Klondike Gold Rush NHP: White Pass Depot

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Klondike Gold Rushā–ŗ

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park commemorates the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. From 1896 to 1899, 100,000 ‘stampeders’ set out to find their fortunes in the Yukon Territory. Of those who attempted the arduous journey, only 30,000 made it to the Klondike. Around 4000 actually struck gold.

Stepping into downtown Skagway is like stepping into the late 1800s. The National Park Service manages and preserves twenty historical structures here. The park seeks to tell the story of the boomtown days when hopeful prospectors passed through in search of a better life.

Skagway went from a tent city to a frontier town almost overnight. Stampeders sailed up the Inside Passage to Skagway. From Skagway, they trekked the White Pass Trail to the Yukon River. Once on the river, they had another 500 miles to go until they made it to the Klondike gold fields.

Authorities required prospectors to have a year’s worth of supplies in order to hike the White Pass. Transients arrived in Skagway without provisions and struggled to find work and and acquire the necessary supplies. Most of those who made the journey eventually returned home broke.

We stopped in Skagway on our Alaskan cruise. Once off the ship, we made beeline for the visitor center. We watched the movie and attended a ranger talk on the Buffalo Soldier outpost in Skagway. Then we toured Jeff Smith’s Parlor, walked through the Moore Homestead and finally rode the White Pass Railway up to the Yukon.

White Pass & Yukon Route Railway Broadway Depotā–ŗ

The White Pass and Yukon Route became the primary means of reaching the Yukon upon its completion in 1900. Though the gold rush traffic had dwindled by then, the railroad remained active until 1982. The WP & YR built its first depot in Skagway with an administration building next door. The US Army commandeered the buildings and railway in the 1940s to facilitate the construction of the Alaska Highway.

White Pass transferred the buildings to the NPS in 1976. The Park Service restored them to their 1908 appearance in 1984. Today the Depot serves as the Visitor Center and the administration building is the museum.

Skagway postsā–ŗ

  • Klondike Gold Rush NHP
  • White Pass Depot
  • Jeff Smith’s Parlor
  • The Moore Homestead
  • White Pass and Yukon Route Railway
  • Tongass

Location: Skagway, Alaska
Designation: National Historical Park
Date designated/established: June 30, 1976
Date of my visit: June 2, 2022

15 thoughts on “Klondike Gold Rush NHP: White Pass Depot

  1. Kings On the Road

    Skagway is one of our favorite places. We love the history the park service does such a great job of interpretation. Every chance we get we ride the White Pass & Yukon Rwy.
    Great place great story.

  2. When I see anything old, I can’t help but imagine the people who built and used those things. The people are long gone but what they made, the things they touched, and where they worked and lived is still preserved. That boggles my mind.

      1. Take the coffee pot, for instance, how many pots of coffee were made in that coffee pot? How many prospectors poured a cup of coffee from that pot? Did the people who owned that pot ever find gold or strike it rich?

        I read that the only people, really, who made money during gold strikes were the merchants who sold the supplies shown in your photo. As you noted, most prospectors returned home with empty pockets.

        And, then, I can’t help but think of the hands that built the railroad engine and the engineers who drove it to gold country — and all of the people with high hopes and dreams who rode the train.

        They have all returned to the mist of time but the evidence of their life and labor still remains.

        In the words of Mr. Spock — “Fascinating”.

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