The Historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad

“Born in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the White Pass & Yukon Route is a rare story in the history of railroad building.” -All Aboard Magazine

Skagway, also referred to as the Garden City of Alaska, is located at the northern tip of Alaska’s Inside Passage, just 100 miles northeast of Gustavus. In 1900 when the city was established, the population reached 3,117 and was the second-largest settlement in Alaska. Now, Skagway’s year round residents almost double Gustavus at 850 people. It serves as restored gold rush town with a historical significance for tourists to experience, and is the headquarters of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

The History

In his search to find uncharted land into Interior Canada for a survey company, Captain William Moore was the first non-native settler in Skagway. He arrival in 1887 is credited with the discovery of the White Pass route into Interior Canada. Only nine years later in August, gold was discovered in the Klondike by George Carmack and two Indian companions, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie. By 1897, boatloads of prospectors made their way eagerly to this new opportunity. Not two months following those hopeful prospectors and dreamers, the landscape had grown into a lively city with a population of about 20,000.

Though the gold found by Carmack and his companions was a minimal amount, it triggered a massive movement and forever changed the course of history in Southeast Alaska.

Exploring the City

The city of Skagway prides itself on preserving its history. The main shopping street, Broadway Street, features building fronts similar to what you would have seen back in the 1890’s. A walking tour of various lengths can be taken to familiarize yourself with this delightful town. Several National Park Service Buildings help you learn about the gold rush and all the men endured with the hope of striking it rich.

If you have time be sure to head out to the Skagway cemetery. You will be able to see Frank Reid’s headstone inside the cemetery and “Soapy” Smith’s grave outside the cemetery. You don’t know the Reid/Smith story. No trip to Skagway is complete without learning about their gun battle and how it helped Skagway become a peaceful and quite town.

The Train Ride

When our guests go in the train they usually take the Summit Excursion up to White Pass and then back down to Skagway. The White Pass & Yukon Route climbs from sea level in Skagway to almost 3,000 feet at the summit. Imagine being on the same type of trains up the same route the gold miners were traveling in their search for gold.

REMEMBER: Weather in Southeast Alaska is unpredictable, and can present an obstacle to flights and activities. The Bear Track Inn is not responsible for any costs incurred or activities missed due to weather related delays. We highly recommend trip insurance.

Read more about the railroad here.