- This article refers to the pass between Alaska and British Columbia. For White Pass in the U.S. state of Washington, see White Pass (Washington)White Pass (Washington)White Pass is a mountain pass in the Cascade Range south of Mount Rainier and north of Goat Rocks in Washington, USA. U.S. Highway 12 passes over White Pass, connecting Yakima County with Lewis County....
White Pass (el. 873 m or 2,864.2 ft) is a mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...
through the Boundary Ranges
The Boundary Ranges, also known in the singular and as the Alaska Boundary Range, are the largest and most northerly subrange of the Coast Mountains...
of the Coast Mountains
The Coast Mountains are a major mountain range, in the Pacific Coast Ranges, of western North America, extending from southwestern Yukon through the Alaska Panhandle and virtually all of the Coast of British Columbia. They are so-named because of their proximity to the sea coast, and are often...
on the border of the U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...
and the province of British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
. It leads from Skagway, Alaska
Skagway is a first-class borough in Alaska, on the Alaska Panhandle. It was formerly a city first incorporated in 1900 that was re-incorporated as a borough on June 25, 2007. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 862...
to the chain of lakes at the headwaters of the Yukon River
The Yukon River is a major watercourse of northwestern North America. The source of the river is located in British Columbia, Canada. The next portion lies in, and gives its name to Yukon Territory. The lower half of the river lies in the U.S. state of Alaska. The river is long and empties into...
, Crater Lake, Lake Lindeman and Bennett Lake.
HistoryThe White Pass was closely controlled by the Chilkoot Indians and was unknown to non-natives until 1887. William Ogilvie had heard reports of a low pass from the head of Chilkoot Inlet to the headwaters of the Lewes River (Yukon River), while in Juneau. In June 1887 Ogilvie was at the head of Taiya Inlet doing a survey from Pyramid Island up through the Chilkoot Pass. William Moore
William Moore (steamship captain)
William Moore was a steamship captain, businessman, miner and explorer in British Columbia and Alaska. During most of British Columbia's gold rushes Moore could be found at the center of activity, either providing transportation to the miners, working claims or delivering mail and...
, who was accompanying him, had experience building roads in mountainous areas and wanted to try this route since the Chilkoot Pass was reported to be too steep for a wagon road. Ogilvie made inquiries and learned there was such a pass; but could not induce any Chilkoots to guide Moore. Skookum Jim Mason had been through this low altitude pass before, and with much talk and encouragement he was induced to reveal it. Ogilvie sent Moore and Skookum Jim Mason over this low altitude pass while he continued with his surveying work on the Chilkoot Pass. Moore did a rough survey of the new pass and returned with the satisfaction that he had found the route for his wagon road. The White Pass was named for the Canadian Minister of the Interior Thomas White
Thomas White (Canadian politician)
Thomas White, was a Canadian journalist and politician.He was born in Montreal, Lower Canada in 1830, the son of Thomas White, a leather merchant who came to Canada from Ireland in 1826. White worked at a number of jobs before entering the printing trade with the Queen's Printer in Toronto around...
by William Ogilvie.
William Moore and his son returned to stake a homesteader's claim in Skagua; as it was then known. They built a cabin and a wharf and surveyed a town site they called Mooresville. In 1894 the North-West Mounted Police arrive at Dyea and Mooresville on their way to the Canada's Yukon territory. The first group of prospectors hiked up Moore's crude trail over the White Pass. Once the gold rush began the Moores were over-run. Mooresville was resurveyed by Frank Reid as Skaguay. The crude trail was made into a toll road by George Brackett and the North-West Mounted Police guarded the passes and briefly maintained a post in Skaguay, which Canada claimed.
Gold Rush YearsThe White Pass Trail, was one of the two main passes used by prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush
Klondike Gold Rush
The Klondike Gold Rush, also called the Yukon Gold Rush, the Alaska Gold Rush and the Last Great Gold Rush, was an attempt by an estimated 100,000 people to travel to the Klondike region the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1897 and 1899 in the hope of successfully prospecting for gold...
. The White Pass was an easier route to Lake Bennett than the Chilkoot Trail
The Chilkoot Trail is a 33 miles trail through the Coast Mountains that leads from Dyea, Alaska in the United States, to Bennett, British Columbia in Canada....
a few kilometers to the west, but it harbored a criminal element that preyed on the cheechakos (newcomers to the Klondike). These con artists were believed to be members of the infamous Soapy Smith
Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith II was an American con artist and gangster who had a major hand in the organized criminal operations of Denver, Colorado; Creede, Colorado; and Skagway, Alaska, from 1879 to 1898. He was killed in the famed Shootout on Juneau Wharf...
gang from Skagway, Alaska. In 1898 Smith was killed at the famed Shootout on Juneau Wharf
Shootout on Juneau Wharf
The Shootout on Juneau Wharf was a gunfight that occurred at about 9:15 PM on Friday, July 8, 1898, in Skagway, District of Alaska, in the United States.-Background:...
and his gang were run out of Skagway and the White Pass. So many horses died during the Gold rush that the trail became known as the "Dead Horse Trail". The trail ended at Lake Bennett, where the prospectors built or purchased rafts or boats to float down the Yukon River to the Klondike
The Klondike is a region of the Yukon in northwest Canada, east of the Alaska border. It lies around the Klondike River, a small river that enters the Yukon from the east at Dawson....
Gold mining is the removal of gold from the ground. There are several techniques and processes by which gold may be extracted from the earth.-History:...
s near Dawson City
Dawson City, Yukon
The Town of the City of Dawson or Dawson City is a town in the Yukon, Canada.The population was 1,327 at the 2006 census. The area draws some 60,000 visitors each year...
The White Pass and Yukon Route
White Pass and Yukon Route
The White Pass and Yukon Route is a Canadian and U.S. Class II narrow gauge railroad linking the port of Skagway, Alaska, with Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon. An isolated system, it has no direct connection to any other railroad. Equipment, freight and passengers are ferried by ship through the...
narrow gauge railroad was built 1898-1900 through White Pass. The southern end of the Klondike Highway
The Klondike Highway links the Alaskan coastal town of Skagway to Yukon's Dawson City and its route somewhat parallels that used by prospectors in the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush....
also uses the White Pass and parallels the railway.
The Skagway Historic District and White Pass
Skagway Historic District and White Pass
The Skagway Historic District and White Pass is a National Historic Landmark district comprising a portion of Skagway, Alaska and the US portion of White Pass, a rail mountain pass 19 miles away on the border of Canada...
is a U.S. National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...
- University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections – Eric A. Hegg Photographs 736 photographs from 1897-1901 documenting the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes, including depictions of frontier life in Skagway and Nome, Alaska and Dawson, Yukon Territory. Includes images of White Pass and White Pass Trail.
- Soapy Smith Preservation Trust