Today we sailed into Skagway (Yukon Territory), another stunning port in the Alaskan interior passage. Famous for the spectacular scenery from the White Pass Railroad and another opportunity for aerial views, this time with the added bonus of dog sledding on the glacier.
We didn’t do either of those things, however we did catch a photo of the railroad as it passed by and pick up a great tip from the locals – if you are going to ride the railroad, sit on the left side of the train going up for the best views, and walk out between the cars for the best photos.
I know it was completely different, but we did already spend 16 hours riding trains in Alaska last week and, several years ago we landed in a helicopter on a glacier in New Zealand so we opted to save our dollars and instead we went to a brothel.
Or, should I say, a former brothel.
More accurately, a tour of a former brothel.
The Red Onion was one of 70 brothels in Skagway in the late 1890’s during the days of the gold rush. Some 15,000 men flooded the town in hopes of finding their fortune. In reality, none did as no gold was found in Skagway. Well, we shouldn’t say no one found their fortune, as the madams did pretty well for themselves. The working girls earned $5 for 15 minutes of “service” which was more than a miner’s day wage. As the madam kept half, I am guessing the madams did the best job of striking it rich.
The best part of the tour was our guide’s continual flow of rather inappropriate innuendo. We took our teens, although I think much of the humor was lost on them, as rather than laughing they seemed a bit uncomfortable.
From the Red Onion we took a shuttle bus which drives around Skagway offering $5 on/off all day. That was a good use of our money. We headed out to the Gold Rush Cemetery where we were surprised to see an overwhelming majority of tombstones reading 1898.
From there we hiked to Reid waterfall. The forest was green and lush, and the waterfall cascaded along the rocks rushing much faster than I would have expected.
On the way down we had a chance meeting with a local historian (the girl’s stopped to pet his dog). From him we learned why nearly half of the grave markers were from 1898. Turns out that all those people who flocked to Skagway came long before the infrastructure and needed doctors. Typhoid, meningitis and lawlessness wiped out most of those buried there.
A few other random Skagway sites;
All photos on this page ©Rhonda Albom 2013. All Rights Reserved.
More Free (or inexpensive) Things to do in Skagway (we squeezed many of these in our day):
- Easy hike to Yakutania Point, where you get a lovely view of the inlet, the cruise ships and there were whales on the day we were there!
- More challenging, yet lovely hike to Lower Dewey Lake (and easy walk around the lake once you get there). Park Movie – a free 30 minute film on the history of Skagway at the Ranger’s Visitor Station (2nd and Broadway).
- Ranger Presentations – 45 minute talk at 10am daily (topics change – the day we were there was Gardening in Skagway).
- Ranger-led historic walking tours, free but you need to pick up a ticket at the Ranger Visitor Station
- Skagway Museum on 5th and Broadway (the main museum at the end of 7th Street is $2.)
- Free Wifi at the library. It opened at noon, but the Wifi was available just outside starting at 10am (8th and State).
A nearly free day. Not bad for an Alaska cruise port! (Our actual visit to Skagway was on 12 July, 2013.)
Which was your favorite free Skagway attraction? Have you ever been to Skagway?
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