September 10, 2003--Skagway
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Right next to the ship, a White Pass & Yukon Railroad train was waiting but we found out later that our train was to boarded in town instead (about half a mile away). The cars were similar to those shown in photos 440-442.
While browsing through town before our rail trip, we came across the Red Onion Saloon (445), a place we would visit again at the end of the day. We also walked by the Arctic Brotherhood Hall which has a facade constructed of more than 20,000 pieces of driftwood collected from local tidal flats (446 and 514). This is supposedly the most photographed building in Alaska. While wandering around town, we also encountered the gadget in photo 449 which at one time was used to clear snow from the tracks of the railroad.
At last, we were ready to go and began our slow ascent up the mountain (451-496). We thought some of the scenery on this rail trip rivaled that of the Canadian Rockies. This railroad was designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1994, one of only 36 designees in the world which include others such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Panama Canal. The route climbs from sea level to 3,000 feet in only twenty+ miles at grades of about 4% (twice the usual railroad maximum). This is a narrow gauge railroad with the rails three feet apart. Before the railroad, men traversed the trail carrying huge amounts of supplies to reach the White Pass Summit, enter Canada and go onward to seek fortunes in the goldfields. The railroad was completed around the beginning of the twentieth century and made the journey much easier to transport supplies to the top and bring gold back.
From the summit (at about mile 20 of the route) to Fraser, British Columbia (about mile 27), the scenery changed dramatically (492-496). At Fraser, we left the train and switched to a bus for the downward trek. On the bus, our next stop was Liarsville, a re-creation of a gold rush trail camp. At Liarsville, we saw a beautiful Alaskan Malamute (507-508) and were entertained there by a show (509-512), panning for a few flakes of gold (513) and had a great salmon feast in the woods later.
Finally, our last stop was back at the Red Onion Saloon (445) where we visited the upstairs brothel and had a glass of the local brew while the madam told us about the history of the establishment.
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