Alaska Or Bust 2017 travel blog

Watson Lake to Teslin, Yukon Territiories



Rancheria Lake Roadhouse has been on the highway since 1949

Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, BC




Teslin Lake Bridge

Teslin Lake

Tlingit Totem poles

Tlingit beaded moose skin jacket

Examples of the ornate masks used by the Inland Tlingit in ceremonies

Tlingit clan banner

George Johnston was a Tlingit photographer and protector of Tlingit culture

Artwork on the George Johnston museum building

Continuing along the highway we crossed over into the Yukon Territories from BC. The Northern Rockies continued to amaze us with their majesty. Watson Lake was the next stop on our itinerary. It's a tiny little town with a huge Signpost Forest. The forest was started by a GI during the building of the Alaska Highway and now holds more than 75,000 signs from visitors all over the world. It's hard to capture the breadth of it with photos, but we tried.

The other feature of interest in Watson Lake is the Northern Lights Center, a planeterium that has a wonderful show explaining the Northern Lights phenomenon. There was video of the beautiful colors emitted during the aurora bursts. Northern Lights or aurora borealis occur only when the nights are longer and temperatures colder, so we likely won't see them on this trip. The planeterium show was the next best thing and definitely was worth viewing.

As we traveled along the Yukon portion of the highway we became more and more aware of the importance of Alaskan and Canadian First Nations in the development of the communities along the way. There are numerous First Nation communities, all with their own beliefs and culture. In Teslin (population about 200) we had the opportunity to visit the Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit) Heritage Center and the George Johnston Museum. The Inland Tlingit left the coastal communities of Sitka and Juneau and came to Teslin Lake to settle. They are very artistic and work in wood, leather, and cloth to create colorful ceremonial masks, clothing, canoes and other products. We were treated to bannak, slightly sweet bread that reminded Pat of the fried dough her mom would make as a treat.

George Johnston was a Tlingit native who loved his culture but also enjoyed some of the trappings of the outside world. He bought the first car in Teslin Lake, even before any roads were built. At age 16 he traveled by foot to Juneau to learn more about Tlingit beliefs and tradition to assure that the Inland Tlingit would maintain close ties to their origins. His photos of the Inland Tlingit life are shown throughout the museum and chronicle day-to-day activities such as fishing, hunting, trapping and celebrations.

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