|Explore North America United States Alaska|
Skagway is one of the most popular ports of call with Alaskan cruises. The July 2009 week we were there saw 29 cruise ships in port, carrying more than 75,000 visitors. Things have changed a lot in the last 100 years!
Thanks to the gold rush of 1896, within just one year Skagway became the largest city in population in the entire United States. Twenty thousand people , mostly gold prospectors, poured in to find their riches. With one church and 80 saloons, it was a very rough town.
But there wasn't any gold in Skagway. The gold was 600 miles north, around Dawson City, however most people came through Skagway to get there. Almost 100,000 men and women came here on ships, mostly from San Francisco. They came in such droves they were called Stampeders.
They didn't know that most of the good sites had already been taken before they even boarded those ships back in San Francisco.
But they came anyway. Perhaps 1000 found gold, and maybe 100 became rich. Most of these Stampeders found nothing but a terrible journey and worse experiences.
I'll tell you about it as we take a train ride. We'll take the same route many of the gold seekers took, but they didn't get to ride. They had to walk. And the first 20 miles of that 600 mile trek were all up hill.
article published 8/16/2009