Skagway, Alaska with its summertime population of just over 900 may seem like just a sleepy backwater tourist depot. And that’s what it is..now. But don’t let its present incarnation fool you. The city was once the trail-head for the Klondike and white pass routes during the Yukon gold rush and had a population of almost forty thousand. Many perspicacious businessmen realized there was more money to be made selling supplies to the would-be miners than could ever be made in the off chance of finding any gold.
The Canadian government had strict demands for anyone crossing the pass into Canada and required each miner to purchase supplies and food in advance which totaled over one ton. While some did find wealth in the minefields, many more businesses became prosperous providing supplies as well a the saloons and brothels that opened as well.
By far the most successful business to come from the gold rush though was the White Pass Railway, Completed in 1900, the railway ran the 107 mile Klondike trail from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon. The railroad still runs today as a tourist attraction.
I was on an Alaska cruise that made a stop at Skagway that offered the train excursion. I was originally uninterested but the lady at the excursions desk mentioned that they stop at the Tutshi Sledding Academy where they train the sled dogs for the Iditarod. The Iditarod is a massive sled dog race and the dogs are well known for their strength and stamina. This is the summer home for these dogs and then she said the magic words “There will be puppies” Sold!
The rail portion of the journey went as far as the US-Canadian border, there we rode on a bus to the Academy.
The sledding school had a nice but small museum included that had some exhibits covering local history and how the dog sled races began.
The tourist was encouraged to interact freely with both the puppies and their parents.
And here are the puppies
The academy is located in Carcross Yukon which has a nice town square with decorated buildings and a totem pole.
Definitely a worthwhile excursion that left my tail waging