We left Carmacks this morning for the relatively short drive south to Whitehorse, which we reached well in time for lunch.
Somewhere along the way, we passed the ruins of one off the old roadhouses that were used in the stage coaching days. The information board described how one of the coach drivers, William Donnenworth would leave a box containing 225 kg of gold on his stage coach overnight, with no fear of robbery, while he slept in the road house. Those must really must have been the good old days!
A little further down the road, we stopped at the Braeburn Roadhouse which is apparently ‘world famous’ for its cinnamon buns. It is located east of Braeburn Lake and north of Braeburn Mountain, on the path of the former Dawson Overland Trail, which was built in 1902 between Whitehorse and Dawson City. We were easily talked into buying a bun which we partly ate for morning tea. Very nice! We had some more for dessert tonight and it’s a certainly that we will have some more for breakfast tomorrow. We struck up a conversation with the owner who had friend in Melbourne who kept him in touch with the AFL competition. He even had a football on a shelf behind the counter. The poor sucker barracked for Essendon!. We also had a chat with a couple of other Australians from Echuca who were spending three months travelling around the USA.
As we have been driving, I have mistaken dozens of on-coming vehicles for buses as this is the profile that they present from the front. In fact they are large RVs (Motor Homes, or Campers to us), This is camping at the height of luxury. Many of these RVs tow a small car and some even tow a trailer with the car inside. Some, who’s owners are keen on fishing tow boats. We don’t see many campers this size in Australia. They are expensive and impressive vehicles.
I had expected Whitehorse to be a cute little town, similar to Dawson City. Instead, it is rather bland wth many industrial buildings, multiple traffic lights, parking meters and little character at all.We found a place to eat lunch and then had a quick look around the city.
It is the original terminus of the old White Pass Railway that ran from Skagway on the Inside Passage in Alaska. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the White Pass & Yukon Route was completed in 1900. Known as “The Scenic Railway of the World”, it took the labour of 35,000 men, using only black blasting powder and crude tools, to hew out the 110-mile three-foot narrow gauge line that originally stretched from Skagway to Whitehorse. The railway was given an award as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1994, similar to the Statue of Liberty and the Panama Canal.
In the park by the riverside is the SS Klondike. The first steamer of this name was built in 1921 and had a cargo capacity of 270 metric tonnes (without having to push a barge). She ran aground in June 1936 in ‘The Thirty Mile’ section of the Yukon River. Some of her materials were salvaged to build Klondike II which now resides in the park.
Klondike II carried freight until 1950 but was decommissioned after the highway and its bridges were completed. In an attempt to save Klondike II, she was converted into a cruise ship but this venture shut down in 1955 due to lack of interest. The ship was eventually donated to Parks Canada and was gradually restored. On 24 June 1967, she was declared a National Historic Site of Canada and is now open during the summer as a tourist attraction.
We finished the day with a look at some of the large stores in town and Jill got her long awaited dose of retail therapy. We didn’t buy anything other than some tins of mints, but it was interesting to look around and see many very different products for sale.