Cruising Alaska Off-Season — Skagway Architecture, Trains, and Stuff


As you’ll recall from Monday’s article, we’re doing a photo tour of Skagway, Alaska over this week and next. Most of this series will concentrate on the sights in and around this charming town, which Ursula and I just adore visiting. But Wednesday of next week I have a special treat, as I’ll be reviewing our favorite jeweler, who replaced our previous favorite here in El Paso when that jeweler decided to shut down the family business after 103 years. Meanwhile, let us begin where we left off with a little recap of the sights walking into Skagway from the cruise dock: The Ship Signature Wall and the White Pass & Yukon Railway:

Skagway’s Ship Signature Wall
White Pass & Yukon Railway

On this walk, if you take the shortest route on Congress Way, you’ll come into Skagway where Congress Way rounds a bend to the left and becomes 2nd Street. It’s here that you’ll start to pick up on the frontier vibe Skagway exudes. We’re headed toward Broadway, but before we get there you’ll notice these railroad related buildings on the left side of 2nd Street:

White Pass & Yukon ticket office on the left and middle; Railroad Building (yellow); Railway station (red, far right)

That yellow building you see above is part of a National Historic Park. It’s the old White Pass & Yukon Railway Administration building, and today it serves as a museum for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Let’s take a closer look at that one:

Railroad Administration Building, now a museum

As you can see, this structure dates back to 1900. Here’s a closeup of the cornice which announces that fact:

The original Railroad Administration Building for the White Pass & Yukon Railway

Next to the administration building is the original train depot, which predates all the other railroad related structures on this site. This is also the visitor center for the aforementioned Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park:

Old railroad station, now the visitor center for the national historic park

Hanging a right onto Broadway we pass the Red Onion Saloon (and brothel museum), the exterior of which I’ll show you next Monday. Right now I’m more focused on presenting to you a very unique façade made up of over 8,800 pieces of driftwood. This is the the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, a.k.a., “Camp Skagway No. 1,” and it is also part of the historic park. The “A” and “B” on the front façade stands for “Arctic Brotherhood,” and “Camp Skagway No. 1” is visible above the windows to the left. The “1899” above the door is not the address (this is Skagway, after all; no need for numbers that large). Rather, it is the founding year for this fraternal organization. Today, this building hosts the Skagway Convention and Visitors Center:

Arctic Brotherhood Building (now the Skagway Convention and Visitors Center)

Look closely a the top and you’ll see that the club’s symbol is an “AB” inside a gold pan containing gold nuggets. But it’s all that intricately placed driftwood that gets your attention as you approach:

Arctic Brotherhood driftwood façade

Before we continue northeast on Broadway, let us detour in the other direction for a moment. If we had turned left onto Broadway from 2nd, rather than right, we would have come across the Skagway Centennial Statue. This bronze statue depicts a native Tligit guiding a Klondike Gold Rush prospector into the wilderness. You might want to swing by before you head back out of town towards your cruise ship. Otherwise you’ll miss this:

Skagway Centennial Statue

Okay, so let’s continue our trek northward along Skagway’s Broadway. Looking back toward the Arctic Brotherhood building, just past the historic Golden North Hotel, you can get this view of the cornices on some of Skagway’s more iconic structures:

Red Onion Saloon (far left); Arctic Brotherhood; Golden North Hotel

Don’t get so caught up in the rustic architecture that you forget to look at the mountains surrounding Skagway. That’s especially true in the off-season, when those mountains are topped by fresh snow:

Looking up from the streets of Skagway

Got a sweet tooth? Want some Klondike gold nuggets as a souvenir? Yeah… Skagway has you covered there, as well:

Miner’s Gems (311 Broadway) and Sweet Tooth Café (315 Broadway)

And some more charming Skagway buildings almost directly across the street from the Golden North Hotel looking northeast:

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