Fox, Alaska

Day 701

     Established as a mining camp in the early 1900s, Fox, Alaska, functions as a bedroom community today and most residents work in nearby Fairbanks or at Fort Knox Gold Mine to the northeast.

     The first thing we did today was stop at a pull-out on the road to view up close the Alaska Pipeline. In 1968, oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. A consortium of oil companies determined that a pipeline offered the best means to transport the crude oil to a navigable port where it then could be shipped by tankers to the continental United States. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was established in 1970 to design, construct, operate and maintain the pipeline. It began moving oil in 1977. The 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System starts in Prudhoe Bay and terminates in Valdez, Alaska, the northernmost ice-free port in North America.

     We then went to Pioneer Village to board a train to take us to an old gold dredge site (dredging is no longer allowed in Alaska).

      When we got to the train, the conductor was fiddling around.

     Before commercial dredging, we learned how early pioneers removed gold from the river. Here they had a live re-enactment of gold panning using a “shaking machine”.

     A dredge is a self-contained floating gold recovery system that creates its own pond as it works.

     The dredge combines three basic principles of mining: digging, separation of gold from gravel, and disposal of tailings. An endless chain of steel dredge buckets digs the gravel and delivers it to machinery inside the dredge that separates the gold. 

         We then learned how to pan for gold. We were given a poke, a pan, and water.

     Look, we struck it rich

     Barbara jumped my claim, stole all my gold, and put it into a necklace.

     The necklace contains $34.00 of gold (I panned $15.00 and Barbara $19.00), about 11 grains of gold.

     We then went to a salmon bake. The entry to the all-you-can-eat bake was through a mine shaft.

     I had a good time.

     Finally, we went to the Palace Theater for an old time show. (This is our group of RV’ers. The leader ((Wagonmaster)) is the guy in the hat. The assistant ((Senior Scout)) is sitting next to Barbara):

     Old time saloon dancer

North Pole, Alaska

Day 700

     We have now been traveling in the Sphinx for 700 days. Today we are at the North Pole to visit with my friend, Santa Claus. 

     When we first arrived he wasn’t here. He told me that he was a little under the weather, as he has trouble adjusting to 24 hours of daylight. He is use to the 23 hours of darkness in the winter time, and, of course, on Christmas Eve, when he makes his deliveries around the world, it is always at night. But he did tell me I could sit in his chair until he arrived,

and Barbara could sit in Mrs. Claus’s chair.

     So, when you write those letters to Santa, where do they go? Why to the North Pole Post Office, of course. 

     Although, you would think the zip code would be 00000.

     Tidbit of Information: We are now at that time of year called the midnight sun. That is, the sun does not set until after midnight. Tonight it sets at 12:13 A.M. and will rise again in a couple of hours. Because of the short time between setting and rising, it is never really dark. In fact is seems like it is daylight 24 hours. Some in our group don’t like it, I think it is neat, although you don’t see the stars or moon. 

Technical Stuff:

Tok, Alaska to North Pole, Alaska: 199.2 Miles

4 hours 10 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $3.45

Tok, Alaska

Day 699

     Tok is the first major community you arrive as you cross from Canada to Alaska. The area was originally settled by Athabascan Indians who named the area Tok, meaning water.

     Not far from Tok is Delta Junction. This is where the Alcan ends. The road now continues, and is called Richardson Highway.

      Across the road from the marker was the Sullivan Roadhouse. John E. Sullivan was born in March, 1866 in Wisconsin. He worked as a merchant until June, 1895, when he headed north to Alaska to join the first stampeders to the Klondike to mine for gold. However, he found it was more profitable to operate a roadhouse. Roadhouses were springing up along the new roads being built to accommodate the prospectors looking for gold. He built this house himself. 

     Complete with kitchen 

     Living area

     They had a gentleman there, who might have been one of the original pioneers. He was able to answer all of our questions. For example, Klondike is a region and not a place. It lies around the Klondike River, a small river that enters the Yukon River from the east at Dawson City. The name “Klondike” evolved from the Athabascan word Tr’ondëk, which means “hammerstone water”. Early gold seekers found it difficult to pronounce the word, so “Klondike” was the result of this poor pronunciation.

