We left Whitehorse on June 7th and headed down Hwy 2, heading for Skagway. We will
visit the Skagway area and then take the ferry to Haines.
The name "Skagway" is derived from a Tlinget word meaning "end of salt water".
But that meaning is disputed and others such as "home of the north wind", "cruel
wind" and "rough water" are proposed. As one writer put it, "Skagway is a word
of uncertain meaning".
Skagway played a pivotal role in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898. During that
period of several months many thousands poured through this town on their way to
Dawson City and the Klondike gold fields more than 500 miles away. Things were
so difficult that less than half of those who arrived in Skagway actually made it
to the gold fields.
Skagway was a rough town in those days. It had more than 70 saloons, shootings
were common and the town was controlled by organized criminals. This was all cleaned
up when the railroad came to Skagway in 1900, too late for the gold rush.
It is only a three hour drive from Whitehorse to Skagway and the scenery along the
way, makes for a very nice drive. It follows along one of the routes that the "Stampeders"
took on their way to the Klondike gold fields. I don't suspect that they appreciated
the scenery in the same light as we do today.
Skagway is a small town with a year round population in the 800s. During the
summer it is a major tourist destination, primarily from cruise ships. It is not
uncommon to have eight or nine thousand tourists in town on any single day.
OFF TO HAINES
Our original plan called for us taking the ferry to Haines at 12:15am! Why? Because
that was the only one running when we wanted to go. It turned out much better, since
we were able to get a ferry at 7:15 pm instead. Well that was the schedule, but since
Skagway is so close to the Yukon it seems their observance of schedules is on "Yukon
Time". We didn't start loading until 6:45 and we left around 8pm. So what, it was bitter
cold because of the wind, and we were happy to be on our way to Haines.