Legacy of the Gold Rush:
An Administrative History of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
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Chapter 9:
Chilkoot Trail Management

The park's Chilkoot Trail Unit includes both the trail corridor and the Dyea area. During the gold rush, stampeders travelled through the entire unit on their way between Taiya Inlet and the summit of Chilkoot Pass. Since that time, however, visitors to Dyea have often had divergent goals from those who have entered the Chilkoot Trail corridor. Those who have visited Dyea have wanted to farm, graze horses, log timber, live at a homesite, plant a garden, ride a motorcycle, take a recreational drive, or pursue a variety of other interests. Those who have visited the Chilkoot Trail corridor have been limited to trappers, hunters, and trail hikers. Since the early 1960s, the vast majority of visitors have been hikers, most of whom have wanted to retrace the steps of the gold rush stampeders by traversing the length of the trail from Dyea to Lindeman.

Because of the dichotomy of historical use patterns, Dyea and the Chilkoot Trail have been discussed in separate chapters. It is recognized, however, that some topics are equally applicable to both the Dyea area and the Chilkoot Trail corridor. For example, the various state-federal cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding apply to the entire Chilkoot Trail Unit. In addition, several national register nominations and cultural resource surveys have pertained to both areas. In these and similar cases, introductory and general information has been included in Chapter 8, as has all material pertaining to the Dyea area. In this chapter, material has been added that specifically pertains to the Chilkoot Trail corridor.

Ranger Activities

As has been explained in chapters 3 and 4, the Chilkoot Trail corridor was owned by the General Land Office (later the Bureau of Land Management) during the post-gold rush era. [1] In 1961, the state of Alaska selected most of the land along the trail; that same year the state's Youth and Adult Authority (Y&AA), in conjunction with the state Division of Lands, began to construct a recreational trail between Dyea and the summit of Chilkoot Pass. That effort, which included the erection of shelters near the ghost towns of Canyon City and Sheep Camp, was completed in the summer of 1963 (see Table 4). Y&AA crews returned to maintain the trail for the next five years; then, from 1969 through 1972, they were replaced by personnel from the Alaska Division of Parks, part of the state's Department of Natural Resources. The role of the Y&AA and the Division of Parks was limited to construction and maintenance; neither organization attempted to establish rangers along the Chilkoot.

Table 4. Chilkoot Trail Visitor and Support Facilities

In the United States:
Facility NameConstruction Date

Canyon City Shelter 1962
Sheep Camp Shelter 1963
Sheep Camp Ranger Station (2 bldgs.) 1973, 1975; D 1990*
Sheep Camp Ranger Supply Cache 1975; D 1990
Canyon City Trail Crew Camp 1980**
Sheep Camp Ranger Station (rebuilt) 1989-90
Finnegan's Point Public Use Shelter 1993
Pleasant Camp Public Use Shelter 1993
Sheep Camp Public Use Shelter (2 bldgs.) 1993 (both)
Canyon City Helicopter Platform 1993
Sheep Camp Helicopter Platform 1994
Dyea/Sheep Camp Tent Platforms (1 each)1995

In Canada:
Facility NameConstruction Date

Lindeman City - Upper Cabin 1968
Lindeman City - Lower Cabin 1970
Lindeman City - Warden Camp 1973**
Stone Crib Emergency Shelters (2) 1976, 1978; D 1991
Stone Crib Ranger Cache 1982; D 1989
Summit Patrol Cabin 1989; E 1991
Bare Loon Trail Crew Platform 1990; D 1994
Summit Day Use Shelter 1991
Happy Camp Shelter 1991
Bennett Interpretive Platform 1995

D - dismantled, E - expanded.

* - The two original Sheep Camp ranger buildings were moved in 1989 to a nearby location to make way for a new ranger station that was erected on the same site.

** - The two camps were established in the year indicated. Gradual additions and improvements to the camps were made in several subsequent years.

