Experience a digital ride up the White Pass Railroad with a 360 degree view from the train conductor’s seat. In this condensed video, you will see some of the highlights along the tracks as you pass by blissful lakes, glistening waterfalls, vintage tunnels, and mountains that surround canyon views. The 20-mile railroad track has been rated one of the most scenic journeys in the world.
As you embark on the Skagway White Pass Railroad, you will feel as if you are going back in time. The history dates all the way back to 1896, when the first few gold flakes were found in Bonanza Creek located in the Klondike region in Canada. A rush for gold began. The best access point was by boat to Skagway, Alaska followed by a 30-mile hike over the Chilkoot Pass into Canada.
The Chilkoot Pass was extremely treacherous, and many lost their lives on the journey to strike it rich. For that reason, two First Nations companions, Captain William Moore and Skookum Jim, decided to head north over the uncharted ground to seek an easier route to gold. They reached Lake Bennett near the headwaters of the Yukon River. The new potential route was named the White Pass, for the Canadian Minister of the Interior, Sir Thomas White.
Since the options to get to the gold at the White Pass were so dangerous, the decision to develop alternative methods of travel became a top priority. Sir Thomas Tancrede and Michael J. Heney joined forces to start the railroad project that required money, talent, and vision. The White Pass and Yukon Railroad Company organized in April 1898, and construction of the railroad started on May 28, 1898. Needless to say, they were eager to get the railroad built.
There were many obstacles during the construction of the White Pass Railroad. Some obstacles included snowdrifts, timber issues, and drilling a 250-foot tunnel on the north side of Tunnel Mountain at mile point fifteen. In order to drill the tunnel, workers were required to rappel on ropes to insert dynamite into the side of the sheer rock, which was a dangerous task.
Despite the challenges, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad operated their first train from Skagway to a point four miles north of town. Tens of thousands of men with 450 tons of explosives had overcome the harsh climate and geography to create this wonder of steel and timber
The Railroad Today
For decades, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad carried significant amounts of ore and gold dust to Skagway to be loaded onto ore ships. When world metal prices plummeted in 1982, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad was forced to suspend operations.
Today, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad has reinvented itself as a tourist attraction. It reopened in 1988 to operate as a narrow gauge excursion railroad between Skagway and the White Pass Summit. You can experience the history firsthand by taking the Skagway White Pass Railroad Summit Excursion & Train Tour which follows the same journey into Canada.
On this excursion, you will be seated in an antique passenger coach with panoramic views as you retrace the original route to the White Pass Summit located in Canada. This adventure enhances the rich history that involved so many stories of villagers trying to strike it rich. The windows in each train car allow you to enjoy the full views of the 2,865-foot climb to the top of the White Pass Summit. The White Pass train will take you past the Klondike Trail of 1898 that’s worn into the rocks as a permanent tribute to the thousands of souls who passed away in the search of fortune. Make sure you keep your eyes alert for some of the picturesque landmarks that line the route including Bridal Veil Falls, Dead Horse Gulch, and Inspiration Point.