Skagway, Alaska — Northwest
Skagway's Historic Waterfront
The arrival of the stampeders quickly turned the wilderness river valley into a city of tents and log cabins. During the fall and winter of 1897-1898, the harbor was a wild scene of chaos and confusion---jammed with ships, scows and barges unloading passengers, equipment, supplies, freight and animals. Hastily constructed rough frame buildings, along with tents and cabins, became stores, hotels, restaurants and businesses. Frank Reid, the city surveyor,
The most pressing need for stampeders going to the Klondike was transportation. The hazards of the White Pass encouraged entrepreneurs to dream of new solutions to the transportation problem. By the winter of 1897-98 the Brackett Wagon Road was in business, with tolls charged for its use. The potential for economic development in the north was so great that it caught the imagination of Close Brothers in England. In the spring of 1898 these investors decided to fund construction of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.
For 100 years Skagway and the railroad have enjoyed a common history. It began with tracks on the waterfront. Generations of families have worked together to create a lasting community for their children. Many have worked for the railroad, served as longshoremen to unload ships, and move freight or provided educational and medical services to local families.
(Inscription beside the photo in the upper left)
People, animals and freight jam the Skagway docks c. 1897. Horses were shipped from Seattle and Vancouver for sale to stampeders and packers to move freight over the
(Inscription under the photo in the lower left)
Skagway graffiti, c.1930. For the past century, cruise line personnel have commemorated their ship’s visit in Skagway by painting the ship’s name, logo, and other messages on the face of the rocks above Moore Wharf. The volume of graffiti has increased along with the number of ships.—Alaska State Library, PCA 01-2851. Early Prints of Alaska Collection.
(Inscription under the photo in the center)
Above: Skagway’s prime competitor for the stampeders and their freight was the settlement of Dyea, nine miles away. The Chilkoot Trail, the historic route to the interior, began in the Dyea river valley. But Dyea’s waterfront was shallow, and all freight had to be lightered onto the beach. Business competition between the two communities was fierce. The completion of the railroad in Skagway caused people to abandon the trails. C.1898—Bancroft Library
(Inscription beside the photo in the lower right)
Wharves on the Skagway harbor, 1899-1900. On the east is Moore Wharf, with the railroad running along the steep cliffs. Skagway’s deep-water harbor gave it an advantage
Left: The Seattle P4. In its edition of July 17, 1897, gave the Klondike Gold Rush its push into history. With the headline “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!” the newspaper helped to create the stampede to the north. Ships began to leave Seattle within hours, people quit their jobs, left their families and—often ill prepared—began the race to the Klondike. The first 1000 miles were by boat from Seattle to Skagway or Dyea. Stampeders travelled an additional 600 miles north to the rich gold fields of the Canadian Klondike. — Negative #4093. Special Collections Division, University of Washington Libraries.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1897.
Location. 59° 27.007′ N, 135° 19.426′ W. Marker is in Skagway, Alaska. Marker is on Broadway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Skagway AK 99840, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Captain William Moore (a few steps from this marker); Three Thousand Pack Animals (approx. ¼ mile away); Skagway Centennial Statue (approx. ¼ mile away); Skagway and White Pass (approx. ¼ mile away); Inspector Charles ConstantineJeff. Smith’s Parlor (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fatal Duel (approx. 0.3 miles away); Arctic Brotherhood Camp Skagway (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Skagway.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on December 17, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 524 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on April 5, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on December 17, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.