St. James Hotel

The St. James Hotel, presently a hardware store warehouse, is famous as the birthplace of the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad. During the winter of 1897-98, it took tremendous effort for the stampeders to haul the required ton of goods" from Skagway to the Canadian lakes. To ease the strain, several tramways and railroads crossing White Pass were proposed, but the plans were long on speculation and short on money. Into this atmosphere came Sir Thomas Tancred, who sailed from London to Skagway in the spring of 1898. Representing a well-heeled investment firm, he wanted to see if a railroad could be built over White Pass. After traveling up the rugged White Pass Canyon, he was skeptical at first. That evening, however, he stumbled across Mike Heney, here in the hotel's saloon. Heney was a railroad contractor who had also looked over the canyon north of town, but he was convinced that a route over the pass was entirely feasible. Legend has it that the two met in the early evening, talked all night long, and wound up their discussion just as dawn broke. Tancrede's money and Heney's construction knowledge proved an unbeatable combination. Construction of the line began in late May 1898. Two years, two months and two days later, the line was completed to Whitehorse, the present capital of Canada's Yukon Territory. Look up on the mountain before you! Depending on your point of view, the inscriptions on the cliff face are either historical resources, or they are graffiti. The pocket watch, which advertised Kirmse's jewelry store, dates from the 20th century. The other advertisements are more recent."

Getting There

Broadway & 4th
Skagway, AK 99840
Driving Directions