Wednesday, September 4, 2013

adventure of alaskan proportions: skagway

So, where was I? On Tuesday the ship docked in Skagway, where we had signed up for a three hour White Pass train ride. I thought I'd be bored but I have to say it was one of my favorite activities for the entire trip. It was a 41-mile roundtrip ride with a 2.888-foot elevation. Neat, huh?

Skagway was a gold rush town, and prospectors would take the White Pass route into the Yukon. We learned that it was heavily publicized in the lower 48 as being an easy hike to the Yukon. So men would pack up their belongings, and their families only to arrive in Skagway and other such towns to realize that it was nearly impossible to cross. They'd leave the women behind to fend for themselves, and many turned to the very lucrative profession of prostitution. More to come on that..

I don't even know how I'm supposed to pick only a few favorite photos from the train ride. I took over a hundred and probably could have taken twice that. The views were absolutely breathtaking and the pictures hardly do the landscape any justice.





 


After the train ride, we went back to the ship to eat, and to change. We were lucky to have beautiful weather in Skagway (as we did in Juneau) and decided it was acceptable to break out some tank tops. Incredible, right? Lu had heard from another passenger that there was a "Ghosts and Good Time Gals" tour, and since she's a burlesque-dancin', ghost story lovin' gal, it was decided that it would be our second, and last, activity in Skagway. 

The walking tour, which ended at the Red Onion Saloon, a former brothel, took us through the red light district of Skagway. We learned that life for women in Gold Rush towns wasn't always easy, though it could sometimes be extremely profitable. As I mentioned earlier, many women would be left behind in towns such as Skagway with no means to take care of themselves. The cost of living was such that they would barely be able to make ends meet as a laundress or shop worker. Prostitution was much more lucrative, especially if they were able to find work in one of the nicer brothels. At the end of the Gold Rush of 1898, some of the most affluent people in these towns were women. Get it, gurls. 
Skagway was an awesome little town. We learned on the tour that Main Street has never had any major fires, so many of the buildings are what was built before and during the Gold Rush of 1898. It leaves you feeling as though you're in a the place that time forgot, something you don't get to experience too much when you live in a big city.

Peace out Skagway! Still to come.. sailing through Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC! Here's one of my favorite sunset pictures from the trip (and believe me, I took a lot of those):



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