     Of course, they had a gift shop there.

     And an ice-cream stand

     “Can I have the spool, when you finish?”

Technical Stuff:

Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory to Tok, Alaska: 242.8 miles

5 hours 40 minutes

10.0 MPG

Diesel: $1.32 Canadian/liter

Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory

Day 697

     Kluane Lake is located in the southwest area of the Yukon. It is the largest lake contained entirely within The Yukon Territory.

     Across from our campsite was a grissily bear and her two cubs.

     Finally, the bear said “no more photos”.

     We also saw mountain sheep high on the mountain ridge

Technical Stuff:

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory: 150.6 miles

3 hours 33 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $1.32 Canadian / liter

White Pass and Yukon Railroad

Day 696

Milepost 6611

     We took a bus ride from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fraiser, Yukon to catch the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, which will take us to Skagway, Alaska.

     Along the way we stopped at Emerald Lake.1

     The beautiful blue-green color of the lake is created by sunlight reflecting off a white layer of “marl” on the lake bed. Marl is a white calcium carbonate clay that forms in the water and settles unevenly on the lake bottom. 

    We also stopped at the Carcross Desert.2

     Of course, it is not a real desert, but it is called that to attract tourists. And here we are. It is really an ancient lake bed, now dried up as part of the glacial process. The Carcross Dunes are a rare habitat and one of only a few dune systems in northwestern North America. 3

     The town of Carcross (originally known as Caribou Crossing) was a railroad town for those building the White Pass Railroad. After the completion of the railroad, the town remained as a popular stopping place for prospectors going to and from the gold field.

     James “Skookum” Mason was an Alaskan native who found a gold nugget in Rabbit Creek in August of 1896 that began the Klondike Gold Rush. 

     The train line was born of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Construction started on May 27, 1898 and was completed July 29, 1900. It is a 110 mile narrow gauge railroad. It had to be narrow gauge to get through the thin mountain passes.4

     After the gold rush subsided, the line changed hands numerous times, finally, the White Pass Route was reopened between Skagway and Fraser in 1989, purely for tourist passenger traffic.6

     The narrow gauge railroad only has one track through the mountains. At each end, the engine goes from one end of the train to the other for the return trip. 5

     There were lots of water falls. 

      In taking these pictures, I had to make sure I did not stick my head out too far, or risk loosing my nose.7

     While Skagway use to be a quaint little town, giving the feeling of the goldrush era, today it is just a tourist trap. Nevertheless, the scenery on the bus ride back was magnificent.13

     We even saw our train returning taking the next group to Skagway. 14

Wildlife on the Alcan, Yukon Territory

Day 694

     WARNING: Some scenes in this post might be too graphic for young viewers. Parental discretion is advised.

     There is much wildlife to be seen in the Yukon Territory. Don’t be concerned for my safety, I used a telephoto lens.

     Moose

Ground Squirrels

Thinhorn SheepMuskoxMountain GoatsArctic FoxCaribouWe were fortune to see a Caribou give birth

     We waited for an hour to see the young calf stand up, but it got too late.That afterbirth sure tastes good

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

Day 693

Milepost 91

     Whitehorse is the capital and only city of The Yukon Territory. The city was named after the Rapids for their frothy resemblance to the mane of a white horse. The rapids no longer exist as the Whitehorse dam, constructed in 1957, submerged the rapids beneath the newly created Schwatka Lake.

     The city of Whitehorse developed as the transportation hub of the Klondike Gold Fields. For being the only city, and Capital, of the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse was not very impressive. We did see some interesting things, though:

     We went to a demonstration on how the gold miners panned for gold. 

    If you remember Day 120, we saw the tallest weathervane. Here is the world’s largest weather vane:

     It is a DC 3 built in 1942. After a distinguished career in the War and then in transport services, it was retired and is now on permanent display at the Whitehorse Airport. Pivoting on its mount, the aircraft always points into the wind. Wind speeds of as little as 5 mph will turn it. 

     The world’s largest wooden mounty sits in front of the Coast High Country Inn in Whitehorse. Technical Stuff:

Telsin, Yukon Territory to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory: 104.9 miles

2 hours 34 minutes

10.4 MPG

Diesel: $1.32 Canadian/liter