Friday, December 30, 2016

Town Map
To help you create and enjoy your own tour, Brenda of Southeast Tours has two fully designed tours that can be altered, rearranged, shortened or lengthened, and can incorporate any of the other tours SOUTHEAST TOURS offers. To book, contact Southeast Tours through the tab at the top. In the meantime, here are two ideas to help you understand the endless possibilities. 

1) Skagway and Surrounds
2) Highway to the Heartbeat of the Goldrush:
Skookum Jim 
and the Canadian Yukon.

no passport required
Let Brenda lift the veil of time and take you off the beaten trail to discover Skagway and Dyea, the gold rush towns of 1898. An estimated 100,000 stampeders pushed their way through these coastal wastelands during the worst winter on record, and entrepreneurs were at both sites to fleece the miners before they ever got started. "Mine the miners!" was the cry of the day, and only 20-30,000 made it over the mountains. Today Skagway still mines the miners--that would be you, the tourist--while Dyea, once a beach town, is now heavily forested due to glacial rebound. To give you a taste of possibilities and things to see, are a few spots Brenda can take you to. Just enough her to whet your appetite.

Moore Property
Almost all trace of the original Ben Moore homestead of 1885 is gone. However, Brenda can show you where the old baseball field and sawmill were--and explain how Ben and his dad's partnership with an English bank, necessary to develop the townsite, resulted in anarchy when the miners finally arrived, making "Mooresville"/Skagway the most violent town in American history.

Original Cabin and Moore Home
Tucked out of sight from the main drag is the original cabin, situated about 50' due west of its original location. Ben and his dad, Captain William Moore, erected the bare bones in the late 1880s, but never chinked the walls, put in a floor, or topped it off with a roof. They preferred their tent for the short periods of time they were able to get away and grub enough money to continue their work on the dock--a decidedly more important task because this was where the gold miners would swarm just as soon as the Yukon gold was found. Everyone knew it was up there--it was just a matter of time. Not until Ben moved permanently to "Moorseville" in 1895 with his wife and two young children did he bother to finish the cabin. When the miners finally arrived late 1897, this is when Ben began to build a proper home for his family. He pitched it right in front of the cabin.

Kirmse's Clock
Picture Skagway in 1897. The population went from a handful to 10,000 overnight. All the trees had to come down off the mountainsides to build the buildings--and to heat the buildings. The stony rock face became convenient billboards. When a miner put ashore, all he had to do was to look up and find what he needed: food, shelter, a pub, gambling hall--and watch repair. Today the trees have all grown back, but the NPS clears just a few  to expose the old Kirmse advertisement.

St. James Hotel
This tin-covered hotel that boasted the town's only insulated walls is the site of where the White Pass train nearly didn't happen. British banking and American contractors had been up and down the valley and on the night of April 10, 1898, decided that Captain William Moore's dream of a railroad through White Pass could not be built. But then in stumbled a stranger. Michael J. Heney had built the Canadian Pacific RR, Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. He was a man who knew how to build a train track through tough terrain. On a whim, one of the bankers asked the night clerk who the stranger was. Upon finding out, he sent the night clerk up to invite the man downstairs for a pint. The rest, they say, is history.

Pullen House
All that's left of the Pullen House is the chimney, an unmarked stone, and a grave. A great place to picnic while hearing the story of Ma Pullen, her rise from bankruptcy in WA State to wealthy entrepreneur. Nearby is the $2 museum for anyone interested, a walking trail over Pullen Creek to a public restroom and Molly Walsh Park. From here, Brenda can take you out to the Gold Rush Cemetery, city overlook, and along a winding, scenic road to the Chilkook Trailhead and Dyea. The chances to see wildlife include eagles, hooligan fish, seals, otters, grizzlies, black bears, salmon, arctic terns, and shipwreck. Photo-ops are good no matter the weather.