Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

Day 735

     We are now traveling down the Alcan (Alaska Highway) toward Dawson Creek, British Columbia. We were going to take a different route for a change, but there is only one road, and we are on it.

     We will be here only one night, as well as one night on our next stop. If you recall, Watson Lake is where the sign forest is located (see day 690).

     Because the sign forest was so interesting, we went there again today.

Technical Stuff:

Whitehorse, Yukon to Watson Lake, Yukon: 266.5 miles

5 hours 14 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $1.49 Canadian /liter

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Day 734

     The primary means of transportation for those living in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada, is dog sleds and snow mobiles (here they are called snow machines) in the winter, and All Terrain Vehicles, when no snow is on the ground. Since we have already ridden dog sleds and snow mobiles, the only thing left is ATVs.

     We had a choice: ride along the meandering river to fish lake, or ride to the top of a mountain to view the lake. Those who regularly view this blog know the answer.

     Round trip was about 25 kilometers

     Took just under 3 hours

Technical Stuff:

Pelly Crossing, Yukon to Whitehorse, Yukon: 181.2 miles

4 hours 10 minutes

9.8 MPG

Diesel: $3.45

Pelly Crossing, Yukon Territory

Day 733

     Pelly Crossing, Yukon Territory,  did not come into existence until 1950 when the Selkirk First Nation Community (we call them native Americans, or Indians) was established as a ferry crossing and a highway construction camp during the building of the Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

     This place is actually smaller than Chicken, Alaska. Chicken had 4 buildings, here there are two, in addition to this storage shack.storage

     Because of all the animals (particularly bears), food could not be stored at ground level. These shacks were built for food storage. The metal rings are to keep rodents from climbing up. 

    We are staying in a forrest, with places to park RVs. No hook-ups at all (no electric, no sewer, no water). We use our batteries for power, and our generator to charge the batteries.

     Aren’t we just like the Indians, we fold our tent and move to the next camp?

Technical Stuff:

Dawson City, Yukon to Pelly Crossing, Yukon: 153.0 miles

3 hours 59 minutes

9.3 MPG

Diesel: $3.30

Dawson City, Yukon

Day 731

     Traveling from Chicken, Alaska, to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, we took the only road, the Top of The World Highway. It was 100 miles of dirt road through the mountains. It really was the “Top of the World”.

     We came across a heard of caribou.

     We then had to stop as a bear meandered down the road.

     Arriving at the Yukon River, we found there was no bridge to cross the river. We had to floated the truck and the Sphinx on a ferry to get to Dawson City on the other side.

     On August 16, 1896 prospector George Carmack stumbles across gold while salmon fishing along the Klondike River in the Yukon, starting the Klondike Gold Rush.

     Joseph Francis Ladue was born July 28, 1855  in Schuyler Falls, New York. On August 19, 1896, a few days after the discovery of gold in the Klondike, he staked a claim to 160 acres of boggy flats at the mouth of the Klondike River as a townsite. In January 1897, he named the new town Dawson, after Canadian geologist George Mercer Dawson. Dawson Creek, British Columbia (Day 683), was also named for him. 

     Dawson City became the hub for those arriving to search for gold. Shortly thereafter, the North West Mounted Police arrived to maintain law and order. The first thing the Government did was construct an elaborate government building. This building was constructed to show the United States that Dawson City belonged to the British Empire. The boundary line between Alaska and the Yukon had not yet been drawn. 

     Dawson was incorporated as a city in 1902. Today, over 116 years later, the streets are still dirt,

     and the sidewalks are still boards. 

     All and all, it was an uneventful day.

Technical Stuff:

Chicken, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon Territory: 110.5 miles

4 hours 57 minutes

7.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.45

Chicken, Alaska

Day 730

       The road to Chicken

     Chicken is a community founded in 1886 as gold miners came here to pan for gold along the 40 mile river. Prospectors named the river 40 mile, which is the distance of the river’s mouth from Fort Reliance, a former Hudson’s Bay Company post upstream along the Yukon River.

     For several years, the 40 mile mining district was the richest gold mining country in the area. Ten years later, in 1896, many left to seek their fortune in the great Klondike Gold Rush.

     Nevertheless, Chicken is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska. It’s population today is 17. People still come here to pan for gold. 

