Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Travel Tuesday - Skagway, Alaska

The Famous Red Onion Saloon, It was once a dance hall and bordello. We ate chili here but didn't go upstairs for the tour. I did buy myself a cute little tee from here and the waitresses wear dance hall outfits. Click on the picture and you can see one of the "girls" in the top window.

These cliffs are right next to the docks. They are 400 feet high and have paintings of names and ships logos. They were done by the crew of the visiting ships. I really don't know how they did some of these, some are really high up there. Some of the "paintings" are placed hundreds of feet up the cliff. Skagway officials have put a stop to the paintings. If you paint a rock you go to jail. That little train is the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.

Here I am in Skagway. If you look in the background you can see the false-fronted buildings and plank sidewalks that have been preserved. Click on the picture and look at the snow covered mountain in the background and look at the buildings and sidewalks.

Skagway is a town that has deep gold mining roots. It retains much of the flavor of those days when the gold-mad prospectors were there. At one point around 1897 it's population was 20,000, it is now around 850. There were some very notorious gold miners. One bad guy was Soapy Smith, he was a con man who did all kinds of nasty things. He conned people out of money any way he could. Frank Reid was one of Skagway's heroes. He shot Soapy Smith dead and then died himself in the gun fight. It really did sound like the wild west. Okay, I'm done with the history lesson but I thought this was really interesting.

We decided to walk around Skagway on our own. I thought the White Pass railway looked interesting but we were warn not to do it on a cloudy day because you would not see anything. I really wanted to go to the Gold Rush Cemetery but it was hike. We thought it was walkable but it is farther than it seems. The best thing is to go on one of the streetcars. Guides in period costumes will give you all of the history.

It was by far the coldest of all of our stops. I even saw snow flurries as we were walking. You can walk into town from the port, it is only about a five minute walk. I loved talking to the locals and we chatted with a young couple who owned a shop there. It seems to me everyone has a story about how they came to live in Alaska and I was always curious to why they were there and how they liked it. This young couple just fell in love with the place, but they did say they close up shop after September and move to Washington State. Actually most of the shops close after September and move to the Caribbean. They have no business coming in until the cruise ships come back in May.
Skagway with all of it's history and charm was alot of fun but it's on to Ketchikan next week. See you next Travel Tuesday!


Nunnie's Attic said...

That looks like such a fun place. I love the lore of the old west. I love anything old...

I'm so glad that I enlarged the picture of the store fronts. You are truly a beautiful woman, Joan. I knew that already of course by your sweet disposition but you're quite the looker aren't ya??


justabeachkat said...

Great photos! I'd sure like to visit there one day myself.


Counting Your Blessings said...

How interesting! I have a few blog friends from Alaska and I was surprise that they already have snow. ...ok I just read Julie's comment... I gotta go enlarge that photo. =) Blessings... Polly

Kari said...

Beautiful pictures and you look CUTE AS A BUG'S EAR!!! And I LOVE the history lessons, too. It makes it seem more real to me.
Glad you're back!

Kari said...

Hey - I forgot to say...GREAT BACKGROUND! I love it!

Karolee said...

I recently read "Alaska" by James Michner and remember reading about Soapy Smith and Skagway. What fun to see pictures of the place!

Katie said...

This is on the top of Matt's list for vacation/travel spots when he returns from Iraq. I guess it might be because of the vast difference in climates. We will have to chat about it. Thanks, once again, for a really interesting read!