Friday, February 13, 2015

Train ride to the Top of the World

First of all, the above title is a misnomer. I didn't take a train ride in Nepal or up Mt.Everest. But I did ride the White Pass and Yukon Railroad from Skagway, Alaska to the British Columbia border.

Second, I'm not really a "train" person. Sure,they're great to get you from one place to another in comfort. But I'm not a train aficionado. This train, however, is quite impressive. Beyond impressive.

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. It climbs 3000 feet in nearly 20 miles going through 2 tunnels. Starting in the town of Skagway, Alaska, the ride we were on ended at the British Columbia border, which was convenient for those without passports.

We started our train ride by passing a cemetery on the outskirts of town where 2 famous feuding Skagway residents are buried. Then the climb and gorgeous scenery began.

Along the way, you pass Class 5 rapids of the Tutshi River. And Bridal Veil Falls, a beautiful waterfall cascading 6000 feet. And then Inspiration Point with views of Skagway and cruise ships sitting in the Lynn Canal.

Next up was some of the most interesting scenery of the trip for me. What looks like a pile of rocks is really the actual Chilkoot Trail from the Klondike Gold Rush where some 30,000 men, women and children climbed the so-called Golden Stairs to reach their fortune. Required to carry a years worth of provisions by the government to prove they were serious and prepared, the Chilkoot Trail has been called "the meanest 33 miles in history." Climbing single file up the golden stairs in frigid weather, some hired out the carrying of their things to others who would carry and climb and then start over again. The entire history lesson was fascinating ! (And a story for another day is a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park which was also fascinating)

Constructed in 1901, this bridge was the tallest cantilever bridge in the world and was used until 1969. 

At the top of the ride, we reached the border of Alaska and British Columbia. Marked with flags representing both and a small log cabin, we then started the ride back down. And you get to see it all over again!

If you are interested in riding the White Pass and Yukon railroad, I would suggest booking it as soon as you know when you are going. It regularly sells out and many, many rides are offered daily. For more info, click here

I'm linking up with #fridaypostcards so hop on over there to check it out!

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