Community Development

Current Population: 
Approximately 1,065 – year round
Approximately 2,500 – May to Sept.

Pronunciation: (SKAG-way)
Incorporation Type: Municipality of Skagway Borough

Borough Located In: Upper Lynn Canal
School District: Skagway City Schools
Regional Native Corporation:  Sealaska Corporation

Local Services and Facilites

Emergency Number: 911
Skagway Police Department/City Jail: 983-2232
Skagway Volunteer Fire Department: Fire Fighting; EMS; Search & Rescue: 983-2450
Court/Magistrate: State Magistrate; District Court: 983-2368
Department of Homeland Security: 983-3144
US Customs and Border Patrol: 983-2325

Solid Waste and Recycling Directory

Skagway Family Recreation Center: 983-2679
(Rock Wall, Gym, Yoga & Dance Studio, Outdoor Ice Rink, Weight & Cardio Rooms, Multi-Purpose Room, Skate Park)
Senior Services: Senior Lunch, Transportation: 983-3664
Museum: City “Trail of ’98” Museum: 983-2420
Public Library: 983-2665
Day Cares:
Little Dippers (seasonal): 983-2785
Little Cherubs: 983-2386
Business Assistance: Skagway Development Corporation: 983-3414

Communications

Local Phone Service
Alaska Power & Telephone (AP&T)

Long Distance Phone
AP&T; AT&T/Alascom

Cellular Phone Service
Cellular One; Alaska Communications Systems (ACS)

Internet Service Provider
AP&T

Radio Stations
KHNS-FM (Haines); KINY-FM (Juneau);
XM and Sirius Satellite Radio

TV Stations
KTOO; ARCS

Cable/Satelite TV
Skagway Cable TV; Dish Netwok

Culture

Skagway is a homogenous community with a population made up of 94% white and 6% Alaska Natives. The Skagway Traditional Council is a federally recognized tribe and the opening of the tribal house in December 2004 has given the tribal members a much needed visual presence in the community. It is expected that traditional Tlingit (clink-it) activities will continue to occur including Tlingit language courses, medicinal plant instruction, and cultural celebrations and that opportunities for new activities will be explored.

Skagway’s identity is truly based on its role as the “Gateway to the Klondike” during the Klondike Gold Rush in Dawson City, Yukon back in 1897-1900. Both Skagway and Dyea (die-ee) were the communities at the heads of the White Pass and Chilkoot Trails, respectively. These trails were traditional trading routes into the interior and later became the primary transportation routes to the Klondike.

With the completion of the White Pass& Yukon Route Railroad (WP&YR) and after the gold rush Skagway’s primary role as a transshipment port and railroad town was established and forged the community’s character until modern times. The railroad played an important role in the construction of the Alaska-Canada Highway (Alcan) during WWII which opened in November 1942.

Skagway continues to be a major transshipment port but now the goods and services moved tend to be cruise ship passengers, and tourists in general as well as continuing to be a freight hub for the Yukon Territory.

History

“Skagua” or “Shgagwei” was the Tlingit (clink-it) name, which means “a windy place with white caps on water” and often referred to as “home of the north wind”. Capt. William Moore and Skookum Jim, a Tlingit from the Carcross-Tagish area of the Yukon Territory, discovered the White Pass route into Interior Canada in June 1887. Capt. Moore and his son Bernard staked a claim and built a cabin on the waterfront in October 1887. They called the place “Mooresville.”

In July 1897, gold was discovered in the Klondike, and the first boatload of prospectors landed. By October 1897, according to a Northwest Mounted Police Report, Skagway “had grown from a concourse of tents to a fair-sized town with well-laid-out streets and numerous frame buildings, stores, saloons, gambling houses, dance houses and a population of about 20,000.” Five thousand stampeders alone landed in February 1898, according to Customs Office records.

Two trails were used by the gold seekers to reach the headwaters of the Yukon River. The 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail began at nearby Dyea; and the 40-mile White Pass Trail began at Skagway and paralleled the present-day route of the White Pass & Yukon Railway. Thousands of men carried supplies up the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, or took the 40-mile White Pass trail to Lake Bennett, where they built boats to float down the Yukon River to Dawson City and the gold fields, 500 miles distant. In 1898 a 14-mile, steam-operated tramway was constructed, which eased the burdens of those able to pay.

Skagway became the first incorporated City in Alaska in 1900; the population was 3,117 at that time, the second-largest settlement in Alaska. Tales of fortune seekers, lawlessness and Soapy Smith are legendary. Once the gold rush ended in 1900, Skagway might have become a ghost town if not for the White Pass and Yukon Railroad construction in 1898. The railroad was the first in Alaska, and provided freight, fuel, and transportation to Whitehorse and served the Anvil Gold Mines in the Yukon. It employed many locals until 1982, when the railroad closed. Construction of the Klondike Hwy in 1979 gave Skagway a link to the Alaska Highway and to the rest of North America.

Climate

Skagway experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Average summer temperatures range from 45 to 67; winter temperatures average 18 to 37.

Skagway receives less rain than is typical of Southeast Alaska, averaging 26 inches of precipitation per year, and 49 inches of snow.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Ave. Max.
Temperature (F)
26.3 33.5 40.2 50.9 59.1 65.9 67.7 65.6 57.7 48.1 36.4 32.4 48.6
Ave. Min.
Temperature (F)
16.4 22.3 27.3 32.6 39.9 47.0 50.4 48.7 44.0 36.9 26.5 22.9 34.6
Ave. Total
Precipitation (in)
2.19 1.99 1.55 1.13 1.37 1.13 1.10 2.17 4.06 4.35 3.08 2.48 26.61
Ave. Total
Snow Fall (in)
14.2 9.7 3.3 1.0 0.1 0 0 0 0 1.2 8.6 11.1 49.1
Ave. Snow
Depth (in)
2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.0 1.0 0