Tuesday, August 24, 2010

White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, Alaska, Canada

White Pass and Yukon Route Railway
Skagway, Alaska

The White Pass & Yukon Route train descends the narrow gauge track back to Skagway, Alaska.

Postmarked in 2010 with a 28 cent stamp

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The White Pass and Yukon Route is a Canadian and U.S. Class II narrow gauge railroad linking the port of Skagway, Alaska with Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon, Canada. An isolated system, it has no direct connection to any other railroad.

The line was born of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. The most popular route taken by prospectors to the gold fields in Dawson City was a treacherous route from the nearest port in Skagway or nearby Dyea, Alaska across the mountains to the Canadian border at the summit of the Chilkoot Pass or the White Pass. There, the prospectors would not be allowed across by the Canadian authorities unless they had a full ton of supplies with them, which for most required several trips up and down the passes before entry to Canada could be obtained. There was a need for a better transportation scheme than the pack horses used over the White Pass or people's backs over the Chilkoot Pass. This need generated numerous railroad schemes. In 1897, the Canadian government received 32 proposals for Yukon railroads, most of which were never realized, however construction started on this line in May 1898.

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