Friday, July 15, 2011


We woke to find the sea filled with good-sized chunks of ice, some with seals aboard. The captain announced that the icy conditions ruled out our scheduled trip to the Hubbard Glacier. Though disappointed, the passengers made no complaint. We sailed out to sea and on to Skagway.

At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, prospectors entered the goldfields through Skagway. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, this frontier town sits at the head of the Taiya Inlet on the northern end of the Lynn Canal, a fjord on Alaska’s Inside Passage. Skagway derives its name from Schkagua, a native Alaskan Tlingit word meaning "Home of the North Wind." The wind blew nonstop as we strolled along the old-fashioned boardwalks, and the locals told us it does so every day of the year.

A Quick Walk into Town
Statue of Gold Rush Prospectors
Skagway's Main Street
The restored buildings look as they did in the late 1890s, when Skagway was the largest town in Alaska. A few saloons remain, but most of the businesses are geared toward tourism now. We visited several jewelry and souvenir stores and the museums tucked between them.

Wax Figures in a Saloon Museum
Nothing special in the jewelry stores, I thought. Then I spotted a display of ivory jewelry carved from woolly mammoth tusks. I had to ask about it, as I thought such relics would be in a museum. The store owner told me that mastodon and mammoth tusks still turn up everywhere in Alaska, most notably in river beds, where they pop out as the soil washes down. Depending on whether the tusks are found on private, public, or federal land, forms are filled out, the paleontologists have a look, and if they don’t want it, the finder of the tusk is free to dispose of it as he or she wishes.

A Mammoth Tusk
Next up: Juneau


  1. Friends are in Alaska right now and I am jealous! Sigh. Oh, well. Next year either Scotland or Ireland, or bust.

  2. Did you mean "both" instead of "bust"? :-) I know I'll visit Ireland again but I'd also like to go back to Edinburgh and see more of Scotland. Some day.

  3. I love Skagway! I miss it so. At first I thought the snow was in NH. Goodness, that wouldn't be good. Snow in Alaska... I can understand. It's raining cats and dogs here. Good thing I like animals.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Pat. What a honour it was. Take care.

    Hey, I once took a look at TOK and took off!

  4. Thanks for stopping by MY blog, Joylene! Please send some of that rain our way. It's soooo hot! But I cool off thinking of those snow covered Alaskan mountains. So beautiful.