Carson's Alaska Newsletter #8
|Location:Whitehorse, Yukon Territories||Date: June 7-9,2003|
On the Road with Fred and Barb - Newsletter #8
June 7-9,2003 Teslin to Whitehorse
As we said in our last newsletter, Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territories. But it doesn't look like your typical capital city. No hi-rises here. And it is small by most capital city standards - only 23,000 people. But it does have a Wal-Mart and a complete grocery store (first since we left Edmonton). Our campground even offers cable TV hookup so we have caught up on the happenings around the world. Not much new - still fighting SARS in Toronto, Mad Cow in Alberta and kidnappings/killings everywhere. Guess the only good news was that the stock market continues to climb. What we still don't have, and haven't since Edmonton, is cell phone coverage. Oh well, that's why we have email.
Robbie and Barb decided to take advantage of the "big city" and get hair cuts. The men called upon a mobile glass repair man to come fix a chip we each had in our RV windshields. Both were small and easily repaired. Ours was so small that he didn't even charge us.
Then it was off to do some sightseeing. There is so much history here regarding the Gold Rush of 1898. When word spread that gold had been found in Dawson, people from all over the world headed by ship to Skagway, then climbed up over the Chilkoot Pass to Whitehorse. In Whitehorse they built makeshift rafts and canoes for the journey down the Yukon River. Many lost their lives in the rapids. (Whitehorse got its name because the rapids looked like the manes of white horses.) We took a 2 hour boat ride on the Yukon River through Miles Canyon. This is a narrow area of the river that used to be quite treacherous. But there are no rapids today as a dam in town has calmed the waters. While this was a very pleasant boat ride, there really wasn't much to see along the river.
One of the fun things to do in Whitehorse is attend a performance of the Frantic Follies. This is a vaudeville-type revue set in the days of the gold rush. It was very lively and entertaining and we were all impressed with the talent of the performers. Each was multi-talented, singing, dancing and playing a variety of musical instruments. Highly recommended if you are in stopping in Whitehorse.
Another surprisingly interesting tour was on the SS Klondike. This steam powered sternwheeler used to take miners and supplies from Whitehorse to Dawson but is no longer in service. It has been restored and is a National Historic Site.
There are several museums in Whitehorse but the only one we went to was the McBride. This features exhibits on the Gold Rush including some wonderful photographs from that time. Between the McBride Museum and the SS Klondike, we really got a great understanding of what an ordeal the men went thru in their quest for gold. Did you know that before they were even allowed to enter the Yukon, they had to have a years supply of food? So they made multiple trips over the Chilkoot Pass, each time carrying 100 pounds of supplies on their backs. Then they would slide back down the mountain on their shovels to pick up their next load! Between the freezing temperatures, the harsh physical environment of the mountains and the river, many men never made it to Dawson. And those that did were often disappointed to find out that the claims were already taken. There were very few women in the Yukon during the gold rush - 1 woman to every 11 men. One woman said that while the odds were good of finding a man, it was also true that the goods were odd!
We have now entered Alaska for the first time. We drove down to Skagway on the South Klondike Highway with what has to be the most breathtaking scenery we've seen so far. More about that in the next newsletter.
Barb and Fred