The White Pass & Yukon Railroad Company was the dream of four men, Samuel Graves, John Bishop, E. C. Hawkins and Michael J. Heney and on May 28, 1898, construction began on the 110-mile narrow gauge railroad. July 29, 1900 was the official opening of the railroad. After $10 Million, 450 tons of explosives and countless hours of work by thirty-five thousand men, the first passenger train pulled out carrying a half million dollars in gold dust.
Today, the White Pass & Yukon Railroad is still running, but the "gold" it carries is now the tourists anxious to experience the magnificent scenery and breathtaking views.
We were surprised when we disembarked the Sun Princess in Skagway to see the train from the past right in front of us, just a few steps from our large, modern-day cruise ship. We boarded a car in the middle of the train, and chose seats near the door, because I knew I would be standing on the platform to take pictures. Don’t concern yourself as to which side to sit on. At the Summit the train stops, moves the engines to the opposite end of the train for the trip down. Passengers are asked to "flip" their seats (to face the opposite direction) and to change sides. Everyone cooperated and the transition was smooth; we were again facing forward, with all new views from our windows.
No matter where we were on the train, the view was breathtaking. At the lower elevations of the Tongass National Forest, we could see the steep inclines that were traveled by those early prospectors, cascading waterfalls and a variety of trees including the Black Cottonwood, Western Hemlock and the Alaska State Tree, the Sitka Spruce. Nearing the Summit, snow dominated the landscape. The wooden bridges and trestles created wonderful photo opportunities. The only refreshment available was complimentary bottled water, but no one seemed to mind. There was a bathroom in each car and there was no smoking anywhere on the train.
Our four-hour trip flew by and before we knew it, we were pulling into the Skagway Train Station. Passengers can get off there and enjoy Skagway or stay on the train and return to the cruise ship after a short stop.
Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
February 21, 2008
From journal Alaskan Cruise from Seattle
Rochester, New York
June 28, 2006
From journal Alaska Cruise: Scenery, Seas + a Toe Cocktail
August 23, 2004
From journal Alaskan Cruise
West Chester, Pennsylvania
August 17, 2004
This tour is very relaxing and enjoyable. The views are fantastic, as well as the tour commentary and the people onboard. This excursion is definitely worth taking if you're traveling as a family. It will certainly be enjoyable for everyone involved.
From journal Alaska on Radiance of the Seas
July 24, 2004
Next, we were bused to a train station to take the White Pass & Yukon Railroad back to Skagway. The train is built along the old trail where the prospectors went into the Klondike to try to make their fortune in the 1890's. It is built on the side of a mountain, so the train ride at times felt treacherous. Most of the sights were unbelievable and thrilling. When you get back to Skagway, you feel a little disappointment that the trip is finished.
From journal Alaskan Cruisetour with Princess Cruises
by Linda Kaye
San Antonio, Texas
July 2, 2003
From journal Cruising In the Midnight Sun
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
February 8, 2003
The route remained in operation until 1982 and was
reopened in 1988 for tourist excursions, allowing passengers to retrace part of the miners’ route in the comfort of vintage parlor cars. In 1994 it was given the designation of an International Historic Civil Engineering landmark, in company with such notables as the Panama Canal and the Statue of Liberty. WP&Y’s fleet has 55 train cars. Some are the originals from the 1890s but others were built in 2000 and outfitted to vintage specifications.
This was one of the more
popular shore excursions and I made a point of booking it on our first day aboard ship. The train depot is right beside the cruise ship dock and you can literally step off the boat and onto the train. Cost for the 3 hour trip that took us to the White Pass Summit and back was $89.00 per person.
It took two engines to pull the train because we covered some pretty steep terrain. We traveled through town and passed the Gold Rush Cemetery at the outskirts and then it wasn’t long before the train started to climb the steep incline. As we got higher the town of Skagway was spread out before us and we could see the ships at dockside and the mountain ranges in the
distance. At the back of each car was a platform where we could stand to take pictures and to inhale Alaska’s clean, fresh air.
Fresh filtered water was available in each car and an attendant came in periodically to sell chips and chocolate bars.
We passed by areas such as Black Cross Rock where a black cross marks the spot where two railroad workers were buried in a blasting accident in 1898; 6,000 foot high Bridal Veil Falls; Dead Horse Gulch where 3,000 horses perished due to harsh weather and even harsher care from many of their owners and Tunnel Mountain where the train crosses a seemingly rickety bridge over Glacier Gorge. The bridge is much sturdier than it looks but there seemed to be a collective gasp when we first realized we had
to cross over it.
After a brief stop at the summit, it was back to Skagway where we still had time to explore the town.
From journal Cruising the Last Frontier
September 20, 2000
From journal A Sunny Day in Skagway