By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies as provided in our policy.

Skagway Centennial Statue (and Park) - Skagway, Alaska
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Tygress
N 59° 27.177 W 135° 19.169
8V E 481886 N 6590533
Quick Description: Skagway says their Centennial was a decade long, but the plaque for this statue pinpoints the 100 year spread as 1897-1997.
Location: Alaska, United States
Date Posted: 5/20/2010 2:22:27 PM
Waymark Code: WM8WAB
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member gparkes
Views: 21

Long Description:
Dan McGrew lies dead and mouldering
Sam McGee's lit out for the Keys
Where he sits in full sun with a boat drink
Savoring that hot tropical breeze
The guys at the Malamute are all respectable
If they fight, it's for tourist applause
Sure, Skagway's buffed down its rough edges
Folks more civil, and abidin' by laws.
Still, as I wander this venerable boardwalk
Tinny piano from history I hear
Skagway may be refitted genteely
But she sits on the very edge of Frontier.

Celebrating the Skagway Centennial, visitors find much to focus their interest:

Skagway Centennial Park – 1st and Broadway – Statue of Tlingit Packer, Rotary Snowplow #1, time capsule, monuments, orientation signs, native plants, and a covered waiting area with benches. (visit link)

Though Centennial Park itself is dated, it is the Tlingit Packer Statue that takes pride of place and focus for the celebration's waymark. Centered in a concrete compass, it captures the spark that put Skagway on the map.

The plaque reads:


Skagway was originally spelled S-K-A-G-U-A, a Tlingit word for “windy place.” The first people in this area were Tlingits from the Chilkoot and Chilkat villages in the Haines-Klukwan area. From a fish camp in nearby Dyea, they used the Chilkoot Trail for trading with the First Nations people of the Yukon Territory. The windy Skagway valley was favored for hunting mountain goats and bear, but no one settled here until 1887. That June, Skookum Jim, a Tlingit from the Carcross-Tagish area, encountered members of the William Ogilvie expedition, a Canadian survey party that came north to map the country. Captain William Moore, a member of the party, was persuaded by Skookum Jim to follow him up a lower pass through the mountains, while the others took the Chilkoot route. Leaving this beach, the two journeyed up the Skagway Valley to Lake Bennett, meeting the other party seven days later. The two men were excited and extolled the advantages of this new route through the mountains. Olgilvie at once named it for Sir Thomas White, a Canadian government minister. Moore had visions of a port city served by a railroad, and he returned to the valley with his son Bernard in October 1887. They built a cabin and a wharf, and waited. A small number of prospectors had been entering the north country searching for gold since the 1870s. It was only a matter of time until a great stampede would bring many more. In August 1896, Tlingits Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie, along with George Carmack of California, discovered a large amount of gold in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River, some 600 miles from here. The creek was renamed Bonanza, and when word of this strike reached the outside world in July 1897, the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898 was on!

For centuries the Tlingits controlled these passes. The tide of stampeders forced them to give up control, but native packers still guided would-be prospectors over these mountains, and they were paid handsomely for their work. This sculpture represents a typical scene at the start of Chilkoot or White Pass trails in August 1897. The Tlingit packer, in his 40s, his centuries of knowledge about the route from his ancestors. He wears traditional clothing, made of moosehide and bear fur, and carries a pack made from the skin of a mountain goat, held to his back by a tumpline strapped around his chest. He leads a 30-year-old stampeder, just off a ship from Puget Sound, who is determined to reach the gold fields. His pack is a wood-frame box, and outside are strapped his hunting knife, shovel and gold pan, which he hopes will gather riches before winter. With eyes wide open and an eager smile, the stampeder has no apprehension about the rigors of the trail ahead.

Sculptor: Chuck Buchanan

Statue Design Input: Si Dennis, Sr., Richard Dick, Marian Katzeek Kelm, Roy Minter, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, John Svenson, Dr. Bob White.

Skagway Centennial Committee: Clay Alderson, Jeff Brady, Irene Henricksen, John McDermott, Carl Mulvihill, Stan Seimer.

Centennial Park: Architect – Jones and Jones; Survey – David Miller; Contractor – Hunz and Hunz; Funding – City of Skagway, White Pass & Yukon Route, donations.

Dedication * July 13, 1997

Seal – with silhouettes of 3 White Pass climbers:
1997-1998 CENTENNIAL


From wikipedia to travel sites, there's plenty of info about the History of Skagway. A couple sites I'd point you to right off are the Official Skagway website history (visit link) and the WP&YR Railroad site (visit link)
In addition, Sgt Preston’s Lodge History of Skagway makes for good reading (visit link)

Winding away from the readily findable, there's a 1990s article from Sunset Magazine that entertained me and caught the spirit of the place:
(visit link)

Rowdy Skagway, sedate Haines; they're history-rich Alaska neighbors, 13 miles apart by ferry or plane, 360 spectacular miles by car
Sunset, May, 1990

From the start, these two Alaska towns were as different as a dance-hall girl's petticoat and a lieutenant's dress grays. In Skagway, argonauts from five continents stomped muddy streets on their way to the Klondike's gold fields. Across the Lynn Canal, Haines was a bastion of Army tradition; recruits drilled on the parade ground, and inside clapboard houses officers' wives served tea. Even today, Skagway and Haines remain very distinct. Skagway is a popular mix of history and tourist to-do. Haines is quieter, a haven for artists and craftspeople--though increased cruise service is bringing more visitors here, too. Only 13 miles apart by plane or ferry (or 360 spectacular miles by car), the towns exemplify qualities that make Alaska like nowhere else.

