -I don't like heights, but once you get there the pictures are mighty nice!

Claudia on

Sandy, you are an amazing writer. Dick and I took the same train ride. I don't remember even half of the details you wrote about! Way to go girl!!

Pamela on

What a fun tour. Those bridges looked a bit questionable though. Perhaps a couple shots of Klondike Moonshine would have helped settle Nick's nerves!!

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