Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome to the YMCA - Old Door in Skagway, Alaska

Skagway may not seem to be related to Interior Alaska, but there is a link. This city was one of the main ports of entry to the Klondike, and when the Klondike gold rush died down, many of the gold-seekers and their followers moved on to Interior Alaska. Some of Fairbanks's prominent early citizens actually got their start in Skagway.
 When I visited Skagway in 1998, there were only a few commercial buildings in the core area that had not been acquired by the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, or renovated by businesses or local residents. This pen and ink drawing is of the front door to one of those buildings. A friend told me the building was owned by an elderly local gentleman who had operated an automotive garage there. I peeked through the boarded up windows and could see old fan belts and other auto parts hanging on the wall.
I returned to Skagway in the summer of 2009 and the old building was still vacant and boarded up. However, I later learned that the building had been donated to the National Park Service earlier that year by the Rasmuson Foundation (an Alaskan foundation dedicated to promoting a better life for Alaskans).
The building was constructed in 1900 as the first YMCA gymnasium in Alaska. It was later converted to a meat market, and later an automotive garage. It is now being restored and will eventually serve as the Klondike Gold Rush Historic Research Center.

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