Sources: Chapters 3, 4, and 9; David Neufeld to author, facsimile, June 19, 1995; Candy Norris, interview by author, June 19, 1995; Jay Cable interview, June 30, 1995.

Map 10. The Chilkoot and White Pass trail corridors. Source: Caroline Carley, Inventory of Cultural Resources in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, 1981, 7. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

During the summer of 1972, the National Park Service became active in managing the Chilkoot Trail. The NPS, by this time, had been active for more than three years planning a potential park unit in the Skagway area, and in 1971, the agency had issued a preliminary master plan formally stating how they would manage the area if it became part of the national park system. The state, which by now had gone on record as supporting the park, was evidently convinced that the park would one day become a reality. Not wishing to expend state dollars on a future federal park unit, the state joined with the Bureau of Land Management (which still owned the trail corridor) and the NPS, and on August 11, 1972, the three parties signed a cooperative agreement on Chilkoot Trail operations. That agreement stated that the NPS "shall undertake to provide management and protection and do what may be necessary to administer, protect, improve, and maintain the lands and associated resources" in the Chilkoot Trail corridor. [2]

As a result of that agreement, Glacier Bay Superintendent Robert Howe assigned two seasonal employees, Scott Sappington and Chuck Nelson, to serve as trail rangers along the Chilkoot. Monument personnel then constructed a prefabricated ranger cabin, which in early 1973 was installed one-quarter mile south of Sheep Camp, at a site between the recreational trail and the Taiya River. The two rangers began working on the trail that May. In addition to Sappington and Nelson, those who served as rangers during the period when the trail was managed out of Glacier Bay included Art Mortvedt, Doug Sanvik, Roy Richey, and Phil Koehl.

In June 1974, the Bureau of Land Management at long last decided on the future ownership of Chilkoot Trail corridor lands. The agency announced that the state had received a Tentative Approval for the land selections it had made in 1961. The federal government, by that action, gave the state effective title to most of the Chilkoot Trail corridor. (It will not receive a patent to the parcel until the corridor is surveyed.) Given that decision, the state Department of Natural Resources has played the predominant role ever since in most management decisions affecting the Chilkoot Trail corridor.

The passage of the park bill, in June 1976, resulted in the transfer of 270 acres of land, just west of Chilkoot Pass, from the BLM to the NPS. (This parcel had not been selected by the state of Alaska.) Otherwise, Congress's action had a relatively small impact on Chilkoot Trail operations, at least initially. Ranger activities along the trail continued to be directed from Glacier Bay for the remainder of that summer. By the following summer a superintendent and historical architect were stationed in Skagway. That summer, trail rangers included Janet Ross, Meg Jensen, and Doug Sanvik. In addition, park officials asked each of the in-town interpreters to spend a week of their summer assisting the regular rangers along the trail. That experiment proved unsuccessful and has not been repeated. [3]

The agency hired three Chilkoot Trail rangers for the 1977 and 1978 seasons. In 1979 there were six rangers, a number that was decreased to five in 1980. Beginning in 1981 the park began hiring four rangers per season; they have continued with that number to the present day. [4]

Regardless of the number of rangers hired, just one person at a time was assigned to the Sheep Camp ranger station. The ranger's primary function was to check on hiker safety and resource protection; he or she typically did so by hiking each day to the top of the pass, answering questions and concerns en route, and communicating those concerns to the Chief Ranger in Skagway and the warden patrolpersons north of the Canadian border. After returning from the hike, the ranger typically walked through the Sheep Camp campground and provided advice, regulations, and encouragement to hikers preparing to ascend the pass. He or she also, on occasion, gave an informal interpretive presentation.

