All Aboard!

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.

Enough of the history lesson. Plenty more on the Wikipedia page and the company website.

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?

At Skagway, they had their snow blower on display. We’ll start with a few views of that.

P1030950 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1030952 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1030956 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1030957 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

The new station at Skagway…

P1030962 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

A few of the “famous” Class 90 locomotives…

P1030989 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1030991 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1030993 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1030997 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr
… some of their ALCOs…

P1040001 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

How about a caboose?

P1040003 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

The shops at Skagway

P1040046 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

More ALCOs…

P1040057 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040058 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

A MOW speeder, about to head off for a day’s work…

P1040064 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

WP&YR #52, the very first WP&YR loco… not going anywhere for a while…

P1040069 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr
(but they do have plans to restore it)

Some scenery…

P1040121 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040131 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040138 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

More scenery…


P1040166 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

They keep this water tanker up the line to refill the steam engines when they use them…

P1040176 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040179 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040194 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040225 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

The old steel cantilever bridge

P1040248 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040253 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

At the summit of White Pass…

P1040275 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040296 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040303 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

The station at Fraser, where we cleared Customs

P1040304 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr


P1040306 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

Lake Bennett

P1040358 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

Bennett Station

P1040373 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

The old church at Bennett… the only remaining building from the gold rush days…

P1040378 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

Traveling along Lake Bennett… 27 miles of this!

P1040516 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

The bridge into Carcross

P1040533 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

Carcross station

P1040551 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

Rhiannon, our tour guide, waves goodbye!

P1040544 by BGTwinDad, on Flickr

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!

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