Pacific Clipper Line Office and Hern Liquor Store

Two colorful buildings with people passing by.
Today the Pacific Clipper Line Office (left) and Hern Liquor Store (right) buildings hold shops as part of the Historic Leasing program.

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Line drawing of two conjoined two story buildings.
The Pacific Clipper Line Office building (left) is attached to the smaller Hern Liquor Store Building (right).

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Steamboat Row
Skagway has been an important transportation center throughout its history. Its very existence is the result of its geographic location as the gateway to the Yukon and Alaska.

During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98, thousands of gold seekers rushed up through the inside passage to Skagway by ship. After arriving in town, most made their way along either the White Pass Trail or the Chilkoot Trail, the start of which was in the nearby town of Dyea. Later, the completion of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway in 1900 enabled travelers to journey into the interior of the Yukon by simply boarding a train in Skagway.

In order to accommodate the many travel and freighting needs of customers, several shipping companies established offices along lower Broadway near the railroad station. This area became known as "steamboat row." The Pacific Clipper Line Office was one of these office buildings.

Tidewater to Headwaters
The Seattle-based Pacific Clipper Line built this two-story office building in 1898. Following the stereotypical boom town model, the upstairs served as a residence while the downstairs served as offices. Within this one building, a customer could purchase lumber or coal, buy a steamship ticket to Seattle, book freight to Dyea and have it transported over the Chilkoot tramways, hire packers over the White Pass Trail, and buy tickets for paddle wheelers along the Yukon River. The Pacific Clipper Line later secured the contract for hauling supplies for the White Pass &Yukon Route Railway.

The Pacific Clipper Line prospered and they later changed their name to the Admiral Line, which dominated Pacific coastal passenger shipping from 1916 to 1935. Yet business in Skagway slowed after the gold rush, and by 1900 the ticket agent began selling books in the ticket office for additional income. Because of the decline in business, the building was sold to saloon keeper Albert Reinert in 1904. Reinert remodeled the former Pacific Clipper office and it became part of his Mascot Saloon, located next door.

Later History
Hern, in turn, rented the former Pacific Clipper office to the Canadian National Railways. Hern tore down the one-story Pacific Coast Steamship Company offices(which were located next door) in 1919, and in 1936 built an addition to the former Pacific Clipper which became the Hern Liquor Store.

Left: oval coin reading "Perry Hern Skagway"
Right: reverse of oval coin reading "Good for 12 1/2 cents in trade"
Free tokens were often given away at local businesses to encourage repeat customers.  This token from Hern's Liquor Store probably dates from the 1930s.

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Black and white photo of three unkempt old buildings.
The Mascot Saloon, Pacific Clipper Line Office, and Hern Liquor Store prior to their NPS restoration.

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The National Park Service obtained this structure, along with the other buildings in the Mascot complex of buildings, in 1976. The National Park Service restored the Mascot block buildings from 1986-1990.

Transportation Today
Skagway has served as an important transportation hub for decades. The Pacific Clipper Line Office was an important link in Skagway's early travel network. It was one of several businesses which enabled people and supplies to achieve destinations never before reached. This, in turn, opened the Yukon and Alaska to more settlement and an increase in population. Skagway continues to thrive today as a link between Alaska and the Yukon Territory, though now the Klondike Highway makes travel easier.

Historic Building Leasing Program
The Pacific Clipper Line Office and Hern Liquor Store are two of over a dozen historic buildings owned by Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. These buildings are leased to private businesses under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Annual lease payments help offset the costs of maintaining these and other historic buildings in the park. The compatible commercial use of this structure continues Skagway's long tradition as a bustling center of business activity.

Other building histories like this one are available at various National Park Service-owned buildings around Skagway or at the National Park Service Visitor Center at 2nd and Broadway.

Learn More!

Last updated: December 9, 2019

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Mailing Address:

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

Skagway, AK 99840


907 983-9200

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