The park radio was the primary means of communication. As noted in Chapter 4, radio communication for both NPS rangers and the Canadian wardens had been inconsistent during the mid-1970s. In 1977, a new single side band radio system was installed. But that system, based at the Glacier Bay National Monument headquarters in Bartlett Cove, worked only intermittently. Various improvements--none very successful--were attempted for the remainder of the decade. Then, in 1980 or 1981, a Park Service technician from Yellowstone, Bill Huffman, installed a repeater and duplexer high on the slope west of Sheep Camp. The new system proved highly successful. The following year, the relay equipment was moved from the Sheep Camp area to a knoll west of Chilkoot Pass. The system continued to work flawlessly and it remained, unchanged except for annual maintenance, for a decade. In 1991, the agency attempted to replace the battery-powered system with a solar charging system, and communications that year suffered as a result. By the following spring, however, the problem had been corrected and the radio has proven relatively trouble-free ever since. [5]

As noted in Chapter 8, seasonal trail rangers hired during the 1970s and 1980s were asked not to perform law enforcement functions. Given that restriction, they were able to do little to prevent the occasional examples of wildlife killing, low-flying aircraft, firearms violations, and littering that they have observed. That policy changed in 1991 when the park hired its first seasonal commissioned ranger, Dave Stannich. Since then at least one seasonal ranger each year has had a law enforcement commission, and beginning in 1994, two or more commissioned rangers have worked each season. [6]

Rangers throughout the park's history have been given the task of enforcing NPS regulations, particularly as applied to the burning of historic wood and the removal of gold rush-era artifacts. In addition, the agency has long regulated camping locations. Starting in 1978, the NPS enforced a prohibition against camping between Sheep Camp and the Scales, and in 1980 the agency began to prohibit all camping except at the Sawmill, Finnegan's Point, Canyon City, Pleasant Camp, and Sheep Camp. Another regulation begun in 1980 prohibited camping within the shelters. The Sawmill, one of the five designated campgrounds, became off-limits to campers beginning in 1983 due to complications arising from the Mahle Native claims. [7]

Rangers have performed numerous instances of first aid to injured hikers. On several occasions, injuries have been so substantial that helicopter evacuations to Skagway or Juneau have been necessary. No deaths have been recorded, either on the Canadian or U. S. side of the trail, since recreational use of the Chilkoot began in the 1960s, nor have any deaths taken place as a direct result of injuries sustained on a Chilkoot hike. [8]

Rangers have compiled an impressive amount of information about the natural resources of the trail corridor. During the mid-1970s, Scott Sappington (a college-trained wildlife biologist) had incorporated an impressive number of wildlife and wildflower observations into his annual trail ranger reports, and in 1981, ranger and ornithologist Bruce Edmonston had compiled a list of bird species observed along the trail. [9] In 1986, Scott Home (formerly known as Scott Sappington) returned to the trail and compiled a brief overview of area wildlife. He distributed copies to park staff and interested trail hikers. In addition, rangers typically recorded their wildlife observations on daily patrol forms. The Chief Ranger was well aware that the park needed to collect formal baseline data on the trail's natural resources; it similarly needed to develop policies on backcountry management. Those projects, however, remained unfulfilled until the mid-1990s, when the park's newly-hired biological technician and natural resource specialist began to undertake them. [10]

Trail Use and Facility Development

During the decade that followed the passage of the park bill, the Klondike rangers contended with an increasing number of Chilkoot hikers. Between 1973 and 1976, as noted in Chapter 4, the annual number of hikers had climbed from 1,070 to 1,508 (see Appendix A). That number continued to increase for the next five years; in 1978 more than 2,000 hiked the trail, and in 1981 the number of hikers topped 2,500. The surging number of trail hikers caused some in the agency to recommend that measures to be taken to limit use, while others recommended that a backcountry management plan be written that would include such topics as group size and a permit system. [11] After 1982, however, the closing of the railroad resulted in a decrease in the trail's popularity. In 1985 only 1,449 hikers were recorded--a 44 percent decrease in just four years. As a result, NPS officials had few concerns during this period about the number of trail hikers.

