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Skagway

Skagway

During the Klondike Gold Rush, starting in 1897 prospectors landed by steamship at Skagway or Dyea.  From Skagway, "stampeders" had to transport a year's worth of supplies over White Pass; Dyea was the trailhead for the Chilkoot Pass.  After con man "Soapy" Smith arrived in town, Skagway became increasingly lawless.  Smith was killed in a shootout in 1898 by Frank Reid, the town surveyor. 

Construction of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad from Skagway to Whitehorse also began in 1898, and was completed in 1900.  With the coming of the railroad, Dyea was abandoned and there's nothing much left to see, except the trail up the Chilkoot Pass.  Skagway preserves historic buildings and a gold rush cemetery.

Skagway Klondike Gold Rush Photo Album
  Visitor Center & Klondike National Historical Museum (2nd and Broadway) – For an introduction to the Klondike gold rush, start with the half hour movie.  Check out the full size diorama of a prospector with a year's worth of supplies (e.g. 150 lbs bacon, 400 lbs. flour, 125 lbs. beans, shovels, picks, gold pans, granite buckets, large tent), the wooden dog sled, and scale model of the mountain passes. Pick up the booklet for the Junior Ranger program in town. The Visitor Center is open May to September.

   

Moore Homestead – Before the Klondike Gold Rush, Captain William Moore and his son Ben homesteaded here, and built a wharf and sawmill. Look into into the wooden log cabin they built in 1887.

     

Ben Moore, married a Tlingit woman and had three children; the family lived in the large blue wooden house, which you can visit today. Each room of the house is chock full of Victorian furniture and decorations, as well as Tlingit artifacts such as furs and slippers.  A visit to the homestead is free.

   

Mollie Walsh Park (6th Ave., east of Broadway) – A block north from the Moore Homestead is a small park with picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground with swings and climbing structures.

 

Gold Rush Cemetery and Reid Falls – The Gold Rush Cemetery was our favorite spot in Skagway.  Both Soapy Smith (Jefferson R. Smith) and Frank Reid are buried here, as well as other people, most of whom died in 1898 and 1899 at the height of the gold rush.

    After you've inspected all the names on the wooden tombstones, take a short walk through the woods to Reid Falls, a lovely waterfall cascading down into a rocky creek.
   

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad  – Take a day trip on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.  The train crosses over bridges, through tunnels, taking hairpin turns, with spectacular views of mountains, glaciers and waterfalls. When you pass by Dead Horse Gulch, kids can see remains of the trail followed by the gold prospectors going to the Klondike.  There's also stop at Lake Bennett, where the prospectors assembled their boats to ride down the Yukon River to Dawson City.

     

Choose from two different excursions.  The first is a 3 hour ride. The train goes to White Pass, then turns around (before the Canadian border) and chugs back to Skagway. 

     

The second, "Yukon Adventure," is an all day excursion that goes from Skagway over White Pass to Lake Bennett in British Columbia, and then on to Carcross, returning to Skagway via bus. This excursion requires passports, as you cross the Canadian border.

      In Carcross, kids will want to stop into the Matthew Watson General Store for an ice cream – 24 different flavors. 
      Click here for the schedules.
   

Tip:  Klondike Gold Rush – If you have a car, Skagway is the starting point of the Klondike Highway. The highway follows the trail of the prospectors to Whitehose, and on to the final destination, Dawson City.

     

Driving on the  Klondike Highway through White Pass from Skagway to Whitehorse only takes a few hours, but the landscape can't fail to impress.  Even in summer, there's snow on the mountains and temperatures of 45 degrees.  Kids can easily imagine the hardships the prospectors endured to carry a ton of supplies through mountains that are inhospitable in any season.

kids books
     
Gold Rush Fever  
Gold Rush Fever
Barbara Greenwood, Heather Collins

Thirteen-year-old Tim and his brother come to strike it rich in the Yukon, climbing over the treacherous Chilkoot Pass, and boating down the Yukon River to Dawson City. Tim’s story is accompanied by historical information and photos, plus activities to do – make sourdough biscuits, carry a backpack, tie knots to load a mule, play solitaire to prevent cabin fever. (Illustrated chapter book)

 

     
Jason's Gold
Will Hobbs

In 1897, young Jason Hawthorn follows his brothers into the Klondike goldfields, carrying a thousand pound pack over the Chilkoot pass, and canoeing down the Yukon River to Dawson City. Nearly trampled by a moose, Jason is rescued by an old prospector, but will he survive the subarctic winter? (Chapter book)

 

 
Jason's Gold - kids books Canada
     
Mystery at Chilkoot Pass  
Mystery at Chilkoot Pass
Barbara Steiner

Hetty McKinley sails north with her dad and Uncle Donall, landing in Dyea.  Getting their supplies together to carry over the Chilkook Pass as winter descends is hard enough, but there's a thief in camp.  Hetty's determined to find out who's behind it.  Wonderful local color of the time. (Chapter book)

 

     
Crazy for Gold
Frieda Wishinsky

Whisked back in time to 1898, Emily and Matt land at the bottom of the Chilkoot Pass, where they join up with a family going to Dawson City, climb up over the snowy summit, sail a boat through the rapids, and unexpectedly find gold.  (Easy reader)

 

 
Crazy for Gold
     
The Klondike Cat  
The Klondike Cat
Julie Lawson, Paul Mombourquette

When Noah's dad sets out for the Klondike, Noah can't leave his cat, Shadow, behind.  Noah carries Shadow over the Chilkoot Pass in his backpack, but when they arrive in Dawson City, what's he going to do with her kittens?  Noah has an idea that worth its weight in gold.  (Picture book)

 

More children's books on other Alaska pages
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