Our driving days are usually pretty interesting. We have guidebooks and experienced caravan leaders to provide us sightseeing ideas to break up the drive. On one stop between Watson Lake and Whitehorse we visited Rancheria Falls — very nice boardwalk leading from the ample parking area to viewing platforms for both sets of falls. Someone went to a great amount of effort to get us to walk there. Although the falls aren’t overly dramatic, nor so tall, they are pretty and we enjoyed the walk as a break from driving.
Our group chartered this boat for a three-hour tour of Schwatka Lake and the Yukon River above Whitehorse. The lake was named for a US Army Lt who reportedly surveyed the entire length of the Yukon River by raft in 1883. The boat is nice, has seats on the upper deck and in the enclosed lower deck, and room to walk around.
The lake, dammed in 1958, was calm and mostly very wide. There are very few houses visible at lakeside but it seemed a beautiful spot to have. They showed us the ruins site of the US Army’s 1940s tremendous laundry, built at water’s edge to manage laundering for thousands of troops. Only some low foundations remain — an innocuous reminder of a dominating industry along these shores.
You might remember two years ago we posted a picture of Deb and Jim by one of the Gllette coal mines tremendous dump trucks. We didn’t nearly come up to the wheel hubs on those. This is a behemoth of an entirely different nature. The wheels are just over ten feet tall, and this very strange critter didn’t make sense to us at all until we went inside and found schematics describing it a little.
Once we read the name for it, we understood — this is an LCC-1 Land Train, and the lead machine is a Power Car. This was made by LG Tourneau from Longview TX, and is housed at the Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse YT. Some of the wheels are missing from several cars and a couple of new-looking tires are stacked alongside a nearby hangar. Some of this museum appears under development, including this exhibit, so we were left wondering about the role and reign of this giant “land train”.
The Beringia Interpretive Center is adjacent to the Transportation Museum but couldn’t be more different in presentation. This neat natural history museum introduced us to the vast non-glaciated region stretching from Nunavit across parts of Yukon Territory and Alaska into Siberia. The centerpiece of the museum is a reconstruction of the 24,000 year-old Bluefish Caves archaeological site, the oldest evidence of human habitation in North America. The most interesting and favorite part for us is the interactive map and a movie describing the geographical extent and significance of Beringia to paleontology and archaeological studies.
We spent all afternoon zooming around Whitehorse in quest of all the historic and cultural sites. We saw the Yukon Visitor Information Center, Yukon Arts Centre and Yukon Archives, MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum, SS Klondike, Tim Horton’s, and this Old Log Church Museum. This museum is in the more than 100 year-old church, one of the oldest buildings in Whitehorse. The former diocesan cathedral houses very nicely arranged exhibits about some of the incumbents who served here and the missions they developed across Yukon Territory. A new cathedral opened on the same grounds in 1960 and in 1978 the Old Log Church was declared a Territorial Historic Site.
Whitehorse YT deserves more than the day of touring we gave it. We didn’t have enough time to catch Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, or to do justice to MacBride Museum and Copperbelt Museum. We spent just one cup’s and donut’s time in Tim Horton’s downtown and completely missed the larger location on the west end of town. We rushed a little through the Transportation Museum, and could have enjoyed at least another hour there. Two days wouldn’t be too much to give to this neat Provincial capital. Caravans seem, to us, pretty long at up to 63 days duration. Yet there sometimes isn’t time to spend on all the very cool things we might like at our stops.
We thoroughly enjoyed Whitehorse. There is much more to see and some we will enjoy seeing at a more leisurely pace on our own another time. For now, the caravan pushes us forward toward Alaska. We’re not complaining — this is a great way to learn our way around places we’ve never thought of seeing. We do what we can at each stop and we’ll leave something for next time in Whitehorse YT.
Jim and Debbie
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