More than nine-tenths of those latter-day Argonauts typically hiked the pass in a northbound direction. Almost everyone hiked the trail between early June and late September, and some three-quarters of them hiked between July 15 and August 15. [12] Winter travel was relatively light. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, scattered visitors reportedly hiked up the trail each winter. Of those that did, many failed to complete their journey, and several suffered injuries and had to be evacuated. The number of wintertime hikers dropped off dramatically following the railroad shutdown in October 1982. [13]

Most Chilkoot hikers during this period carried backpacks and took three to five days to complete their trip. At least one party, however, carried a canoe over the pass, and in 1981 an Englishman bicycled the route. In 1975, a group of modern-day stampeders built a raft at Bennett Lake and floated down the Yukon River; after completing their two-year trip, the rafters gained the sponsorship of the National Geographic Society; they returned to the area and repeated their efforts for a PBS documentary called Yukon Passage. [14] Still others wanted to hike the trail as quickly as possible. In 1974 a Juneau runner covered the 33 miles between Dyea and Bennett in 10-1/2 hours. That record was broken three years later by another Juneauite who ran the trail in 8-1/2 hours, and in 1979 by a four-man team, again from Juneau, who combined to run the trail in 6 hours and 47 minutes. Since that time runners have tested the Chilkoot almost every year. As a result, the single-person record has been lowered to 8 hours, but the relay record set in 1979 still stands. The NPS rangers looked askance at such activities; one called a record-breaking run a mark of "dubious distinction." [15]

Trail usage, low during the mid-1980s, soon began to bounce back to former levels, in part because the WP&YR returned to service. In 1989, hiker volume exceeded 2,000 for the first time since 1982. In 1992 a new record was set when 2,748 hikers were tabulated, and the following year that record was broken when trail rangers counted almost 3,000 hikers. In 1994, 2,623 hikers were recorded, while 3,628 made the hike in 1995. [16]

The increasing number of hikers had two primary effects on the resources in the trail corridor. One (perhaps coincidental) consequence was an increase in the degree of contact between humans and bears. NPS rangers, even before the establishment of the park, had been well aware that the Taiya River valley was prime black bear habitat, and to prepare hikers for possible bear encounters, a seasonal ranger had prepared the park's first bear information booklet in 1979. [17]

Visitors each year thereafter spotted bears along the trail from time to time, and incidents involving damage to tents or backpacks occasionally took place. In 1980, 1983, and 1985, for instance, no problem bears were recorded. In August 1981 and June 1982, however, rangers had to use cracker shells on a Sheep Camp bear, and in August 1984, a bruin broke into the Sheep Camp ranger station. [18] Then, in 1986, the number of incidents dramatically increased. Bears were sighted 64 times that year; six of those incidents involved bears taking food from hikers. Two incidents were particularly noteworthy. During the July 4 weekend, bears caused $2,000 damage to the Canyon City campground. The NPS, in response, closed the campground for 17 days. In mid-August, bears struck again; as a result, Dyea resident Bob Hackett killed a bear after it had entered his house, and two days later, NPS ranger Scott Home killed a bear that had become a persistent guest at Sheep Camp campground. [19] Two years later, a black bear attacked the trail crew camp above Canyon City, and in 1989, a bear entered the Finnegan's Point campground and rummaged through a backpack. No further bear problems were encountered for the next several years, but in 1995, bears damaged a Sheep Camp facility and at Canyon City, rangers had to use cracker shells and rubber bullets keep bears at bay. In the Dyea townsite area that year, several "garbage bears" were spotted, and at least one was shot there (see Chapter 8). [20]

A second consequence of the increasing number of hikers was the increasingly heavy toll visitors made on trail resources. Those impacts were manifested to the greatest degree in and around Sheep Camp, Canyon City, and the other campsites. Larger crowds resulted in more woodcutting, more littering, more danger to the trail's cultural resources, a demand for more camping space, and other environmental pressures.

