Thursday, October 20, 2011

To The Yukon!

Hello followers, friends, and visitors and welcome to John's Island. Those of you who know our founder know that he is a train nut, aka "railfan", and also a fan of big ships and ocean travel. The opportunity to combine those interests occurred this past summer and we would like to share some of the memories. We are in Skagway, Alaska (via Princess Lines Sapphire) and taking the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad into Canada. It sounds like a long trip but actually only takes about 1.5 hours (3 hours round trip from Skagway.) The interesting thing about this journey is that it follows one of the routes used by miners to reach the area of the great Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. The photo above shows the train along one of the piers in Skagway where cruise ships dock. It's just a short walk from ship to board the train. 

The WP&YR Route provides a nicely done map and brochure describing the trip and one of these will be available as you board the train.

So, here we go, up to White Pass and the border between Alaska, USA, and British Columbia, Canada. We will let the scenery speak for itself, with just a few comments. Be sure to click on the photos for larger views.

Below:  After climbing into the mountains for a while and now looking back toward our point of origin. If you have really good vision, or a pair of binoculars, on this day cruise ships could be seen down in the port -- middle of the picture.

Passengers are allowed on the platforms between cars to take open-air photos.

Another portion of the trail can be seen across the valley.

Below: Still climbing ... looking down, you can see where the train was a few minutes ago.

There are several tunnels on the line. The fascinating thing is that they appear to be carved out of solid rock.

Below:  This steel cantilever bridge is quite a story of its own and was the tallest of its kind in the world when it was constructed in 1901. As you can see, it is no longer in use and the new bridge is visible in another photo.

In the photos below: The famous Trail of 98.  Read more about the Gold Rush here.

Top of the Pass and Canadian - US border. Now, those of you still reading will know that our title here is not exactly correct. At the border here one enters the Province of British Columbia ... the Yukon Territory is still further, but yes, this is the Yukon Route!

At this point we switch sides of the train so everyone gets a fair view of the scenery either coming up or going back down. The engine is brought around and will now lead us back down to Skagway. Some shots of the scenery on the way down follow.  We were told that this was an exceptionally clear air day, but there were thin clouds above.

Approaching the end of our journey it seems fitting to feature a shot of caboose 901 in the yard near town.

And finally, back to the Sapphire Princess. Thanks for going along and hope you enjoyed the rail / sea adventure. Read more about WP & YR here.


  1. That is a train trip I will add to my list of wannado's. I have read about that awful Yukon trail to the gold fields. It must have been awful. Also, I am glad that bridge is no longer in use. I had about decided against the trip upon seeing the photo before you explained.

  2. Wow! I even felt my heart lurch up into my throat when I looked at that track clinging to the side of the mountain! Then it plummeted at the sight of the old bridge! Thanks for a great trip!

  3. Nice trip John like the open air pictures cool. Nice little bit of history. Thanks

  4. What a wonderful trip! Love your blog post and photos. :)

  5. hi john! it has been so long since i've been here. glad you are blogging once again - i appreciate you leaving me a comment a while back telling me you were 'back'. :)

    these are beautiful scenes. the high tressles would make me very nervous, however. :)

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  7. Terrific photo journal of your train trip, John. Must have been great riding on the open platform.

  8. thank you for the vicarious train trip through your lovely photos that captured the trip's essence John.

    worth adding to my bucket list (^_^)

  9. John, what fantastic pictures and wonderful telling of your story of this fabulous trip! I really enjoyed it and you made me feel like I was there. What a treat! Really great and thanks for sharing!

  10. Lovely photos! Thanks for sharing! I hope you enjoyed your trip. :-)

    --Jennifer from Harvard Cleaners


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