Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 4: Skagway

What's the line about a quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem? That is not Skagway. Sorry, if that's what you were hoping for you'll have to wait until Juneau tomorrow. Skagway was a lot of fun. Heather and I left Cam to his own devices in the morning, and ventured out to Skagway's main drag. Unfortunately we did not bring a camera because there is a gigantic Mickey on the bow of the ship and it looked like it had a black eye. When we got back to the boat there were crew men on a lift repairing the paint job. Too bad.

Skagway was the jumping off point to the Yukon gold fields during the gold rush. Folks would come up by ferry from Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, etc, and get off in Skagway. Then they would make there way up White Pass to the Yukon territory and the gold fields there. I could go on and on about Skagways history, or you could just go here. Our tour guide told us that Skagway has 1 supermarket, 1 bank, 1 health clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner, and 26 jewelery stores. The population of Skagway is listed at 862, and they have more than 900,000 tourists pass through every year. It's a huge port of call for cruise ships sailing through Alaska.

We headed back to pick Cam up and have lunch. Our city bus tour in the afternoon took us to Liarsville which was just outside of Skagway. It's on the spot of a giant tent city that was there at the beginning of the 20th century. At it's peak there were 20,000 people living in tents in Liarsville. The story behind the name is supposed to be that newspapers from big cities in the United States and Canada would send reporters to report on the gold fields in the Yukon. Well the reporters would make it as far as Skagway, take one look at the slope leading up to White Pass and decide maybe staying put would be the better choice. These reporters needed to file stories about the Yukon and gold and so they wrote about how easy it was to get to the gold fields, and how easy it was to pull the gold out of those claims. These stories would be published back in 'civilization' and inspire hundreds and thousands of people to rush up to Alaska to claim their stake. They would get to Skagway, take one look at the slope leading up to White Pass and say "where are the liars who said this would be easy?" People would point them to the tent city where the reporters could still be found.

While we were at Liarsville we did some gold panning. They promised gold in every pan. They should know, because they put gold in every pan. They travel to Canada to buy the gold and bring it back to Skagway to satisfy us poor tourists. It's the most gold Skagway has ever seen (outside of the 26 jewelry stores) since gold was never found in Skagway.

Is there a trick to panning for gold? Why yes there is, and I don't know it. I did come across a couple of flakes that I got to put in a completely authentic, antique, made in 1900, ziploc baggie. Very classy! I think the haul was worth all of  a penny and a half.

We did take a couple of more pictures on the way back to the ship that I'd like to share:

After a pleasant dinner at Parrot Cay we came back to our room to find the beds turned down, and origami characters. I'm going to try and remember to talk more about the towel animals. Those room stewards do a fantastic job.

Tonight we sail, and tomorrow we make landfall in Juneau AK.


  1. Please, tell me you rented a pack pig.

  2. We thought a pack pig might be overkill for a city bus tour.