Skagway: 10th May 2016
The next leg of our trip took us out of the Yukon Territory into British Columbia where, at Fraser, beside yet another beautiful and photogenic lake, the train awaited us. This was the same one we had seen at Skagway earlier, with old ‘cowboy train’ carriages, with an open platform at each end, drawn by two vintage diesel locos, in distinctive green and yellow livery,
The story really began in the 1890s, when gold was discovered in the Yukon Territory. Tens of thousands of hopefuls took the arduous trek from Skagway through the mountains to the goldfields. Of course, people began to try and think of easier ways to get up there, and, in 1898, the construction of a narrow-gauge railway began.
The 3-foot gauge was adopted because of the tight turns involved in negotiating the mountains; it also meant lower construction costs. The line reached Carcross in 1900, but most of the gold was now mined by large corporations, rather than individual prospectors. But, the railway was still used to carry ore down to the port at Skagway.
The line closed in 1982, because of a world slump in metal prices, but re-opened again, as a tourist attraction only six years later.
This, I think is the best scenic rail ride I’ve ever been on … but, I say that about most of them. If I was to ride the Kuranda or the Otofen again, they might become No. 1 on my list yet again!
The tight turns certainly helped a great deal in getting good photos ‘of the train from the train’, and the fact that we were allowed on to the open platform at the end was great for photographing and video-ing the stunning scenery we passed through.
The White Pass Summit (named for Canadian Minister of the Interior Sir Thomas White, not because it’s white … although the snow might make you think differently) is the border between Canada and the USA, and the flags of the two respective nations mark it. And, that’s the easiest entry I’ve ever made to the US … and official just walked along the train, requesting passengers to hold up their passports open at the photo page.