15 - Denali National Park to Dawson City, YT
via Fairbanks, Tok and Eagle, AK
Monday, August 3, 1998

Well, the clouds moved in during the night and it started to sprinkle as I packed up to leave. The general overcast sprinkled most of the morning as I drove north to Fairbanks after a FABULOUS FOUR DAYS in and around Denali National Park - I feel really fortunate.

I stopped briefly at Nenana to see the Railroad Museum - nice but nothing special.

Continued on to Fairbanks and the same Motel 8 I had stopped at a little over a week ago. Resupplied, bought some more film and caught up on email, etc.

Tuesday, August 4, 1998

Headed east to Delta Junction, AK and started back tracking on the Alaska Highway.

Top of the World Highway Map

Started out cloudy but I seemed to be moving ahead of the front and the sun was out as I passed though Tok, Alaska.

Nothing special in the way of scenery - varied forest and a few ponds made it more interesting than some stretches.

East of Tok, at Tetlin Junction, turned north on the Taylor Highway toward Eagle, Alaska - good paved road for 23 miles, then super gravel for the next 41 miles to the town of Chicken, Alaska.

Chicken was a big mining town once. The story goes that the miners wanted to name the town Ptarmigan but they couldn't spell it, so they named it Chicken.

The road narrows here and is more winding and a little rougher but still a good gravel road.

Big highway tour buses drive this road to Eagle. Nice views of the South Fork River. I stopped for the night at Walker Fork BLM Campground .

Wednesday, August 5, 1998

Continued north toward Eagle, Alaska. Made a short stop at the Jack Wade No. 1 dredge - abandoned in 1937 and not being refurbished or anything - much of it's machinery has been salvaged. BLM removed it in September 2007 as a hazard.

Jack Wade Dredge #1 on Taylor Highway, Alaska - August 1998
Jack Wade Dredge #1 on Taylor Highway, Alaska - August 1998
Jack Wade Dredge #1 on Taylor Highway, Alaska - August 1998
Jack Wade Dredge #1 on Taylor Highway, Alaska - August 1998

Click for more Jack Wade Dredge #1

Found this interesting flower along the Taylor Highway.

Interesting flower along the Taylor Highway
Interesting flower along the Taylor Highway
Interesting flower along the Taylor Highway
Interesting flower along the Taylor Highway

Eagle town map

Continued on to Eagle - mildly interesting scenery - high views over rolling hills and a varying forest. Eagle was an important point on the Yukon River in early times. Fort Egbert was a major U. S. Army post and one end of an early telegraph line.

The Athabascans established the original settlement, today called Eagle Village, long before Francois Mercier arrived in the early 1880s and built a trading post in the area. A permanent community of miners took up residence in 1898.

A year later, the U.S. Army decided to move in and build a fort as part of its effort to maintain law and order in the Alaska Interior, which was developing rapidly due to the numerous gold rushes in the area.

Judge James Wickersham established a federal court at Eagle in 1900, and the next year President Theodore Roosevelt issued a charter that made Eagle the first incorporated city of Interior Alaska. Eagle reached its peak at the turn of the 20th century, when it boasted a population of more than 1,500 residents, some of whom went so far as to call their town the ”Paris of the North.”

Download Eagle - Fort Egbert: A Remnant of the Past (PDF), a 20-page booklet in BLM's "Adventures in the Past" series. This publication is full of historic photos and maps of Fort Egbert and Eagle.

Interesting story about the fort. At one point they brought in live chickens so they could have fresh eggs and meat. Because of the long summer daylight, the Roosters kept crowing all day and the chickens kept laying eggs all day because it never got night. They wore themselves out and died. This was solved by putting shutters over the chicken coops that were closed at the appropriate times to simulate night. In the winter, they kept lights burning to simulate day.

Lots of interesting history. Took the BLM tour of the fort and visited the Judge Wikersham Courthouse and Museum.

A few other historical buildings around town. Interesting history but I'm not sure it was worth the 130 mile round trip side trip.

Yukon River at Eagle, Alaska
Yukon River at Eagle, Alaska
Water Wagon Shed (left), Quartermaster Building (right), Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Water Wagon Shed (left), Quartermaster Building (right), Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska

Mule Barn, Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Mule Barn, Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Granery, Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Granery, Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska

Non-Commissioned Officers Quarters, Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Non-Commissioned Officers Quarters, Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Red Men Hall, Eagle, Alaska
Red Men Hall, Eagle, Alaska

St. Paul's Church, Eagle, Alaska
St. Paul's Church, Eagle, Alaska
Custom House, was NCO Quarters moved from Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska
Custom House, was NCO Quarters moved from Fort Egbert, Eagle, Alaska

Judge Wikersham Courthouse and Museum, Eagle, Alaska
Judge Wikersham Courthouse and Museum, Eagle, Alaska
Courtroom (with tour group), Judge Wikersham Courthouse and Museum, Eagle, Alaska
Courtroom (with tour group), Judge Wikersham Courthouse and Museum, Eagle, Alaska

Backtracked to Jack Wade Junction and turned east on the Top of the World Highway - crossed into Canada a little before 4 p.m. Alaska Time (5 p.m. Pacific). The road runs high on and near the tops of ridges until just before it reaches Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Nice high views over rolling hills and distant mountains. Variable forest and vegetation, lots of flowers in places - nice but nothing special.

Crossed the Yukon River on the free ferry.

Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry

Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry

Stopped in Dawson City to get oriented, then headed out of town to the Klondike River Yukon campground. There is also a campground on the other side of the river but I missed the turnoff and decided to go ahead and cross on the ferry since I got on right away - at times there can be a long wait (long line) since the ferry only handles about 8 or 10 cars at a time, less with motor homes, fifth wheel trailers, etc.