Farewell to Soapy at Gold Rush Cemetery, Skagway, Alaska

Sadly we are leaving Skagway.   But one more stop before we really leave.   Less than 2 miles from downtown Skagway is Gold Rush Cemetery.

Gold Rush Cemetery, Skagway, Alaska

This is the final resting place of Soapy Smith, the human.

Soapy Smith’s obituary

Quite the obituary.   Our Soapy Smith Duck wanted a photo with only him and his famous human.   This is a sad moment for Soapy Smith Duck.

Soapy Smith’s tombstone

Now for Frank H. Reid, the reason Soapy is resting here.

Frank H. Reid

The sign continued saying Reid died from the gunshot wound.  Credited with fatally shooting Soapy Smith, Reid is still considered a hero of Skagway.   Ried, the surveyor, was responsible for laying out the Skagway townsite in early 1898 and he named many of the streets in Skagway today.    Frank Reid, the town hero, has the tallest and biggest tombstone in the cemetery.

Large tombstone for Frank H. Reid

Plenty of room here for all our Colorado Traveling Ducks.   Of course the wild days of the gold rush provides many stories.

The Unknown Men

There are a few unknown men, but this story is the most interesting.

Tombstones of Unknowns

A couple tombstones for unknowns.   We believe one is our not successful bank robber.    The last tombstone that caught our attention is that of Martin Itjen and his wife, Lucy.   **

World’s largest golden nugget. Martin Itjen grave

This may be the world’s largest golden nugget.   Really a gold painted boulder, chained to a tree.   Martin created the ultimate tourist attractions.   **

Martin Itjen

Martin Itjen

These signs in Skagway’s Gold Rush Cemetery say it best.   Further research told of Martin taking his street cars to Hollywood to promote tourism to Skagway.   Martin was born in Germany, immigrated to Florida, then to Skagway to find his fortune.   That didn’t work out so well, so he became an undertaker, and then turned tour promoter.   Such a varied life he led.   Martin and Lucy Itjen were the last people buried in Skagway’s Gold Rush Cemetery.   A nice path leads from the graveyard, up the hillside, to Lower Reid Falls.

Lower Reid Falls

We all love the sounds of water.   And, yes, these falls were named for the town hero, Frank H. Reid.   Along the sides of the rock, we like these crevices.

Crevices in rocks at Lower Reid Falls

The vegetation is rain forest type; the temperate climate from the water makes this an interesting place to visit.   Before we leave, one more photo.

Lower Reid Falls

Mom must have taken scores of waterfall photos, but I told her, only two can go in this blog post.   After all, this is Colorado Traveling Ducks, not humans.

Skagway Alaska with Soapy Smith and the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Walking along the main street in Skagway, Alaska, look what we saw.

Girls in the window

These girls in the window.   No, they are not going to jump.   They are inviting all to come inside to see the show.

Days of ’98 Show

The Days of ’98 Show is the longest running musical in Alaska.  Mom, what is this all about, and why is Soapy Smith featured?   Our Soapy?  One of the Colorado Traveling Ducks is named Soapy Smith Duck.   Our duck was named after the notorious and clever outlaw, Jefferson Randolph Smith.   Jefferson Smith earned his nickname, “Soapy” while in Colorado.   The human Soapy moved around and eventually settled in Skagway, Alaska.   Let’s go inside and see the show.

Dancing in the saloon

The girls from the window are dancing, showing ruffles and garters.   Let’s check them out now.

Saloon girls on the bar

On the bar?   Mom, this is crazy and fun.   We like it.   The human Soapy Smith owned and managed this bar in Skagway.   He was well liked, but a little on the wrong side of the law most of the time.

Saloon girls with Brad

This is Brad.   He was a chosen volunteer from the audience.   Brad was very gracious about this, and even let the girls get him in different clothes.   The saloon girls are fighting for Brad’s attention.

Soapy Smith with girl on the bar

This is the human Jefferson “Soapy” Smith with a saloon girl.   The entire musical was about Soapy’s life in Skagway, and also his demise.

The talented cast

Our very talented cast was wonderful and we all appreciated them very much.   This was a very enjoyable performance.   When you are in Skagway, we recommend that you see The Days of ’98 Show.    Now back outside.

Grizzly’s General Store

Downtown Skagway still feels like an old mining town.   The wild Alaska feeling is everywhere.   Even Grizzly’s General Store.

Skagway Brewing

And the necessary Skagway Brewing Company.   The history is preserved.

Alaska Geographic National Historical Park

The Alaska Geographic National Historical Park, highlighting the Klondike Gold Rush.

About the gold seekers

You can walk where gold seekers walked.

