VNL Travels 2013 travel blog































































Monday, July 15, 2013 – Side Trip to Eagle on the Taylor Highway

We wanted to take a side trip to see Eagle since none of us had been there before. We had heard the road there was in a pretty bad condition but actually it was better than the Top-of-the-World Highway on the US side. A 69 mile road of winding with S-curves, blind hairpin curves, soft shoulders and even worst no shoulders with a steep drop down way down to the Valley below. It took us several hours to get there but it was worth the time. The Taylor Highway provides access to the historic Fortymile Gold Fields, made famous in Jack London novels. It’s a beautiful road that joins the Top of the World Highway. It is closed in winter.

Major discoveries in 1886 and 1887 set off interior Alaska’s first gold rush. Communities like Chicken and Jack Wade near Walker Fork campground rose almost overnight, and miners quickly wore a series of trails between Eagle and the mining towns and camps. These trails later became wagon roads that, in turn, became parts of the Taylor Highway, built during the winter of 1945-46 and completed in 1951. Piles of mine tailings, abandoned gold dredges and sluice boxes, and overgrown ditches that once channeled water to the placer mines. We noticed actives mines dotting this route which reminded us of the lure of gold from those days gone by.

In 2004 and 2005 wildfires burned much of the spruce forest along the highway and we noticed new growth coming back. Brilliant Fireweed and clumps of willows along with birch trees are replacing the burned-over spruce.

In several places along the road, we noticed subsistence use signs posted by BLM marking boundaries of a special type of hunting area. This allows rural residents of Alaska to hunt game such as caribou in these areas. They must have an Alaska hunting license and comply with seasons and bag limits.

Eagle is located on a bend of the Yukon River, it is an incorporated city since 1897, when the US Army responded to demands for law and order during the Klondike Gold Rush and built Fort Egbert. We explore the old Fort which is a National Historic Landmark. On the fort grounds, we picked handfuls of wild strawberries and ate them. Yum! They are very small but they pack a really strong strawberry flavor.

We visited the National Park service and BLM visitor center and then had lunch at their viewing area on the bend of the Yukon River. What a beautiful place for our picnic lunch. The Yukon River, is almost 2,000 miles long, and is the third longest river in the US. There are more than 3,000 rivers and over three million lakes in Alaska.

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