We are in Skagway, a tourist destination for cruise ships only about 20 miles from the Canadian border. No glaciers, for once! Sorry about that…..
Jean has got a nasty cough, but has tested negative for Covid, thank heaven.
Two huge cruise ships – the Celebrity Millennium and Ovation of the Seas – along with us and Silversea’s Silver Shadow are in port. That’s got to be potentially 6,000 people hitting town.
After breakfast, we boarded a bus for our Historic Skagway tour. This took us through “downtown” Skagway up to a lookout point above the town.
Skagway is an Anglicised version of a native American word meaning “where the North Wind blows”. It was breezy, but not too cold. Certainly not like Juneau yesterday.
Permanent residents number around 1,300, dropping to 800 or so in the winter – they get a lot of snow here. This is swelled during the summer months by the cruise ships – tourism is pretty much Skagway’s only source of income.
Our driver, bearded Ben, then took us back down the hill to a cemetery housing, inter alia, the remains of the notorious Jefferson “Soapy” Smith, a conman who originally made his money from hoodwinking people by selling soap with dollar bills of various denominations wrapped inside. His henchmen walked among the crowd armed with the high value bills, and generated excitement by shouting that they’d got a big’un. Certainly a much easier way of making money than being a cowhand on a cattle ranch, his first job, which he hated as it was too much like hard work.
He heard about the Klondike gold rush and decided to exploit it. Skagway was a starting point for the rail journeys up to the gold fields, so he based himself there. However, he made himself so unpopular that the citizens of Skagway held a meeting to decide how to get rid of him – this was in 1898. Smith heard about the meeting and gatecrashed it. He was confronted by Frank Reid, a local councillor, and a shooting match ensued. Smith was killed outright and Frank Reid lasted an agonising 12 days before he too died.
Smith’s gravestone was much humbler and he was actually buried outside the official boundary of the cemetery as the town administration didn’t want to sully the cemetery with the likes of him. Frank Reid was hailed as a hero and got a much posher sending off, even though he was actually a very unpleasant man.
Back to the ship, but Jean and I decided to walk into town for a closer look.
Most of the buildings in Skagway are original late 19th century, but not necessarily in the same place as they were back then.
We actually bought ourselves a pair of gloves each as we’d forgotten to bring any with us….. 🙄 Major contribution to the local economy.
Not uninteresting, I have to say.
And the SIM in my phone is still working!👍
Back to the ship for a light lunch (very nice roast beef sandwich) and a relaxing afternoon. They do have an excellent range of wines here…..
Dinner was taken in the World Café, the buffet option, just for a change. Very good – food quality well up to Viking standards.
Thence to the Star Theatre to hear Enrico, the keyboard player in the Viking Band, play a selection of classical music pieces on a baby grand piano on stage. He was actually rather good.
After this, time for bed. Sitka awaits tomorrow.