On the first Saturday of the trip, we hit the second “big event” of our visit to Alaska… the 67 mile train ride from Skagway to Carcross on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. The route takes you up the river valley, over the White Pass, through the alien landscape at the border, and then along Lake Bennett to its destination of Carcross at the north end of the lake. I’ve struggled with this post, because I only took 600 or so photos along the way, and I’m not sure how best to cull that down to a handful that tell the story.
The White Pass and Yukon Route railway was constructed between 1898-1900 from Skagway, AK to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to provide an easier route for the thousands of miners in the Klondike Gold Rush. It is a 3-foot narrow gauge railway, and it has been in continuous operation ever since, except for a brief period 1982-1988. It now serves only passengers, and only goes as far as Carcross, YT, but the management is actively studying adding freight traffic and expanding to Whitehorse.
We took the long ride from Skagway to Carcross. It’s 67.1 miles and took pretty much all day. I didn’t really look at my watch. We started at 8:00 AM and stopped for an early lunch around 10:30 or 11:00 at Bennett, beside Lake Bennett. Lunch was a hearty Mulligan Stew (with beef instead of lamb), mashed potatoes, green beans, and a mixed berry pie. After an hour or so at Bennett (during which we could explore the area), we continued on to Carcross, where we disembarked and boarded a tour bus for the return trip to Skagway. We also had a brief stop at Fraser to clear Canadian Customs. If you go, don’t forget your passport. You’ll need it.
The scenery along the route is nothing short of astounding, and my photos hardly do it justice. There was a bit of fog around the pass itself, which I’m told is common, but by Bennett, it was clear and bright and comfortably warm (around 70F). It’s hard to imagine having to cross that ground on foot.
OK, how about some pictures?
OK, that’s one seriously long post, and a lot of pictures. I hope you enjoyed it. I may follow up with another post containing more of the family pictures, and of course we’ve still got half the trip to go…
Next stop – Fairbanks!