Tuesday, September 4, 2012

White Pass and Yukon RR

The original wooden swing bridge over the Yukon River still is in use in Carcross.
There's been no work on the S&C for the last couple of weeks. My wife and have been on an Alaska cruise. The highlight of last week was the trip over the White Pass & Yukon Railroad from Carcross, Yukon Territory to Skagway, Alaska. This 67-mile ride was spectacular. As most of you probably know, the 3-foot gauge railroad was built in 1898-1900 as a reaction to the gold strikes in the Klondike.

When the 1901 steel bridge was bypassed in 1969, the railroad drilled tunnel and erected this trestle. Note the water barrels.
A typical train on the WP&Y.
From the wharves at Skagway, the railroad climbs along a roadbed blasted out of the solid rock rivaling any Rocky Mountain railroad. Significant wood trestling is still used in several spots. The ride even had a stop for lunch at a railroad eating house, something very reminiscent of nineteenth century pre-dining car railroading. Although the locomotives were diesels, the coaches certainly went back to the 1800s. We rode in a coach of unknown parentage built in 1889. Apparently the line bought up used equipment from narrow-gauge railroads being abandoned to provide the needed rolling stock.

Crossing the Skagway River near Skagway.
According to the conductor, there are five trains scheduled for a short trip in the morning and another five in the afternoon with only one going the full length of the road. All dispatching is done by track warrants in the U.S. and by a similar system (OCS) in Canada. Although there was no modeling done, it was a great trip and a great cruise.


  1. Well that's too bad that these rail excursions are delaying the expansion of the mighty Stockton & Copperopolis. But as a dutiful husband that you are, its understandable. Here's wishing you luck with less of these excursions and more of pushing the railhead forward!

  2. Cool trip and cool photos. I've been trying to convince my wife to take an Alaska Cruise White Pass & Yukon ride, to no avail.

    Greg Amer
    The Industrial Lead