Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska

This town has a real frontier feel to it. In 1898 the lure of gold brought prospectors in their thousands to the Klondike. Travelling by train and boat, the adventurers reached the northern tip of the Lynn Canal and here was born Skagway. Reputed to have a population of 10,000 in 1899, we rely on local journalists of the time for our information, but allegedly there were 70 saloon bars.

Today you can visit the town and walk along the boardwalk, and see the original storefronts. All the buildings are timber built, and largely as they were in the late 19th century. One or two are staged with waxwork models so you can experience them as they were, but most are open working stores selling, nowadays, a variety of souvenirs.

If you have arrived here on a cruise ship, it is likely that you will arrive early in the morning and leave late in the evening, so you should manage a full day here.

The Red Onion Saloon is now a National Historic Building but was once Skagway's most famous bordello. The man who founded Skagway was William Moore, and he built the saloon and it opened in 1898. The ground floor was a bar, and the first floor the brothel. There were ten room, for the ten girls who typically earned $5.00 paid in gold. The Red Onion thrived in its first two years, but by late 1899 the girls moves further north, to Dawson, and trade fell away.

Today the saloon is a licenced bar and is still decorated in the original way. The women bar staff dress in traditional 1890s clothing, and upstairs the rooms have been preserved and dressed with waxwork models. Pay the small fee for a short tour of the upstairs. In our photograph you can just see two models looking out of the upstairs window. At the very least have a glass or two of Alaskan Amber!

Red Onion saloon Interior

There are very many tours and trips you can take whilst in Skagway. It's worth planning these out in advance so you can fit them in to your day. Along with the railway trip, horseback riding, bicycle tours and jeep adventures we can particluarly recommend the dog sled trip. You'll take a short drive out through the town to the camp for your ride.

Skagway is one of the warmer places in Alaska, and these dog sled rides are now on wheels along dry tracks rather than snow and ice. You'll start by meeting the dogs and visiting their camp then join your fellow travellers for a most interesting talk that will give you some idea of the life of a racer. See some of the equipment they used to travel deep into the northern Yukon.

Your sled ride will last for about 10 minutes and you will share this ride with eight or so others. After the ride visit with some of the pups.

If you don't want to take a trip then spend some time in the town. The old church is now a museum with some fascinating exhibits of clothing, books and equipment. Below, see videos of the Red Onion tour and the dog sled talk.

Skagway sled dogs Skagway Dog Sled Talk The Sled Dogs at Skagway Skagway Hotel

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