Where RV Now? travel blog

 

 

 

 

 


When we woke up this morning, the ship was moored at the Railroad Dock in Skagway.

The name Skagway comes from the Tinglit name for the area, Skagwua, meaning a "wet place with white caps on the water." The city boasted a population of 920 for the 2010 census, but the population doubles during the summer season when almost 900,000 visitors come to town, over three quarters from cruise ships.

Skagway became a boomtown when gold was discovered in 1896 when up to 1000 miners a week passed through on the way to White Horse and Bennett Lake. I think more people made their fortunes setting up businesses to outfit the miners and cater to their various vices of women and drink. There were a few con artists as well, the most famous being Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith during 1897-98. He once set up a telegraph line so prospectors could send messages back home for a cost of $5.00, but there was no actual telegraph in operation until 1901. He also had a string of of low-lifes who swindled the miners with cards, dice and the shell game (find the pea!). Soapy met his end in a shootout in July of 1898. By 1899 the on-rush of gold seekers had dwindled and the Skagway economy took a down turn. By 1900, the gold rush was almost over.

I have to mention the Red Onion Saloon. Built in 1897, it was one of the finest bordellos in Skagway and is now registered as a National Historic Place. It continues to operate as a tourist attraction, with a restaurant, bar and souvenir shop inside. One of the "brothel's madam's will give of tour of the upstairs portion for those interested. Alas, we did not go in because of time limitations.



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