Skagway is the northern most town along Alaska’s Inside Passage, about 100 miles to the north of Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Placed strategically close to the US, Canada border, Skagway came into existence because of the Gold Rush and became notorious as a lawless town ruled by vigilantes and criminals out to rob the miners on their way to dig for gold. Today it is described as the nation’s best-preserved Gold Rush town.
In 1896 gold was found in the Klondike region of Canada. The next year thousands of starry-eyed miners, gold diggers, opportunists and stragglers started pouring into the new town to take a break and get ready for the 500-mile journey north to the prospective gold fields of Canada. The journey was hard and treacherous and many decided to stay back and open shops, stores, saloons and offices to provide goods and services to the miners. By the middle of 1898, with a population between 8000 and 10,000, Skagway became the largest city in Alaska though it was known to be a living hell because of the rampant lawlessness and criminal activity. After 1900 when the gold ran out, the population of Skagway dwindled too. Today merely 800 people call Skagway home.