In response to the increasing degradation, the park decided to improve its campgrounds and trailside facilities. Perhaps the most critical problem existed at the Sheep Camp campground. In order to allay the natural and cultural deterioration caused by hiker use, park officials had proposed for years that the camp be moved. Finally, during the summer of 1991, the trail crew located a campground site; and soon afterward, archeologists completed compliance work and, much to their surprise, found many evidences of cultural material in the area. [21]

Soon afterward, the Alaska Congressional Delegation proposed the construction of cabins at several of the state's national park units; as part of that plan, it offered to fund the construction of several new hikers' shelters along the Chilkoot Trail. As a result of the delegation's action, the decision was made during the summer of 1992 to add four 12' x 14' public use cabins. Two of the cabins were to be constructed at the new Sheep Camp location, while one each would be built at Finnegan's Point and Pleasant Camp. Archeological clearances and an environmental assessment for the cabin construction were completed that year, and all of the cabins plus the new campground at Sheep Camp were completed during the summer of 1993. [22] Park staff soon discovered that the new, 37-site Sheep Camp campground, despite the planning that had preceded its opening, needed to be expanded. As a result, the park's maintenance crew constructed a wooden platform, to be used as a tenting site, during the summer of 1995. Plans call for several more to be built. [23] The former Sheep Camp warming shelter, built in 1963, is still being used; in 1995, it began serving as the NPS's public-use ranger station.

Another way in which park staff dealt with resource degradation along the trail was by requiring all hikers to obtain a backcountry permit. Park rangers announced the new policy during the spring of 1993. The permits were free and available to all who requested them, but they were necessary to inform hikers about trail regulations. The permit system was readily accepted; during their first year of use, permits were obtained by 95 percent of all hikers. [24]

In addition to the public use cabins mentioned above, park staff also replaced the Sheep Camp ranger station and built an equipment storage shed during this period. As noted above, a prefabricated ranger station had been flown to the site in 1973, and in 1975 a second building was erected adjacent to the first. Both structures, however, were merely plywood frames overlain by a wall tent, and by the mid-1980s both buildings needed to be replaced. In 1987, therefore, archeologists surveyed the site of a proposed new ranger residence, to be located just a few feet south of the old ranger station. Construction began during the spring of 1989 and was completed a year later. The new facility, constructed entirely of wood, boasted such amenities as gas lights, a stove, and a refrigerator, none of which had been available previously. [25]

Maintenance Activities

As noted in chapters 3 and 4, Chilkoot Trail maintenance was the state's responsibility during the 15-year period that preceded the Congressional passage of the Klondike park bill. From 1961 through 1968, the Division of Youth and Adult Authority maintained the trail, and from 1969 through 1972 personnel from the state's Division of Parks spent a short time each year clearing the trail, replacing bridges, and performing similar maintenance duties. The first state-federal cooperative agreement, signed in August 1972, stated that "The Department [of Natural Resources] provides early season maintenance of the trail but is unable to provide season-long protection for hikers or historical resources." As a result of that agreement, the state continued its maintenance activities through the summer of 1976; during the same period, NPS rangers were responsible for the hiker safety and the protection of the area's natural and cultural resources.

In 1977, the NPS began contracting for its own maintenance crews. These crews camped in various spots along the trail and performed large-scale trail work, while park rangers were relied upon for minor bridge repairs and other maintenance tasks. [26]

In 1979 the NPS hired a three-person crew, and foreman William W. Edwards purchased "a full complement" of maintenance equipment. The crew had its hands full that summer. It developed "temporary" campsites at the Sawmill, at Finnegan's Point, and at Pleasant Camp. Then, in early July, the bridges at both 6.5 mile and 11.0 mile [27] washed out. The crew was able to make only temporary bridge repairs that season, because the equipment Edwards ordered did not arrive until fall. [28]

