White Pass and Yukon Route Railway Administration Building

Historic yellow building with green trim decorated with patriotic bunting.
Today the historic Railroad Administration building holds a museum and the park headquarters.

NPS photo

 
Line drawing of historic building

NPS image

The White Pass & Yukon Route Administration Building (NPS Visitor Center and Park Headquarters) is also still in its original location near the southeast corner of Broadway and Second Avenue (Block 36, Lot 5) and adjacent to the original White Pass & Yukon Route Broadway Depot.

Building Construction
Also, like the depot, it is not known exactly when construction on the "Railroad Building" began but the first step, in December 1899, was the removal of several structures from the building site. These structures included the Rosalie Hotel and the agency of the steamer Dirigo. The first part of the structure to be erected was the two-story fireproof vault, which was built of brick and steel over a concrete foundation with the vault doors manufactured by The Macneale & Urban Company of Hamilton,Ohio. The first published reference to the building's construction occurred in the Daily Alaskan of April 3, 1900, which noted the vault's construction. On April 15, 1900, the newspaper reported that "The two story fire-proof vault is nearly completed, and the lathers and plasterers are in possession [of the building]." On April 25, 1900, the same paper reported that the "…carpenters have begun to put the ornamental work on [the outside of] the new railroad building…the painters and plasterers are also at work…"That ornamentation included three wreaths of pressed zinc on the first floor and eight 36-inch long garlands and two 48 inch long garlands on the second floor, all found in the 1887 catalog of Blakewell & Mullins of Salem, Ohio. In addition, there are the words, "RAILROAD BUILDING" and the year "1900" spelled out in eight-inch high letters of galvanized iron on the face of the structure. The Daily Alaskan of May 3, 1900, noted that "The headquarters building is by far the finest wooden structure in the city.It is two stories high, plastered, provided with fireproof vaults, large plate glass windows, and is finely finished."

As the building neared completion, there was apparently considerable pulling and tugging between different railroad departments regarding who would get what space. It is uncertain whether the original plans, dated 1900, for the interior arraignment of offices in the building, were ever completely followed through but the Daily Alaskan noted that changes were afoot. The newspaper reported on May 3, 1900, "The distribution of offices has not been definitely decided upon as yet, but it is likely the auditor's office will be on the ground floor, and the traffic office upstairs. "Five days later, on May 8, 1900, the paper reported just the reverse. "The auditor and staff will occupy the front rooms on the second floor. The traffic department, which deals more with the public than any other of the road will be quartered on the first floor." Also on the ground floor were offices of the Alaska-Pacific Express Company and the Alaska Transfer Company. This was later the Railway Express Agency office. A week later, on May 16, 1900, the offices of the General Manager, Assistant Chief Engineer, and Chief Clerk, were moved from the upstairs of the depot to the new Railroad Building signifying the completion of the building.

The National Park Service and Historic Preservation
The later history of the "Railroad Building" is practically identical to the history of the Depot. Like the depot, this building was vacated by the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad in 1969 after they moved into their new depot and general offices. Then the building was acquired by the National Park Foundation from the railroad in 1971 and transferred to the NPS in 1976. It was restored in 1979-1984 to its 1908-1915 period at a cost $1,600,000 which included the Depot next door. Today the first floor is the main museum for Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the upper floor holds the Park's headquarters.
 

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Last updated: January 5, 2017

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Mailing Address:

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
P.O. Box 517

Skagway, AK 99840

Phone:

(907) 983-9200

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