UIAA Explorers Travel Program

EXPLORERS Alumni Travel Program

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See the World With Fellow Alumni and Friends Travel to one of many fascinating destinations with fellow Alumni Association members through EXPLORERS, the alumni tour program. See our Photo Gallery of previous tours in the links to the right.
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Celebrating man's engineering feat in the Yukon

A 110-plus-year-old bridge that's part of the historic White Pass & Yukon Route railway.

This day's excursion as part of the Cruising the Inside Passage EXPLORERS tour finds us riding the historic White Pass & Yukon Railroad up into the mountains from Skagway, Alaska. This narrow-gauge rail trip climbs amazingly high. It was built when to help hasten the Trail of '98 (as in 1898) gold rush when thousands of "stampeders" went looking for gold.

Journalism being what it was then, and the country in the midst of an economic downturn ... hmm ... gold was discovered in Dawson City up in the Yukon Territory. But like a bad game of Telephone, reports made it seem that gold was just sitting there waiting for people to arrive in Skagway, pick it up and put it in their satchel bags and head home. Turns out, when they got to Skagway, they had about 600 more miles to go -- through treacherous, moutainous terrain. Hard life. And very few ended up with any gold in the end.

During the building of this railroad, however -- which took two years, two months and two days -- there were surprisingly few deaths. One of the major feats was the construction of a bridge that was considered quite an accomplished engineering achievement along the same level as the Eiffel Tower. This bridge is what helped secure this railroad's place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Having a graduate from our top-notch civil engineering program at the University of Illinois on our trip is very handy!

Next, we've just arrived in Sitka, and I think there may be a celebration story to tell about the majestic Bald Eagles. ...

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