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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Skagway and the Days of '98

I think of Skagway as Alaska's Disneyland because of its carefully designed turn-of-the-century look and feel. However, unlike Disneyland, there is a real history there that can be accessed just by noticing the old buildings like this one that belonged to "Soapy" Smith, the main villain of Skagway. The history that is preserved there by the residents and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park Service is the story of the few short years when Skagway was the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada. Then, greed and lust and violence were the norm for thousands as they landed in Skagway. Dance hall girls, confidence men, gamblers, and criminals of all kinds competed to separate the would be miners from their money before they headed for the gold fields on narrow trails carrying a ton of supplies. But not long after that short burst of what can happen when people are blinded, Skagway became a town of gardens and schools and churches and snug houses. And it still is. The light overcame the darkness in a few years. And that really gives me hope for the world.

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