Skagway is located at the northern end of the Inside Passage
on the Lynn Canal in the Southeastern Alaska Panhandle. We
are in a narrow valley between mountain ranges. The major
portion of Skagway is just 4 1/2 blocks wide and 23 blocks long. Our little town is a Gold Rush
Town founded in 1897, and has
survived a variety of economic booms and busts. For more than
80 years, we have been home to the White Pass & Yukon Route
railroad, a narrow gauge railroad that did extend 110 miles
from the tidewaters of Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. The railroad ceased year round operations in 1982, and like
the town, is now primarily a summer tourist destination. Although the present economy of the town is dependent on the
visitor industry, we are always looking for ways to diversify.
The fall, winter and spring months are quiet for Skagway. The population of approximately 800 spends the winter attending meetings, cross-country skiing, bowling in the Elks' two lane bowling alley, watching TV and participating in a variety of other community activities. The handsome new school was built in 1984, housing K-12. Students compete with other regional schools in track, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, and band to name a few of the activities.
Churches are well represented in our community and include Catholic, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Bahai, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Social organizations are varied, including American Legion, Elks, Eagles, Masons and related auxiliaries. Our clinic is staffed with three nurse practioners. The closest hospital is over 100 miles away in either Juneau to the south or Whitehorse to the north. Skagway has one grocery store, one bank, one hardware store, one gas station, two year round restaurants and several variety shops.
Climate - Everyone wonders about our Alaskan climate. Skagway has a cool, temperate marine environment with our temperature being 10 degrees cooler than Seattle in both the summer and winter. Our rain/snowfall is approximately 33.09" per year. Yes, that is total precipitation. The name Skagway means"Home of the NorthWind" in Tlingit (Indian), and it is appropriate. We have a wind that can be fierce at times, significantly lowering the temperatures with the wind-chill factor. But our air is pure and the water is wonderful to taste, mountains are green in the summer, snow covered in the winter, and once in a while you will catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights dancing across the sky.
Skagway's economy is much like that of the state of Alaska. After several years of being blessed with money from the sale of oil on the North Slope, the fall of world oil prices and depleting supply has forced the state and its communities to cut back their services and search for new sources of income. Alaska always needs specific skills and Skagway is no different. However, it is more difficult for a person to come to Skagway and find opportunity waiting for them. The year round jobs are very limited. But Alaska, Skagway included, is always open to newcomers. That person just needs to be prepared for their travel north, knowing this land continues to be only for the most hardy.
There is no land for homesteading. Very little land is even available to purchase. As with most of the state, the majority of surrounding land is owned by the municipality, state or federal government. There is no real estate agency in Skagway as very little property is available, most is sold 'by owner'.
Summer employment is plentiful. There is no employment service available. The gift shops all do their own hiring. Housing is very, very limited, and usually spoken for by February of each year. The summer population jumps to about 2,000, almost triple that of the winter months. We expect over 900,000 visitors during the summer months, most by cruise ship. However, more and more are independent travelers.
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park incorporates their offices with a portion of our downtown business district. Their historic restoration activities combined with the efforts of local property owners add much to the attractive qualities of our town. A number of restored homes are located in our residential neighborhoods as well.
We hope this information has been helpful. Thank you for contacting our organization and we do hope you will come and visit our fair city. Again, if we can be of further assistance do not hesitate to write, call, fax or e-mail, we will try our best to answer your questions.