Skagway’s main street during the gold rush days

But I’m not sure I want to live like gold seekers lived.   People rushed to Skagway on their way to the gold fields.   The population of the town really grew, and quickly.  This is a great town to visit.

Skagway Welcomes the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We arrived in Skagway, Alaska.   That means we once again left the Canadian Yukon and went through US Customs to get to Skagway.   As we stopped at US Customs, our guide book said we should see a glacier in the mountains above the Customs building.   But there was so much snow on the mountain that our moms could not distinguish the glacier from the snow.   We were happy to arrive at the port city of Skagway.

Welcome sign

Our first stop was the Westmark Hotel.

Mural on side of Westmark Hotel.  Ducks on the sidewalk.

This mural for the Westmark caught our attention.   Skagway became famous during the gold rush in the late 1890’s.  The Skagway Westmark will be our home for the next few days.   Wandering around town, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center.

Visitor’s Center. Former Arctic Brotherhood Hall

This is the former Arctic Brotherhood Hall.   The outside facade has more than 8,833 pieces of driftwood sticks arranged in a mosaic pattern.   Included are the Brotherhood’s AB letters and symbols, a gold pan with nuggets.   The entrance shows the year it was first used by the Arctic Brotherhood.

Visitor’s Center historic entrance

These buildings are really old.   That could be because Skagway is the oldest incorporated city in Alaska.   It was incorporated in 1900.   Skagway is a year-round port and one of two gateway cities to the Alaska Highway in Southeast Alaska.   The other is Haines, Alaska.   Inside the Visitor’s Center, we were greeted by friendly, informative people.   You can really see the driftwood sticks on the counter here.

Counter insider Visitor’s Center

We got helpful information here and loved this building.   Nearby we stopped at the Remedy Shoppe.

Remedy Shoppe. Alaska’s first legal marijuana store

Alaska voted to legalize marijuana a couple years ago.   The remedy Shoppe was Alaska’s first legal marijuana store.  We did not purchase anything there.   We ducks and humans do not need or use marijuana.   Our home state of Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana.   Isn’t this trolley great?

Skagway trolley

We love trolleys.   But wait.   What is this?

Skagway Chamber of Commerce sells duck race tickets

The Skagway Chamber of Commerce is selling tickets to the Duck Derby.   We have so many relatives here.

Duck Derby or Duck Races coming soon

We have duck races at home, but we didn’t expect to see them so far north.   Hi to our distant cousins.   The City of Skagway has an interesting museum.

City of Skagway Museum

This museum is just a block from main street.   Very convenient.   Looking down main street, you may notice that these old historic buildings are all constructed from wood.

Historic old buildings in Skagway. All wood construction

That could be a disaster if a fire started.

Public ashtrays to protect historic wooden buildings.

The city is doing its best to prevent fires.   Please put all cigarette and cigar ashes here.   Let’s all do our part to keep Skagway safe and historic.   You may notice some photos show sun and dry streets and other rain and wet streets.   We were only there a few days in May, but we experienced rainy mornings and sunny afternoons and evenings.   So if you are there, remember the weather can change.

Carcross Desert in Yukon Territory with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Today we are leaving the Alaska highway and going to Skagway.   Skagway is a port city in Alaska.   The Alaska Sate ferry, part of the Marine Highway stops here.   Skagway is a very popular cruise ship port.   It is also one of the few cities in southeast Alaska that are accessible by roads.   We will see tourist stops in Skagway, something missing from most of our road trip.   Let’s go.

Whitehorse, south to Carcross and continuing to Skagway

You have to see Carcross, Yukon Territory.   Carcross, Canadian Yukon Territory, situated on the shores of Lake Bennett, was formerly known as Caribou Crossing.

Carcross, YT on shore of Lake Bennett

But there was a problem.   The Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska all had towns named Caribou Crossing.  Mail delivery wasn’t so good.   So, now we have Carcross in the Canadian Yukon.

Carcross Visitor’s Center with Welcome Man Crest

The Yukon Visitor’s Center here has the “Welcome Man” crest.   As do the community buildings.

Carcross Community buildings

Also featured are totem poles.

Totem poles

These are made by Native carver, Keith Smarch.   Carcross was a stopping place for gold stampeders in the late 1890s.   It was also a stopping place on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad during that same gold rush.   But there is something special about Carcross.   It is home to the world’s smallest desert.

Carcross Desert

This small desert is 640 acres or 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers).   Carcross Tagish First Nation has constructed a single track bike trail which attracts international cyclists.

Carcross Desert

This desert has mountains for a background and some trees.

Carcross desert along road

Carcross desert is right along the highway.   But it is really a desert?

