The discovery of gold in the Klondike started one of the most remarkable stampedes of people in history. Getting to the goldfields, though, was very difficult, and hundreds of companies were formed to get people there by ship, wagon, horse, dogsled, railroad and even by balloon! The White Pass & Yukon Route is the only one of those companies which still survives today.
Many people said that a railroad could never be built through the granite of the Coastal Mountains. They were almost right - it was an incredible challenge to engineers and labourers alike.
Construction on the 112-mile line to Whitehorse, Yukon began on May 27, 1898 in Skagway, Alaska. Just over 2 years later, on July 29, 1900, the final spike was driven at Carcross. The many links below will take you on a lengthy tour of the line over the past century.
Historic Articles Reprinted
The First Railway to the Alaska Gold Fields
A report on the White Pass & Yukon Route's operation, from the September 2, 1898 issue of "The Railway Age".
The First Railway to the Alaska Gold Fields
A report on the line's progress, from the November 11, 1898 issue of "The Railway Age".
The White Pass & Yukon Ry., October 1899
A fairly detailed article from "Engineering News" describes the railway's progress up to that point.
"Mother Earth Trembled"
June 7, 1900 - from The Klondike Nugget (Dawson).
An Alaska Coal-Handling Plant
An illustrated article from The Railway Age of March 15, 1901, describes the new Skagway facility.
The Switchback Arch Bridge of the WP&YR
An illustrated look at what is now called the "cantilever bridge", from "Engineering News" of March 28, 1901.
A Railroad in the Far North
This paper, presented to the Pacific Coast Railway Club in December 1902, offers a personal glimpse at the railway.
"Gov't Asks the White Pass For Brackett Road"
August 20, 1913 - from The Daily Alaskan (Skagway).
"Ocean Passenger Steamers for White Pass"
An article from The Daily Alaskan of August 26, 1913 describes the current development plans of the WP&YR.
The Army's Railroad, 1943
Three photos from the period when the railway was being run by the 770th Railway Operating Battalion of the U.S. Army.
Haines Road, 1946
Closure of the Haines cut-off by the Canadian army was seen by some as a way to protect the WP&YR's monopoly and high freight rates.
History of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway
By W. D. "Bill" MacBride, published in The Whitehorse Star of Friday, March 8, 1946.
Highlights From the White Pass Container Route News
Published by the White Pass & Yukon Route, this publication gave details of the company, and the jobs and personal lives of
employees from 1957 to 1973.
The 190-class MacArthur Locomotives
In an article published in Light Iron Digest in Aug/Sept 2004, Mike Peltier exposes the truth about these 2-8-2 steamers (Adobe .pdf format, 700Kb).
The first railway locomotive brought to Alaska, W.P.Y.R. #52, will be returned to its original home in Skagway when 'Project 52' has completed its purpose (1964).
Arctic Gold & Silver Mine Spur
This spur, used in 1969 and 1970, was at Mile 67.3, just south of Carcross, Yukon.
Bennett, BC equipment roster
A list of the WP&YR rolling stock stored at Bennett, B.C. as of October 19, 1997.
Ship Clifford J. Rogers
The story of the first White Pass container ship, launched in 1955 to run between Skagway and Vancouver.
Equipment destroyed during US Army lease
"U. S. Army & W. P. & Y. R. rolling stock and motive power destroyed since Oct. 1, 1942".
Historic Yukon-Alaska Bus Service
An extensively-illustrated look at the bus services offered by the White Pass & Yukon Route.
Paige Track Car #1
A photo and description of the Superintendent's rail vehicle from 1933-1947.
Rotary Snow Plow
Built in 1898 and now restored, this amazing piece of equipment draws people from around the world.
Photos and notes from the 1998 demonstration.
Rotary Snowplow Show
Photos of the April 2000 demonstration, by Murray Lundberg & Tina Cyr.
White Pass & Yukon Motor Cars
Specs, plan, photos and notes on some of the White Pass' heavy-duty Fairmont track speeders.
WP&YR Rotary #3 Wreckage
Used as rip-rap to prevent the track from washing away at Mile 5.
White Pass & Yukon Water Towers
Photos of the current locations of a couple of former water towers.
General WP&YR Resources
White Pass and Yukon Route - Wikipedia
An excellent illustrated summary of WP&YR history, operations to the current day, and equipment list.
Bruce Pryor's WP&YR Page
Bruce has a great collection of WP&YR equipment photos, both historic and recent, for serious railfans.
Craig's WP&YR Photos
WP&YR train guide Craig Williams has posted lots of photos of rolling stock, WP events and related subjects.
The Narrow Gauge Page
Emphasizing the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, this site, set up by
Boerries Burkhardt, a historian living near Stuttgart, Germany, is a must-see for railfans.
The White Pass & Yukon Railroad
Benoit Poulin has posted an excellent look at the railway's operations and equipment, in English and French.
The WP&YR FanList
This email discussion list is open for any aspect of White Pass operations, including history, tourism, engineering and modelling.
Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society
This hard-working group is building a narrow-gauge mining railway in Whitehorse as an
historical interpretation project.
Rails to Riches
Railroads had been crucial to the development of Canada and
the United States; despite the engineering difficulties,
over 100 railroads were organized to tap the vast resources of the
Reliving the Klondike on the Chilkoot Trail
Five unforgettable days following in the footsteps of the gold stampeders. Part 3 of 3 covers the walk along the tracks from Bennett
to Carcross. There is also a large photo album of the trip.