This is Part 2 of our White Pass-Yukon Route train ride. Here is Part One if you misssed it.
This is the White Pass Summit, about 20 miles into our railroad trip. At 2,865 feet above sea level it is the official border between the United States and Canada. (I showed this photo in Part One, but didn't talk about the history of this spot:)
During the Klondike Gold Rush (1897 - 1899), there was a contingent of Royal Canadian Mounted Police stationed here to ensure every man, woman and child had a year’s worth of supplies before they continued on their arduous journeys. Quite a few US citizens weren't able to get that much together before starting their hope-to-get-rich trek, so they took an even more arduous route from Valdez in order to by-pass Canada completely (many of them died trying and few got rich even if they made it).
About 20 miles past our stop at Canadian customs, we reached the town of Bennett BC, our lunch stop for this journey. As we neared it, we could see beautiful Bennett Lake from our train window.
The town of Bennett was built during the Gold Rush -- it is located at the end of the White Pass and the Chilkoot Trail. Gold prospectors would pack their supplies over this mountain trail from the port cities of Skagway and Dyea.
For a while after the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad was completed, wealthy tourists also took the train to Bennett and beyond. But the gold rush ended and interest in the town faded. By the early 1900s, the town was deserted. It is still an abandoned town today except during the summer season when the rail line has renovated Bennett Station House in order to provide a hot meal to modern rail-riding travelers.
After our delicious lunch (and a chance to visit with people from other cars on the train), we had a couple of hours on our own to walk on part of the Chilkoot Trail (a very small part) and explore some of the abandoned buildings in Bennett.
The train than continued to the town of Carcross, Yukon Territory. Once a hunting and fishing camp for the First Nation Tlingit and Tagish peoples, the town became a key stopover and supply center during the Gold Rush. From there they would build or buy rafts to take them down the Yukon River to the gold fields near Dawson City. (The name of the town is a shortened version of Caribou Crossing -- it is near a major migration route for these animals.)
Tourism is the major part of the Carcross economy today. Some of the passengers on the train spent the night there to return by rail the next day. Others were from one of the cruiseships in port in Skagway and their Cruise Lines had a bus waiting for them.
We had, of course, made our reservations directly with the railroad and they had arranged a van for our return trip. The sixty-seven-plus mile journey went a lot faster by van than it had by railroad. The scenery seemed to go by in a blur and we didn't learn as much. But we were glad to be "home" (back to our camper van) for the night.
SHARING WITH: OUR WORLD ON TUESDAY. Thank you to Lady Fi and the rest of the OW team: Arija, Gattina, Sylvia, Sandy and Jen.