The White Pass & Yukon line: from Skagway to White Pass
The White Pass & Yukon line from Skagway to Lake Bennett
Today, most of the excursion trains run only on the first 20 miles of the White Pass & Yukon line, from Skagway to the Canadian border at the White Pass summit. One train a day reaches Lake Bennett in British Columbia (40 miles from Skagway), once a week this train is steam-powered (as of 2001). The distance from Skagway is shown on the side of the track by markers every mile (mile posts, MP).
From Skagway to White Pass, the grade is 3.7-3.9% most of the way and the line climbs in the steep glacier valleys above Skagway, with numerous curves and bridges to cross the creeks running from the surrounding glaciers. There is also two tunnels, the first one on an impressive section at MP 15, where the line was carved into a sheer cliff. The second one near the summit was built in 1969, to bypass a 840ft long steel cantilever bridge that became too light to sustain the increasing weight of the trains. Southeast Alaska climate is rather unstable and fast changing with sometimes alas low clouds. So the climb to White Pass summit may at times end up in mist and fog, but fortunately the weather often clears up in the afternoon for the trip back to Skagway.
Consolidation #40 at the Skagway depot with the train for Lake Bennett (MP 0).
The engine crew takes advantage of bridge 5A to open the cylinder cocks! (on the way back to Skagway, MP 5).
In the middle of a 3.8% grade, the small consolidation battles to haul the four-car train (near MP 10).
Bridge 14A on the way back to Skagway (MP 14).
Approaching bridge 15C and tunnel 15, as the mist is settling down.
At the same location on the way back, just out of tunnel 15 and crossing bridge 15C (around MP 15).
On the way back, the weather is clear and allows to enjoy the wonderful scenery, Skagway can be seen in the distance on the right (MP 16).
The now abandoned steel cantilever bridge, seen from the new section of track that bypass it (going back to Skagway, MP 18).
In the mist at the summit, the new bridge 18A built in 1969 to replace the steel cantilever bridge.
In a very thick fog! Just below White Pass summit (MP 18.5).