Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Juneau What I Mean

 We pulled into Juneau, Alaska just after sunrise this morning. Juneau is Alaska's capital city and has about 30,000 people living here. It is located on the mainland - unlike so many other cities - and is large enough to have an actual highway running through it. Ketchikan, on the other hand, is on an island and has one road that goes 38 miles in either direction and then dead ends.

Today's expedition was a ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway to a nice plateau with a Nature Center and some hiking trails up and down a good part of Mount Roberts. They also showed a lovely 18-minute documentary about the Tlingit people, who populated this part of Alaska (long before the white man) after migrating north from British Columbia.

The photo up there is a selfie of me on the trail with Mount Juneau in the background.

Joe Juneau and Richard Harris were the two explorers who were first led to the gold in the area by a friendly Tlingit chief. For a brief time, the city was known as Harrisburg, and then Rockwell, and then in 1881 the miners met and voted to name the town after Juneau.

The AJ Mines (Alaska, Juneau) were built into the side of Mount Roberts and we were told today that before they closed in 1944 they pulled $88 million worth of gold out of the hills, or about $5 billion in today's economy. For every ounce of gold discovered, 200 pounds of rock and earth were moved. The mine doors have since been sealed over but there are still 300 miles of tunnels inside the mountain.

The tram we took (see picture) was opened in 1996 and ascends from sea level to 1,800 feet

in six minutes. It is the steepest tram run in all of North America. At the top is a snack shop, an extensively stocked gift shop, a small movie theater, a restaurant, and a Nature Center with additional gifts and maps of the trails. Pop walked about a quarter of a mile but found the ascent too steep for his 81-year old using-a-cane-gait. So he rested and shopped while I did the half mile ascent and loop on my own.

After lunch and his second acupuncture session, we stood on our balcony while the ship entered the Tracy Arm of the Inside Passage and slowly progressed to the Sawyer Glacier at the end of the Arm. Let me tell you, the Inside Passage is so jaw-droppingly beautiful it's nearly worth taking the cruise just for that.

I have been putting up photos on my Facebook page. Click the link in red here or the "badge" over to the right. The photos just don't do justice to the majesty and awesome beauty of this land.

Everyone should come to Alaska. Just looking at the views are good for the soul.


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. I tell people "God was having a good day when He made Alaska.".

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