     In 1902 the local post office was established requiring a community name. Due to the prevalence of ptarmigan in the area (the ptarmigan is a medium-sized game bird in the grouse family), that name was suggested as the official name for the new community. However, the spelling could not be agreed on and Chicken was used to avoid embarrassment.

     In the wintertime, the population of Chicken drops to 7.

     I want to show you a panorama of the town of Chicken. Oh, that is the panorama. How about an arial view?

     We walked to the suburbs of Chicken to see the housing.

     Our property taxes are due at the end of the month. We will cross the Canadian Border to the Yukon tomorrow, therefore we went to the Chicken Post Office (the one established in 1902) to mail our checks.

      When you go to your local post office there is a notice that mail will be picked up at 10:00 o’clock, 2:00 o’clock, etc., in Chicken, it is picked up on Tuesdays. Since there are no highways here (in fact, the only road in and out of Chicken is the one we took), mail is delivered by plane, like the one we took on day 705.

     In ladies outhouse behind post office

     At one time this building was a school house. Today it is the community center of Chicken.

     With a population of 17, it doesn’t have to be very big. 

     It does have central heat. 

     This door was off it’s hinges, inside.

     They spare no expense in Chicken. This is their amphitheater.

Technical Stuff:

Tox, Alaska to Chicken, Alaska: 79.4 miles

2 hours 13 minutes

8.5 MPG

Diesel: $3.45

Tok, Alaska

Day 729

     Since there are very few highways in the State of Alaska, we have to travel the same route over again. We want to go from Valdez, Alaska, to Chicken, Alaska. (Now, this is a really remote place. You have probably never heard of it). To do so, we have to backtrack on the Richardson Highway. We traveled 251 miles today back to Tox, Alaska (see Day 699), and will travel the rest of the way to Chicken tomorrow. Although it is only 77 more miles, it will take us over 2 hours because it is a winding road through the mountains, with sharp curves and switchbacks, some of which are not paved, and with lots of “frost heaves”. 

     There is no sewer, water, cell phone or internet in Chicken, Alaska. Other than the dirt road we will be coming in on (which goes up steep mountain passes, with no guard rails) there are no roads. So, I might be out of contact for a while. You won’t know if I am dead or alive. 

Technical Stuff:

Valdez, Alaska to Tox, Alaska: 251.1 miles

5 hours 4 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $3.45

Valdez, Alaska

Day 726

     In traveling from Glenallen to Valdez, we stopped to view a glacier

     and a waterfalls

     The port of Valdez was named in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A scam to lure prospectors off the Klondike Gold Rush trail led to the town being developed there in 1898.

     Some steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail as a better route for miners to reach the Klondike gold fields than that from Skagway. The prospectors who believed the promotion found that they had been deceived. The glacier trail was twice as long and steep as reported, and many men died attempting the crossing. The deception was promoted because the steamship companies where returning to Valdez empty from delivering their fish from the port.

     Finding themselves stranded in Valdez, they settled there. However the town did not flourish until after the construction of the Richardson Highway in 1899, which connected Valdez and Fairbanks. With a new road and its ice-free port, Valdez became permanently established as the first overland supply route into the interior of Alaska. This was further enhanced when Valdez found itself the terminus of the Alaskan Pipeline.

     The Valdez fire department had a unique tribute to 9-11

     We went to Valdez Port to board a catamaran to take us to the Meares Glacier, which is on the Prince William Sound.

     Barbara was an able pilot

     On the way we saw eagles


     Sea lions

     Sea Otters

     Some of them brought their kids along


     In fact, lots of seals


     Pigeon Guillemot

     You are probably impressed that I can name these birds. Actually, I have a book, Birds of North America, that helps me. 

     I am glad we are not the Titanic

    We saw whales, both humpback

     and orca

    The glacier is named for eighteenth century British naval captain John Meares.

     Meares Glacier is over a mile wide where it meets Prince William Sound.

     Tidbit of Information: There are over 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, only 800 have names. 

     Valdez is the terminus of the Alaska Pipeline

     Oil tankers come in and go out each day

     I am just a shadow of my former self

Technical Stuff:

Glenallen, Alaska to Valdez, Alaska: 117.3 miles

2 hours 48 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $3.30