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THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2011

White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, Yukon to Alaska

Built in twenty-six months, the White Pass & Yukon Route is a narrow gauge railway which operates between Carcross, Yukon Territory and Skagway, Alaska. Recognized as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the narrow tracks, tunnels and trestles offer unparalleled views. During the Gold Rush of 1898, an immediate need for a safe route from the port city of Skagway to the Klondike led to the construction of this scenic railway which passes through Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon Territory, following the route of the Klondike Gold Rush.

White Pass & Yukon Route Train waiting at the Station in Lake Bennett, British ColumbiaWhen word of the Klondike Gold Rush spread to the world, thousands made their way north to seek their fortunes. For some, the trail was too much. Prospectors could choose one of two routes - the Chilkoot Trail which led from Dyea, Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia or the White Pass Route which was later used as the basis for the railway. Both trails were difficult and dangerous as Canadian Mounties required all coming into the Yukon to have enough food and supplies to last them a year. These required goods forced prospectors to hike the trail several times. Some died and many gave up - but for those who made it, they faced the possibility of riches beyond their wildest dreams. Early transportation methods of supplies was carrying the weight up the pass or buying pack animals. Thousands of animals died as inexperienced prospectors refused or didn't know to buy feed and the dangerous trail caused animals to stumble to their deaths.

In 1898, a narrow gauge railroad was envisioned and in a mere twenty-six months it was blasted into the mountainside, providing safe transport from the docks of Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. For over one hundred years it has served as a passenger service, freight line and most recently, a tourist attraction. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad is designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Its impressive construction feats include climbs of almost 3,000 feet in 20 miles, grades up to 3.9%, turns of 16 degrees, two tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles.

Tickets for the WP&YR railway are available on both sides of the border. The train no longer departs from Whitehorse, however, bus transport is available to Carcross and Fraser - one of the two departure points on the Canadian side, or, at the railway station in Skagway. Carcross Trains stop at Lake Bennett, British Columbia for lunch and the opportunity to see the historic St. Andrews wooden church, old town site and the northern trail head of the fifty-three kilometre Chilkoot Trail.

The Duchess Engine on display at Carcross Station, Yukon Territory.Conductor waiting for White Pass & Yukon Route train at Carcross Station, Yukon Territory. Yellow and Green White Pass and Yukon Route engine at Carcross Station, Yukon Territory.Railcar #222 - the Lindeman, a 1898 restored passenger car.Inside Railcar #222, the Lindeman, on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.Travelling along Lake Bennett on the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gauge railway.Lake Bennett train station on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.Lake Bennett Station in British Columbia.Lunch at Lake Bennett during the White Pass & Yukon Route railway excursion.White Pass & Yukon Route train waiting at Lake Bennett Station.St. Andrews wooden church at Lake Bennett, British Columbia.Northern trail head of the Chilkoot Trail at Lake Bennett, British Columbia.Views from hiking trails in Lake Bennett, British Columbia.Remains of the Trail of 98 as seen from the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.Crossing over a trestle on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.River valley and trestle along the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.Speeding along on the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gauge railway.White Pass & Yukon Route railway snowplow in Skagway, Alaska.






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