Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 9

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, milepost 911

Saturday, June 23, 1973

 We crossed two milestones on this day.  First, we crossed something called the Great River Divide.  Given that at this late date I had no idea what this was, I looked it up:  “The Great River Divide is the dividing line between two great watersheds: the Mackenzie River drainage basin that flows into the Beaufort Sea to the north, and the rivers that flow into the Bering Sea to the west via the Yukon River system.”  So sort of the far north version of the Continental Divide. 

 The other milestone was the halfway point between Dawson Creek and Fairbanks, which would be roughly milepost 760. 

 We didn’t travel very far on this day, though, at least by my father’s standards.  Only from milepost 710  to 911.  Just a bit over two hundred miles.  We arrived in Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon Territory, around lunchtime, and were pleasantly surprised at the pavement that went from about 20 miles east of the city through to about 20 miles west.  The afternoon was spent doing things like laundry and taking showers — the trailer had a bathroom in it, but a limited water supply when not at a campground where the sites had hookups (water, sewer, and electrical connections).  I commented in my diary that we definitely needed them.  Given that we’d been on the road over a week by this point and this is the first time I mention laundry in my diary, I suspect we needed that pretty badly by then, too.

 Whitehorse is named after the White Horse, the name the Klondike gold rush stampeders gave the Yukon River rapids in Miles Canyon, just outside the present-day city.  It’s one of only three places (Seattle, Skagway/Dyea, and here) where locations in True Gold cross the route we took in 1973.  Karin, True Gold‘s  heroine, rode the hazardous rapids even though by then the Mounties were forbidding women and children to traverse them (there was a portage trail they were supposed to take).  She found them exhilarating.

 One thing I remember about Whitehorse is that they had a radio station that aired dramas in the evening.  One of them was a mystery program we all enjoyed very much.  I don’t know what kind of television stations they had up there in 1973 (the trailer did not have a television the way trailers and motorhomes do nowadays), but apparently at that time they were still running radio stations the way they did in the pre-TV days. 

True Gold , a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords