Day 5 – Taking the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway in Skagway, AK

I dislike getting up early on my vacation, but we were scheduled to leave the ship at 7:45 a.m. Thursday morning.

After eating some pastries and drinking a cup of coffee, we were soon walking down the gangway. A fully restored 1927 bus was waiting to pick us up.

Our driver was loaded with facts and trivia about Skagway. She slowed down near each point of interest and gave us the history of that building. We learned that Warren G. Harding was the only sitting president to visit Skagway.

The house that Sarah Palin grew up in.
The house that Sarah Palin grew up in.

At the tail end of her trip, she pointed out the house that Sarah Palin lived in when she was growing up. When Tina Fey imitated her, she said that “[she] could see Russia from her house.”

Because the town is small, her tour was understandably brief. She then dropped us off with another driver, Mark, who would drive us to Bennett Lake  where we would board the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.

Our new driver and guide was quite the character. Born in New Orleans and raised in the San Fernando Valley, he opted to move to Skagway.

The Skagway campgrounds wanted $350 a month just for him to pitch a tent without utilities. Nevertheless, he moved up there and pitched his tent elsewhere.

Waterfall on the way to Canada

at the border between Alaska and Canada

Mark was on the lookout for wildlife and other interesting things for us to photograph. We pulled over at a couple of different waterfalls and view points. We went though Border Customs in Canada and eventually made it to our destination.

We were one of the last people to arrive and so we boarded the next to last passenger car. Despite the age of the passenger cars, they seemed well maintained and the windows were spotless.

Since there no cars that were completely open, I appreciated that they left the front and rear doors open during our trip.this allowed me to be outside and take some great shots on the passing scenery.

Commentary was provided on the train. We learned about the history of the Gold Rush and the impact of that it had on the people and the horses. Over 3,000 horses died during this time and the area became known as Dead Horse Trail.

We passed by numerous ponds and streams. Even some of the bridges are engineering marvels and one of them became a historical landmark. Our docent also called out each glacier my name.


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