SOLTESWEB.NET ALASKA TRIP 2005 - AUGUST Page 4
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Friday, August 12 - Moose, Knotty Shop, Rika's Roadhouse
It was still smoky in the morning. That's what we saw where we had camped for the night alongside the Tanana river. Not too far down the road, we were treated again with a cow moose and her two calves. This time, we were fast enough to get pictures.
We passed a place called the Knotty Shop that sold furniture and sculptures made of deformed and knotty wood.
This is Rika's Roadhouse located on the Tanana river where the highway crosses it. There were many roadhouses at one time to accommodate travelers on the way from Valdez to Fairbanks. This is one of the few remaining. It was run by a Swedish lady named Rika for many decades until she was 90!
It faces the river instead of the road, because it was the place you had to use a ferry to cross the river. There's an interesting story about this ferry on a plaque near the river. Here's what it says.
THE TRUCKERS REBELLION. "The Federally-built Alaska Railroad, which extends from the port of Seward to Fairbanks, was completed in 1923. It was later evident that the railroad was losing money - in the summer it was cheaper to ship goods by truck over the Richardson Hwy from the port of Valdez. (To make sense of this story, you have to know that the railroad from Seward to Fairbanks is at least 150 miles apart from the Richardson Hwy from Valdez to Fairbanks all the way). In 1935, the Interior Department established fees for truckers on the highway in an effort to promote more traffic on the railroad. When the truckers refused to pay, the Department, through the Alaska Railroad Commission, instituted tolls here for the ferry. At first, the toll succeeded in cutting the amount of freight carried over the highway.
"Truckers soon protested and refused to pay the toll. During 1939 and 1940, they loaded their goods on their own home-made scow, and boated them across the river. The truckers also began using the official ferry without the ferryman's permission and without paying the toll. In September of 1940, a US Marshal was dispatched from Fairbanks and 14 men were arrested.
"On October 14, 1940, the truckers seized the US marshal stationed at Big Delta, took his shotgun and locked him up in the scale house. The truckers moved 10 loads across the ferry, then released the marshal and gave him back his gun. A grand jury in Fairbanks refused to charge the truckers with kidnapping. The previously arrested truckers were also acquitted. Shortly after these incidents, the ferry was removed from the water for winter and the controversy cooled.
"In June, 1941, the truckers used their own "private" ferry, thus avoiding the government owned ferry and the toll. The government retaliated and erected a gate at Shaw Creek, 12 miles up the road, where truckers had to show their toll receipt. Some truckers rammed the gate. The truckers and the Alaska Railroad Commission finally agreed that the fees would be put in escrow until the matter was decided. The validity of the tolls was upheld by the District court. But, with the start of World War II, there was enough freight for the railroad to make a profit, so tolls on the Richardson Hwy were removed in 1942. In 1943, a bridge was erected to cross the river, making the ferry obsolete, and the conflict at the ferry was over."
That's a picture of the actual scales used to calculate the toll for the ferry.
This sign is at the end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction. We just came 101 miles from Fairbanks, and are traveling towards Tok, another 100 miles south on the Alaska Highway towards Dawson Creek. Do you remember the sign at Dawson Creek? It was 1422 miles away.
We thought this was an effective sign to warn you about buffalo in the area.
When we arrived in Tok, we were surprised to find that Bill and Carole Nelson were there. They shared the project with us at Solid Rock Bible Camp in Soldotna. We had supper together and shared travel experiences since we last saw each other. They had their grandson up to visit with them for a while, and the fishing was so good, they had to buy a freezer for their motor home to store the 70 pounds of salmon filets!
Saturday, August 13 -Tok to Kluane Lake YT
Drove from Tok to Kluane Lake in the Yukon. Why the Yukon? Because in order to get to Haines, where we are headed, you must take the Alaska Hwy east to the Yukon, then south at Haines Junction through British Columbia before again crossing the Alaska border about 50 miles north of Haines. There was a lot of smoke from forest fires. We later found out that there were about 130 fires in Alaska that day, with more in the Canadian provinces and the Yukon. The Alaska Hwy here is full of frost heaves...driving on it feels like being on a roller coaster.
We forgot to tell you about the fur coats we saw for sale at Rika's. We hadn't seen such a selection for decades. All sorts of pelts, and prices up to over $5000. Ed's favorite was a black leather jacket made to look a little like a biker's jacket, a lot of nickel plated attachments, but of course made with kid glove leather AND lined with sheared mink dyed a dark red. Only $4375.
Sunday, August 14 - Kluane Lake and Haines
This is what the lake looked like in the am...very smoky and foggy. When we got on the way, there was also road constriction which got us very muddy. Coming into Haines, we saw two fires, one at mile 33 and one at mile 10. Helicopters were scooping up water from ponds in efforts to quench the fires.
It wasn't much clearer in Haines, usually a very picturesque coastal town nestled in the Chilkat mountains. We ate at the Ft. Seward Lodge (Ft Seward was the first army base in Alaska, 1904) where Ed had a plate of Dungeness crab, one that they had caught right in the harbor. We walked in town a bit then moved up the Chilkoot river, where we found a spot to pull over and stay the night.
Monday, August 15 - Chilkoot Lake State Park
We made reservations to take the ferry (with the camper) to Skagway on Wednesday afternoon. Then we drove up the road to the Chilkoot Lake State Park where we got this incredibly beautiful campsite. Not only were we just by the lake, but we could see and hear a large waterfall on the other side.
We got a campfire started, and grilled a few salmon filets, then used the coals for marshmallows. Yum!
We got to see a few eagles, bears feeding on salmon (no pictures), and mergansers having a ball in the water feeding on salmon scraps left by fishermen cleaning their catches.
Thought you'd like to see what fireweed looks like when it goes to seed. The plant is always beautiful to us on the roadsides, but probably not so to local gardeners trying to eradicate it from their flower beds and properties.
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