|Aug. 6 – 18: WATSON LAKE: Next stop was at Kenny Lake near the entrance of the Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve. We took a shuttle into McCarthy & Kennecott (which are advertised as ghost towns in the park.) We were told that 40 miles of the 80 mile highway into the towns were gravel, very narrow and extremely rough. It was as advertised and we were very glad to have had a driver, as it also took 3 hrs to drive in and another 3 to get back out. Kennecott mines operated from 1911 until 1938 and had the richest copper ever found. The mines included 70 miles of subterranean tunnels and were connected to the mill by aerial trams. The mill was near Mt. Blackburn (16,390 ft.) and all the mines were on the sides of VERY HIGH mountains and the mill operated 363 days of the year, 24 hours a day. It was the workplace and McCarthy was the ‘playground’. They have restored a lot of both towns and have services to serve the influx of summer visitors and McCarthy has a small year round population. It is amazing that people worked and lived in this wilderness up in the mountains and weather and that some people still do!!
From Kenny Lake we drove to Tok and completed our circle trip around Alaska. It was wonderful. From Tok we took the Alaska Highway back to Whitehorse. Not quite as exciting as some of our other routes. While in Whitehorse we took in the RCMP Musical Ride and also saw a show called the Klondike Follies which was excellent. Ron and Mary left us here and headed back to the lower 48. We wandered on down to Skagway and were amazed that the scenery was yet again different. Skagway is a small town with lots of shops. These are kept very busy by the hoards of people that mill around off the 2-4 cruise ships that are in port every day. Great for the shop owners – but too many people for us. We shopped around a bit, took in a show, and enjoyed the scenery on the way down and back.
We are presently in Watson Lake, Yukon and plan to head south down the Cassiar Highway (37) tomorrow. Not quite sure of our route after that. Will try and keep you posted. J, D & B