Desert? Ancient lake bed?

It has been called the world’s smallest desert, but we learned that really is the remains of an ancient lake.   And insects?

Rare insects

This is the home to some rare insects and some even more rare insects that are only found here, in the Carcross Desert.

Carcross desert

One more view of the world’s smallest desert, with our dog Chloe.   A few miles north of Carcross Desert is Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake

We Colorado Traveling Ducks love this lake.   It is sometimes referred to as Rainbow Lake.

Emerald Lake

Aren’t the colors fantastic?   We love the green in the water.   Our guide book says the color comes from blue-green light waves, reflecting off the white sediment of the lake bottom.   This white sediment, called marl, consists of fragments of decomposed shell mixed with clay.

Emerald Lake

But we just think it is beautiful.   If you drive between Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and Skagway, Alaska, be sure to stop and admire these lakes, and explore Carcross Desert.

Colorado Traveling Ducks Ride on the Yukon River

Captain Ken and his boat are on the Yukon River just south of downtown Whitehorse.

Captain Ken and our boat

Let’s get on the boat.   No other passengers, just 2 humans, 3 ducks and 1 dog with Captain Ken.

Heading down the Yukon

Heading down the Yukon.   The sun is sometimes out, but it is still cold.   Jackets and life vests keep the humans warm.  The wind from boating down the Yukon is cold, and rather strong.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, are staying warm and safe in our travel bags.  That first picture is our only appearance on the Yukon River boat trip.

Entering Miles Canyon on Yukon River

Entering Miles Canyon, we are amazed at the green water.   Soapy’s mom and dog are in the front of the boat.

Historic Canyon City. Not much left now

This bench and sign is the only remains of Canyon City.   Canyon City was important as early miners waited here for transport through the canyon.

The Yukon River widens

We are now at a wider part of the Yukon River.

Eagles on the Yukon

These eagles did not pay much attention to us, but we noticed them.  Captain Ken docked the boat on the banks of the Yukon so we could get out, stretch our legs, and walk around.

Chloe on ridge along Yukon River

Chloe immediately climbed this steep hill for a better view.

Chloe coming down to Yukon River

Then decided to dash back down.

Chloe in the Yukon River

Climbing and running must have made Chloe thirsty.   The water is very cold and drops off fairly close to the edge.   But Chloe was careful.   Before heading back, Captain Ken had a contest about finding something that was not natural.   A little confusing, but Soapy’s mom found it.   A faint peace sign had been put on a mountain.  Not a good photo.   Soapy’s mom’s prize was a native blue rock.

We like native rocks. This is Soapy’s mom’s prize

It is pretty, but here it almost looks like and M & M candy.   The contest was fun and made us really look at the river bank.

Practicing for Yukon River Quest

We are heading back now.   These people are practicing for the Yukon River Quest.   That is the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race.  Stand Up Paddleboarding is also included in the race, beginning in 2016.   They race 444.28 miles (715 km) from Whitehorse northwest to Dawson City, Yukon Territory.   The race began Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at noon.   The race will end 9:00 pm Saturday June 29, 2019.   This, the 21st year, there were 117 vessels, a new record, that competed.

Still patches of snow along Yukon

Back in Miles Canyon we again admire the green water and see the snow still on the canyon wall.   The canyon wall is basalt lava flows and cones that erupted and flowed across an ancient pre-glacial landscape in south central Yukon.   This was formed 8.5 million years ago.   Captain Ken said the lava seeped through the rock walls.   These balsalt walls are fascinating to see.  During the gold rush days, cruising this canyon was trecherous because of the White Horse Rapids.

Generating power on the Yukon

This hydroelectric power plant has tamed the White Horse Rapids, and provides power to the city of Whitehorse.

Almost back to our Jeep

Almost ready to dock and return to our Jeep.   We loved our trip on the Yukon River.   It was chilly, but we are so glad we went.  A great 3 hour trip!   You would enjoy a river trip also.

Kluane Lake to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are leaving the beautful Lake Kluane.

Leaving Kluane Lake

About an hour later we arrived at Haines Junction.

Passing through Haines Junction. With mandatory stop for gas

We stayed here on the way north.   This is really is a Junction.   You can drive to Haines, Alaska, a port city, or continue south on the Alaska Highway.  A rule of travel in the far north.   Never pass a gas station.   The next one may be closed or out of fuel.   So we stopped in Haines Junction for gas and fresh sodas.

Alaska highway heading to Whitehorse, Canadian Yukon

We are continuing south towards Whitehorse.   Arriving in Whitehorse, we walked along the Yukon River.

Evening on bench along Yukon River in Whitehorse

We appreciate the many benches along the river.

