Skagway: 10th May 2016
The train stopped just outside Skagway; there didn’t seem to be a railway station as such. I think there was a shuttle bus laid on to take us back to the ship, but we had plenty of time in hand, and the town is fairly compact, so we decided to walk.
Skaqua, as it used to be known, means ‘windy place’, and it was once used by First Nations people for hunting and fishing. But then, in the 1880s, the cry went up ‘There’s gold in them thar hills!’ The population of the quiet village swelled dramatically, for it was not far from the Chilkoot Trail, a traditional Native American trading route, which was a convenient way to get to the goldfields of the Yukon, and it was here that the prospectors would land.
Whether Skagway lay in Alaska or Canada wasn’t settled until 1903, when the present border was established … you may remember that we passed the two flags marking it on the train.
Most of the buildings we passed have been well preserved … although they now sell goods and services more suited to modern tastes. Gone are the trading posts, brothels and saloons; it is said that such places made more money from the gold rush than prospectors ever did. But, the atmosphere still remains … we didn’t actually see anyone being thrown through the saloon window, but wouldn’t have been surprised if we did.
So, it was back to the ship, moored under a cliff, with a snow-covered mountain backdrop. No cheerless, concrete cruise terminal here’ just another excellent photo opportunity