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Published: June 20th 2008
False Front at Historic Dyea
This is one of the few remnants left of Dyea
Yesterday’s sun and warmth has been replaced today with a cold rain. We decided that we would drive over to Dyea (pronounced Die E). The ride to Dyea is on a twisting gravel road which is very well maintained and very scenic. Dyea was and actually still is the starting point for the Chilkoot Trail which took the stampeders to the Yukon Gold Rush. There are famous photos of the Chilkoot Trail, which shows hundreds of men, tied together, climbing a very steep mountain with heavy packs on their backs.
Because men were showing up in Dawson City with no supplies, there was a famine there. The Canadian Government decided that each prospector needed a ton of supplies before they could enter Canada. The men needed to lug that ton of supplies up this mountain in packs of about 50-80 pounds each and thus had to make up to 40 trips to get all their supplies to the top. Most men could only make one trip per day and so this was a long and arduous process.
Dyea is only a memory today. With the White Pass and Yukon Railroad that was built from Skagway up to Lake Bennett, people
did not need to use the Chilkoot Trail and as quickly as they came, the people all left. And they dismantled most of the buildings and took the lumber with them. The town disappeared. Today we saw just a few remnants of what was considered a luxurious town of its time.
We met a ranger as we toured the historic site who stated there was a grizzly bear walking out on the edge of the flats. We had been there, but thankfully didn’t meet up with him or her. We stopped at Slide Cemetery, so named because of a snow slide which killed 60 men and some of the victims were carried back down the mountain and buried here.
Back in Skagway we ate lunch at the Alaska Gourmet, where the food is excellent and the service wonderful, and then we went to the museums and saw some interesting films about Skagway and the Chilkoot Trail as well as many artifacts. We are expecting showers again tomorrow, but sunny weather on Friday and Saturday and are hoping to be able to do some hikes.
During the week, there are 6,000-10,000 cruise ship passengers coming off of 4
huge cruise ships onto the streets of this tiny little town. There are 4 streets heading away from the docks and 23 avenues which cross them, some only two blocks wide. The business section however is mainly one street, Broadway and only up until about 8th Ave. So most tourist are concentrated in this one area. The whole town area is less than a half mile wide and less than 2 miles long. It is hard to move around with so many people in town and Dave and I will check out Skagway and the stores on the weekend when it is much calmer.
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