Skagway, Alaska

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Skagway (pronounced /ˈskæɡweɪ/) is a first-class borough in Alaska, on the Alaska Panhandle. It was formerly a city first incorporated in 1900 that was re-incorporated as a borough on June 25, 2007.[1] As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 862. However, the population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 visitors.[1]

The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and the tourist trade is a big part of the business of Skagway. The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, part of the area's mining past, is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer months. Skagway is also part of the setting for Jack London's book The Call of the Wild.

Skagway (originally spelled Skaguay) is from the Tlingit name for the area, "Skagua" or "Shgagwèi" meaning "a windy place with white caps on the water."[2][3]

Contents

History

The area around present-day Skagway was inhabited by Tlingit people from prehistoric times. They fished and hunted in the waters and forests of the area and had become prosperous by trading with other groups of people on the coast and in the interior.

One prominent resident of early Skagway was William "Billy" Moore, a former steamboat captain. As a member of an 1887 boundary survey expedition, he had made the first recorded investigation of the pass over the Coast Mountains, which later became known as White Pass. He believed that gold lay in the Klondike because it had been found in similar mountain ranges in South America, Mexico, California, and British Columbia. In 1887, he and his son Ben claimed a 160-acre (650,000 m2) homestead at the mouth of the Skagway River in Alaska. Moore settled in this area because he believed it provided the most direct route to the potential goldfields. They built a log cabin, a sawmill, and a wharf in anticipation of future gold prospectors passing through.

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