Skagway: A Gateway

Skagway means the windy place. With only 27 inches of moisture a year, Skagway is known as the sunshine capital of southeast Alaska. Its soil is rich and with the summer hours of the long daylight or Midnight sun, visitors will be surprised at the enormous growth of vegetation and flowers. The height of the gold rush had barely passed when the local residents exercised their green thumbs. By 1905, the White Pass railroad’s brochure proclaimed the beauty of Skagway’s flowers and prolific gardens.

The city had its history of brothels in its day. In 1898, on the corner of 6th and State, the Red Onion Saloon was a dance hall and bordello. It was moved later to Broadway. On some of the side streets, you can visit some of the old Red Light district areas. Not far from there, is a historic log cabin built by Captain William Moore and his son. He had followed gold rushes and settled there. He prospered, after the flood of gold seekers, by owning a dock, warehouse, and a sawmill.

Another interesting building is the Artic Brotherhood Hall. The old lodge members had collected 8, 800 pieces of driftwood and nailed them to the front wall. The building is now the home of the Visitors Bureau.

The Golden North Hotel is said to be haunted. Its famous resident, Mary was a woman  that succumbed to pneumonia in room 23 while waiting for her fiancé to return with gold. Guests claim to see her spirit in the room and feel a sensation of choking.

During the Gold Rush, criminals and con artists set up shop. One of the most notorious was “Soapy” Smith. He erected a fake telegraph company and charged $5.00 to send a message. The scam was the wire never left Skagway. The Klondike Gold Rush lasted just a few short years, but it made Skagway a bustling boomtown. No matter where you go in this town, you’ll feel like you are stepping back in time with its wooden sidewalks and  storefronts in a colorful picture of its past.

Not talked about for some unknown reason is a small creek park before you walk into the main drag of the city. In July and August, you can see the salmon jumping about as they are in the process of spawning. It’s a great wonder to watch. I highly recommend visiting this town.

 

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