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THE WHITE PASS


On the Klondike Highway between Carcross and the White Pass Summit

“Give me enough dynamite and snoose* and I’ll build a railroad to Hell.” So spoke ‘Big’ Michael J. Heney, an experienced railroad contractor talking about building the White Pass and Yukon Railroad with Sir Thomas Tancrede who represented investors in London.

That was in 1898. The White Pass was discovered two years earlier by Captain William Moore who, along with Skookum Jim went looking for an alternative to the rough and rugged Chilcoot Pass to get to the Yukon gold fields. He named the Pass in honour of for the Canadian Minister of the Interior at the time, Sir Thomas White.

The WP&YR near White Pass Summit

Started in May of 1898, the railroad was completed in 1900 when crews working south from Whitehorse met crews working north from Skagway at the town of Carcross. For the next 80 or so years the narrow gauge WP&YR carried goods back and forth between Whitehorse and Skagway. The train still runs, now carrying tourists from the cruise docks at Skagway to the town of Carcross. The section from there to Whitehorse is no longer in use. A more complete story of the building of this railroad can be found at https://wpyr.com/history/

The last section of the Klondike Highway, from Carcross to Skagway was completed in 1978, and roughly follows the route of the WP&YR. This is what we will be exploring on May 5, 2020, day 4 of our Yukon Gold Photography Tour. The drive to White Pass Summit traverses a barren but breathtaking area. Stops along the way may include the Robinson Flag Station, Tutshi Lake, the Chilkoot Trail National Historic site, Bernard Lake and Summit Lake. And of course anywhere along the highway that takes our breath away! Note too where the White Trail Summit is located; just north-east of the Canada/U.S. border…in the province of British Columbia!

Barry has a couple of topics along the way to help you make the most of this beautifully photogenic route; ‘Metering for Success’ and, a related subject, ‘Using Graduated ND Filters.’

Robinson Flag Station along the now closed section of the WP&YR between Whitehorse and Carcross

Won’t you join us for what is sure to be an amazing seven days photographing in the beautiful Yukon Territory (and a corner of B.C.)? Although it’s the smallest of the three Canadian Territories, it’s still way too vast to explore in its entirety in the short time we have. But we’ll give you a taste! Whitehorse, Carcross and the Carcross Desert (see our blog post from Feb. 19, 2018; 'Where is the Worlds Smallest Desert?'), Haines Junction, Kluane National Park and points in between. Prices start at CAD $2,749 plus GST. Contact us for the full itinerary.

*Snoose: as per the book The Lumberjacks, Snoose is “A damp Copenhagen snuff for chewing. “To give her Snoose” in B.C. meant to give her power.” If you find something that indicates what Heney might have meant by ‘snoose’, let us know!

Willow Ptarmigan


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