Skagway – A walk through the old gold mining town (USA)

Categories: Travel reports, North America, USA, Alaska

The old gold mining town of Skagway was the 3rd stop of our Alaska cruise with Princess Cruises. Since we had already laid out at 6.30 in the morning and our departure was not planned until 8.30 p.m., we had all day to explore the town and the surrounding area. Perfect for us, because we were able to take a bear-watching boat trip to Haines, explore the Old Town of Skagway and take part in a dog sled adventure 🙂


Skagway – the former gold mining town

The history of Skagway dates back to 1887, when the steamship captain William Moore founded a first settlement here called “Mooreville”. The small settlement was an important base for the gold diggers at the great Klondike Gold Rush 10 years later and a starting point for the routes over the White Pass Route or the Chilkoot Trail through the Coast Mountains. The Klondike Gold Rush brought more than a hundred thousand gold prospectors to the Klondike River near Dawson in 1896. The landed gold prospectors renamed Mooreville “Skagway” in reference to the Indian place name Skagua.

The gold rush meant that in 1898, Skagway was already the largest city in Alaska, with a population of about 20,000. Hotels, salons, dance halls and playhouses flourished. But as gold yields shrank two years later, the population declined as miners quickly switched to new finds in Nome, a city in western Alaska. Today, Skagway has less than 1,000 inhabitants, but still retains the charm of an old gold mining town.

Skagway Map, Alaska Cruise, USA; Princess Cruises, Travelreport

A map of Skagway

The port info of Princess Cruises via Skagway

Pier: Railroad Forward Dock
Arrival: 6.30 a.m.
Departure: 8.30 p.m.
Port Info: Download

Every evening you will find on his cabin the harbour information for the coming destination. The flyer gives a very nice overview of the place and inspires with tips for exploring the region. Here you can download the detailed port info of Princess Cruises via Skagway as a .pdf version.

Port Info of Pincess Cruises for Skagway, Alaska, USA, Cruise

The port info of Pincess Cruises for Skagway

The Port & The Railroad Forward Dock

In Skagway we had the pole position with our Royal Princess, because we already laid out here at 6.30 in the morning. Shortly after our mooring manoeuvre, the Norwegian Bliss of the shipping company NCL came into the port, so that on the day “only” 2 ships docked in Skagway. We were really lucky with that, because there are days when up to 5 ships dock here. Accordingly, it can get full in the small town.

In 2019, 35 different ships will dock at the port of Skagway 446 times. This means that about 980,000 cruise passengers come to the city each year. With an annual visit ation of about 1 million, this makes a whopping 98 about cruise tourism. Madness! Although Skagway is one of three cities in southeast Alaska that can be reached by car, most visitors come here by cruise ship.

Arriving at the port, our attention was at the Railroad Dock first on the so-called Ship Signature Wall. This is an impressive wall of solid granite stone that certainly houses one of Alaska’s most unique art collections. Since 1928, the ship’s crews have traditionally immortalized themselves on this wall to commemorate their first trip to Skagway. In the meantime, the “Who’s Who” of the cruise scene, which has sailed through Alaska with their ships for the last 90 years, is represented here.

Directly at the entrance of the port is the starting point of the famous railway line “White Pass and Yukon Railway”,which was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. The railway line has been awarded as an international historical building. This is an award she shares with, for example, the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. The White Pass & Yukon Railway gains almost 1,000 meters of altitude over a distance of 20 miles, while offering unsurpassed views of waterfalls, gorges, glaciers and historic sites.

A walk through the city

From the docks of the cruise ships it is a short way to the center of Skagway (about 1 kilometer). We first walked along Broadway Street, lined with wooden sidewalks and restored buildings that look like they did more than 100 years ago in the days of the gold rush. Many of the buildings belong to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which is maintained by the National Park Service.

The most impressive building in Skagway is the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, which houses the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau. The facade of the building was composed in 1899 of 8,833 pieces of driftwood.

A few streets away is Moore’s Cabin, the oldest building in the city, dating back to 1887. Captain William Moore built the cabin as he guarded his homestead as the city’s founder. The building has since been renovated by the National Park Service.

Since we did not go to any souvenir shops or shops, it took us only about 30 minutes to visit the small town. Surely you can stay here even longer if there is enough time.

On the way back to the ship we passed the railway depot and the Centennial statue. The statue was erected in 1997 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the region. It shows a scene typical of the beginning of a gold prospector’s journey through the small town of Skagway to the White Pass: a tlingit packer showing the way. The tracks of the historic White Pass Yukon Railroad are just behind the statue.

All travelogues from our Alaska Cruise

Our cruise on the Royal Princess took us for a week along the coast from Vancouver north to Whittier (Anchorage). On this great cruise adventure around the northernmost state of the USA we visited the cities of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. We also took a scenic cruise in Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord with breathtaking views of Alaska's glaciers.
Alaska Cruise Princess Cruises
Day 1: Visa – Entry to Canada (eTA Application) & to the USA (ESTA Application)
Day 1: Vancouver – Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots (Canada)
Day 1: Royal Princess – Our ship for the Alaska Cruise
Day 2: Day at Sea
Day 3: Ketchikan – Totemp poles, bald eagles & salmon (USA)
Day 4: Juneau – Things to do in the capital of Alaska (USA)
Day 4: Juneau – Orcas and humpback whales at Whale Watching (USA)
Day 4: Juneau – A trip to mendenhall Glacier (USA)
Day 5: Skagway – A walk through the old gold mining town (USA)
Day 5: Skagway – Musher’s Camp & Dog Sled Adventure (USA)
Day 5: Haines – Bears and bald eagles on the Chilkoot River (USA)
Day 6: Glacier Bay National Park – A Scenic Cruise in Alaska (USA)
Day 7: College Fjord – A Scenic Cruise & Arrival in Whittier (USA)
Day 8: Anchorage – Seward Highway & Alaska Wildlife Center (USA)