"Little better than hell on earth"

"Where are you from?" asks the master of ceremonies at the Skaguay in the Days of '98 Show. "Munich!" someone shouts back. "Sydney!" cries another. Skagway (from the Tlingit Indian Skaguay, perhaps meaning "place of the north wind") has always lured the hopeful from all corners of the globe. When, in 1896, gold was found in the Yukon to the north, Skagway's natural harbor made it a jumping-off place for gold seekers, gold diggers, saloonkeepers, and bunco artists. One Canadian Mountie put it bluntly: Skagway was "little better than hell on earth." Ruling the town with a mix of bonhomie and strongarm tactics was "Soapy" Smith, con man extraordinaire. Soapy would probably recognize Skagway today. Unlike many Western boom towns, it never burned down. And over the last 15 years, private citizens and the National Park Service have restored the gold rush-era buildings. Visit today and you'll find Skagway not hellish but--as Soapy himself could be--charming. However you arrive (see next page), introduce yourself to town at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park headquarters, Second Avenue and Broadway. It's open from 8 to 8 daily; (907) 983-2921. Films and displays recount the gold hunters' trek from Skagway over the Coast Mountains via two nightmarish trails, the White Pass and the Chilkoot. Park Service walking tours lead you up Broadway past landmarks including the Golden North Hotel and the Arctic Brotherhood Hall--the latter a driftwood-faced building that looks to have been built by beavers. You can also see the town by private bus tours (check at hotels) or by livery (just hop aboard on Broadway). Or walk on your own: pick up the pamphlet Footsteps into the Land of Gold at the Skagway Convention and Visitors' Bureau, in City Hall, Seventh Avenue and Spring Street. The bureau can also advise on lodging. Other Skagway highlights: Days of '98 Museum. Housed in Skagway's granite City Hall, the museum contains important gold rush artifacts including mining equipment, household goods, newspapers. At Seventh Avenue and Spring Street, it's open 8 to 6 daily; admission is $2, $1 students; 983-2420. Skaguay in the Days of '98. This garter-snapping production makes a comic melodrama of Soapy Smith's rise and fall. Where else will you hear lyrics like, "It's the tundra that tears my heart asunder/Moonlight, the Yukon, and you"? At the Eagles Hall, on Broadway between Fifth and Sixth avenues, shows start at 9 P.M. daily. Tickets are $10, $5 ages under 12; 983-2545. White Pass and Yukon Railroad. As miners flocked over the White Pass Trail, financiers saw that a railroad might be profitable. To build it, workers dangled from cliffs and braved winter temperatures of -60 [degrees]. Now the narrow-gauge train hauls tourists along its vertginious route, starting the 3-hour round trip daily at 9 and 1:30. Fares are $69 for adults, $34.50 for ages 12 and under. Write to White Pass and Yukon Route, Box 435, Skagway 99840, or call (800) 343-7373 or (907) 983-2217. Chilkoot Trail. This competing route to the gold fields began in Dyea, 8 miles north of Skagway. Now nearly 3,000 hikers a summer follow the trail 33 miles to its end at Bennett, British Columbia. Allow at least four days for this trek, and prepare for summer weather that can veer from sun to snow. For necessary trail information, write to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Box 517, Skagway 99840. To return, you can board a track motorcar that runs between Bennett and Fraser, then take the train back to Skagway. Write or call the White Pass and Yukon (address above). [Visit the article for more sights and so forth – some perhaps still active 20 years later. After all, this centenarian is going strong!]

Happy 100th birthday and change, Skagway!


by Jane Gaffin (visit link)

Jane Gaffin is a Whitehorse-based freelance writer who specializes in mining.

Chuck Buchanan is an impressive Yukon artist who works with a variety of indigenous materials such as horn, antler, bone, stone and wood and has a cavalcade of achievements to his credit.

Some of his coveted carvings are part of the Yukon government's permanent art collection.

For his own theme park, he chiseled a hundred years of Yukon history into a 4,000-pound beige marble boulder, rounded and smoothed from sliding down a mountain during an ice age. "It's beautiful to work with," enthused Buchanan who transported the stone five miles along the highway on a front-end loader to its resting place at Heritage Park.

He's also fabricated Fibreglas wildlife mounts for museums and parks and has created life-size Fibreglas human figures. He casts bronze busts like the one of legendary policeman Sam Steele displayed in front of the Whitehorse detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and another of poet Robert Service that graces the lawn of the Yukon Visitors' Reception Centre.

Buchanan is very knowledgeable about bronzing, which is an ancient metal alloy composed of copper and a smidgen of tin and has been used for many millennia to craft art pieces. His vast sculpting experience and knowledge about metals accounts for why his first heroic-size piece came together in record time and why he was able to meet the pressure-cooker deadline to unveil The Goldseeker statue as a highlight during the Canadian Mines Ministers' Conference held in Whitehorse on September 21-22, 1992. [got you hooked? click on the link to read the full article -- it's worth it!]
Subject: Town

Commemoration: Skagway Centennial

Date of Founding: 1897

Date of Commemoration: July 13, 1997

Skagway Centennial Park – 1st and Broadway -- Skagway, Alaska

Overview Photograph:


Detail Photograph:


Web site if available: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
  • Artistic Photograph of Location. Make it from a new angle to show something new. Pictures can include interaction, as that is encouraged, but should be done so with the thought of inspiring further visitation of the area. No GPSr Pictures, unless there is something significant to show about the coordinates.
  • In your description, tell us something new you learned about the area and your impressions of the waymark.
Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Community Commemoration
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Nearest Hotels
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point