Totem Pole. Downtown Whitehorse

This totem pole downtown by the river, is such a wonderful reminder of the native Athabascan history.

Stools near Yukon River. Whitehorse

These nearby stools are dediated to the Whitehorse Mission School, 1947-1960.

White Pass & Yukon Route Train station in Whitehorse

The White Pass and Yukon Route train station was the end of the train between Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse during the gold rush of the late 1890’s.  The narrow gauge train stopped running in 1982.   When my mom was younger, she and Soapy’s mom, her daughter, flew from Fairbanks to Whitehorse and took that train to Skagway.   They say it was beautiful!

Whitehorse train station also start and finish line for Yukon Quest dog race

This Whitehorse train station is also the Official Start/Finish line for the Yukon Quest.   That is a 1,000 mile dog sled race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks.   The race takes place in February and alternates starting and finish destinations each year.

Honoring firefighters

We liked this firefighter statue here in Whitehorse.

Firefighter’s Prayer. Whitehorse

And the firefighter’s prayer plaque.   We certainly appreciate firefighters everywhere.

Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant. A favorite!

We enjoyed dinner at the Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant.   This restaurant closes for the winter and just opened a couple days before we arrived.   Our moms ordered salmon and halibut.   Everything is delicious here.   Of course, desserts were ordered.

Huge brownie desserts

They each ordered brownie a la mode with caramel sauce.   These brownies are huge!  And so good.

Yukon Information Center Whitehorse

In the morning we visited the Yukon Information Center.   We got information on a tour that is operating in May.   We will show you where we went next time.

Beaver Creek to Kluane Lake, Yukon with Colorado Traveling Ducks

This was a great traveling day.   We didn’t travel several hundred miles, but we saw animals and a huge gold pan.   Leaving Beaver Creek, the most western Canadian community, our first stop was to see the world’s largest gold pan.

World’s largest gold pan

Here we are in Burwash Landing, Canadian Yukon.   This gold pan is 21 feet in diameter and features a gold miner panning for gold.   The picture of the gold miner is painted occasionally.   The last time was about 10 years ago.   It could use a new painting.   We  saw the Kluane Museum of History; not open while we were there.

Kluane Museum of History

Outside we enjoyed a great display of life after fires.   After fires, small plants and trees begin to emerge, attracting insects and small animals.   Then larger vegetation and larger animals.   The circle of life is regenerated after forest fires.

Outdoor museum

Also there is the outdoor exhibits of original buildings.   Burwash Landing was the traditional home of Southern Tutchona Athabascan Indians and was their summer camp.   In the early 1900’s, a trading post was established here by the Jacquot brothers.   Of course, for a short time gold mining was a major source of income.   We enjoyed the statues around the museum area.

Working on tractor

The tractor was rather surprising, but we liked it.   Food must be grown everywhere.   Burwash Landing, according to the 2011 census, has a population of 90 permanent residents.

Lake Kluane

Located on the southern shores of Kluane Lake, Burwash Landing is the administration center of the Kluane First Nation people.   Continuing down the Alaska Highway, we were happy to see this grizzly bear.

One grizzly bear

Isn’t she wonderful?  But wait.

Three grizzlies.   And motorcycle

Not one grizzly, but three.   Mom and her two cubs.   They stopped to roll and play in the road.   Then to the lake.

Mom and cubs heading to Kluane Lake. Bath time

After crossing the road, they approached Kluane Lake.   Here they will bathe and have a short swim in the cold Kluane Lake.

Kluane Lake

The few other vehicles that were on the road also stopped to watch this fabulous grizzly bear family.   Continuing south on the Alaska Highway, we soon reached Thachal Dhal Visitor’s Center.

Thachal Dhal Visitor’s Center

Unfortunately the Visitor’s Center had not yet opened for the season.   Most places on the Alaska Highway open in mid or late  May.   But there are enough motels, campgrounds and restaurants that are open year round that travelers can be comfortable any time.   Winter in the far north is the determining factor for most tourists, and when they want to travel.  Last year we stopped at the Thachal Dhal Visitor’s Center.   It is very interesting and definitely worth a stop.   It is a great place to see the Dall Sheep, during spring and fall.

Dall Sheep on mountain side

We did see some Dall Sheep on the mountain side.   They are fun to watch as they run and jump around the rocky mountain areas.   Also on our drive, we saw three caribou or reindeer playing in the woods by the road, and a moose in a lake, too far away for a photo.   We love seeing all the animals, the lakes, snow capped mountains and very little traffic.   We hope you drive the Alaska or Alcan Highway in late May or early June.   It is beautiful.