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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We even saw our train returning taking the next group to Skagway.
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
The Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post at Teslin, Yukon Territory, in 1903, named for the river of the same name. The name Teslin came from a Tlingit word “Teslintoo,” meaning “long narrow waters”, referring to Teslin Lake, which is 78 miles long. The population of this town is less than 500 people, and outside of the primitive campground we are staying, a general store, and gas station, there is nothing here. We are spending one night here and going on to Whitehorse tomorrow.
The Tlingit are the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, originally coming down from Alaska. They still live in this area as a result of a treaty.
We are camping on the shore of the Nisutlin Bay off the Teslin River.
To arrive here we crossed the Nisutlin Bay Bridge.
The Nisutlin Bay Bridge crosses Teslin Lake, Yukon Territory. The current Nisutlin Bay Bridge, built in 1956, is the third bridge to span the bay since the original construction of the Alaska Highway. It is two lanes wide and consists of seven metal through truss spans set on concrete piers. The roadway is composed of large opening, metal grating. Because of this, it was a little slippery to cross.
On our way here we went over 3 miles of unpaved road (under construction), it turned my truck brown.
Watson Lake, Yukon to Teslin, Yukon Territory: 161.2 miles
The Alaska Highway is endless miles with no civilization. Since this road was originally a military road, no communities sprang up, as there was no industry to support them. Once the war ended, the road continued to be improved as the only overland way to Alaska from the United States. Even tourism is not enough to support many communities on this road, as more and more people are flying to Alaska.
However, there is plenty of wildlife, like this bear climbing the wall to cross the highway:
There were plenty of Bison and their young,
And these two guys duking it out:
We find fuel at truck stops, and that is where most of the RV parks are on the highway.
Nevertheless, there are some fantastic views. And the countryside is breathtaking.
Since wildlife have the right of way, we do have to stop when we get to an intersection:
This bear just watched us. Probably no vehicles had come by for hours:
Another cool thing is that the sun rises at 4:30 in the morning and doesn’t set until 11:12 at night. And, can you believe, the Yukon Territory has daylight savings time?
As you can see from my “technical stuff” on the various posts, we are traveling up to 7 hours a day to reach our next destination. Generally, there are no campgrounds between stops.
The pods generally stop every couple of hours for nature’s necessities, ice cream.
Watson Lake is a town in The Yukon Territory, Canada, located at milepost 635 on the Alaska Highway, close to the British Columbia border. The town is named for Frank Watson, an American-born trapper and prospector, who settled in the area in the late 1800’s.
The Yukon Territory is the smallest and westernmost of Canada’s three federal territories (the other two are the Northwest Territories and Nunavut). Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon’s only city. European incursions into the area began early in the 1800’s with the fur trade, followed by missionaries. By the 1870s and 1880s gold miners began to arrive. The increased population coming with the gold rush in 1887 led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.
Tidbit of Information: The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces receive their power and authority from the British North America Act of 1867, whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the Parliament of Canada.
The name Yukon comes from the Gwich’in word Yu-kun-ah meaning “great river”.
In February 1943, a sign post pointing out the distances to various points along the Pioneer Road being built (The Alaska Highway) was damaged by a bulldozer. Private Carl K. Lindley, serving with the 341st Engineers, was ordered to repair the sign. When he finished that assigned job, he decided to paint the name of his hometown on a board and nail it to the same post. The sign read “Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles.” Other soldiers followed, and the tradition has continued for 75 years.
There are now 85,813 signs in the “Sign Post Forrest”.
Actually, as of today there are 85,814, as we added our sign.
Careful with our sign:
All of us together:
Liard Hot Springs, BC to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory: 128.8 miles