Skagway Centennial Statue

Skagway Centennial Statue (HM1B5A)

Location: Skagway, AK 99840 Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon
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Country: United States of America
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N 59° 27.177', W 135° 19.169'

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Skagway was originally spelled S-K-A-G-U-A, a Tlingit Indian word for "windy place." The first people in the area were Tlingits from the Chilkoot and Chilkat villages in the Haines-Klukwan area. From a fish camp in nearby Dyea, they used the Chilloot Trail for trading with the First Nations people of the Yukon Territory. The windy Skagway valley was favored for hunting mountain goats and bear, but no one settled here until 1887. That June, Skookum Jim, a Tlingit from the Carcross-Tagish area, encountered members fo the William Ogilvie expedition, a Canadian survey party that came north to map the country. Captain William Moore, a member of the party, was persuaded by Skookum Jim to follow him up a lower pass through the mountains, while the others took the Chilkoot route. Leaving this beach, the two journeyed up the Skagway valley to Lake Bennett, meeting the other party seven days later. The two men were excited and extolled the advantage of this new route through the mountains. Ogilvie at once named it for Sir Thomas White, a Canadian government minister. Moore had visions of a port city served by a railroad, and returned to this valley with his son Bernard in October 1887. They built a cabin and a wharf, and waited. A small number of prospectors had been entering the north country searching for gold since the 1870's. It was only a matter of time until a great stampede would bring many more. In August 1896, Tlingits Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie, along with George Carmack of California, discovered a large amount of gold in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River, some 600 miles from here. The creek was renamed Bonanza, and when word of this strike reached the outside world in July 1897, the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898 was on!

For centuries, the Tlingits controlled these passes. The tide of stampeders forced them to give up control, but native packers still guided would-be prospectors over these mountains, and they were paid handsomely for their work. This sculpture represents a typical scene at the start of the Chilkoot or White Pass trails in August 1897. The Tlingit packer, in his 40's, has centuries of knowledge about the route from his ancestors. He wears traditional clothing, made of moosehide and bear fur, and carries a pack made from the skin of a mountain goat, held to his back by a tumpline strapped around his chest. He leads a 30 year-old stampeder, just off a ship from Puget Sound, who is determined to reach the gold fields. His pack is a wood-frame box, and outside are strapped his hunting knife, shovel and gold pan, which he hopes will gather riches before winter. With eyes wide open and an eager smile, the stampeder has no apprehension about the rigors of the trail ahead.

Sculptor: Chuck Buchanan

Statue Design Input: Si Dennis Sr., Richard Dick, Marian Katzeek Kelm, Roy Minter, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, John Svenson, Dr. Bob White.

Skagway Centennial Committee: Clay Alderson, Jeff Brady, Irene Henricksen, John McDermott, Carl Mulvihill, Stan Selmer.

Centennial Park Architect - Jones and Jones; Survey - David Miller; Contractor - Hunz and Hunz; Funding - City of Skagway, White Pass & Yukon Route, donations.
HM NumberHM1B5A
Series This marker is part of the Markers Attached to Sculpture series
Year Placed1997
Placed BySkagway Centennial Committee
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 5:45pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)8V E 481886 N 6590533
Decimal Degrees59.45295000, -135.31948333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 59° 27.177', W 135° 19.169'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds59° 27' 10.62" N, 135° 19' 10.14" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)907
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 271 Broadway, Skagway AK 99840, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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