By 1979 the modern trail had been in use for almost two decades, and the combination of aging, limited facilities and a boom in trail visitation demanded an overhaul of the existing trail infrastructure. Mike Shields, a trail foreman from North Cascades National Park, had made a detailed survey of trail needs the previous summer, and in 1979 Edwards wrote an assessment report that largely echoed Shields' recommendations. The two men recommended, among other things, that a new campground be established at 1.5 mile and that the campgrounds surrounding the Canyon City and Sheep Camp shelters be expanded. They also noted that the only pit toilets were at Canyon City and Sheep Camp; therefore, they recommended the construction of five or six new toilets. A total of 14 bridges along the trail needed replacing; they suggested that 12 be replaced in situ, while the other two (at 6.5 mile and 11.0 mile, as noted above) be moved a few feet away from their former locations. [29]

The two reports were forwarded to the Alaska Area Office. Citing resource conflicts, cultural resources personnel protested that portion of the report recommending the expansion of the Canyon City or Sheep Camp campgrounds. Area Director John Cook upheld that protest; otherwise, however, he adopted Edwards' suggestions. The NPS then forwarded the reports to William Hanable, the State Historic Preservation Officer, for his approval. [30]

In order to ascertain the impact of the proposed maintenance activities on cultural resources, and to respond to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) concerns, historian Bill Brown organized an interagency Chilkoot hike. The hike, which took place from June 2 to June 6, 1980, consisted of five others from the NPS (Klondike Superintendent Richard Sims, and Howard Wagner, Robert Peterson, Douglas Warnock, and Ken Schoenberg, all from the Alaska Area Office), Chip Dennerlein of the Alaska Division of Parks, Parks Canada officials, and several other interested parties. Soon after the completion of the hike, an NPS official was able to assure the ACHP that his agency had conducted an on-site archeological investigation at all of the proposed maintenance activity sites. Alaska Area Historian Bill Brown also wrote a brief preservation plan that identified the major trailside resources. [31]

The five-person maintenance crew, headed by Jerry Watson, installed pit toilets that year for the "temporary" campgrounds at the Sawmill, Finnegan's Point, and Pleasant Camp. On a larger scale, the crew established an ad hoc maintenance camp on a remote, high perch located one-half mile north of the Canyon City shelter and east of the recreational trail. The crew lived in tents during its first year at the new site; during later years, canvas was gradually replaced with plywood in order to bearproof the maintenance equipment and the crews' personal belongings. [32]

In 1981, rehabilitation of the trail infrastructure continued. In September 1981 the Taiya River flooded; as part of that flood, the bridges at 1.5 mile and near 11 mile were destroyed, and several smaller bridges were also washed away. Those, however, were soon replaced, and by the end of season, NPS crews proudly noted that they had replaced 16 log bridges since 1979. [33]

A major project, begun in 1981 and completed in 1982, was the replacement of two of the largest bridges on the trail. These were the 6.5 and 11.0 mile bridges that had been washed away in the July 1979 flood. [34] Rather than replace the 11.0 mile bridge with a log structure that might last for only a short period, maintenance personnel decided (much to the dismay of cultural resources personnel, who saw it as a modern intrusion) to construct a suspension bridge at the site. Later that year they installed a second suspension bridge over the Taiya River, to connect the trail with the historical site of Canyon City. They also installed a 90-foot log bridge in 1982 and three shorter log bridges. [35]

By the end of the 1982 season the maintenance crew had completed the most critical of its upgrading projects. For the remainder of the decade, the crew kept busy replacing destroyed or deteriorated bridges, maintaining the shelters, clearing the trail, and improving the tread. Major projects during the period included draining a boggy, quarter-mile section of trail near Finnegan's Point, in 1983, and relocating three pit toilets, in 1984. In 1987, the crew replaced the 32-foot bridge at 13 mile using laminated beams flown into the site by helicopter. But an avalanche north of Sheep Camp in early 1988 destroyed the bridge, requiring it to be rebuilt that September. [36] The first major bridge to fail during the 1990s was the 90-foot bridge at 1.5 mile. The log bridge washed away in the fall of 1990 and was replaced with an upgraded, steel bridge the following spring. Then, in the fall of 1993 and 1994, floods damaged or destroyed several other bridges; the largest was the Canyon City suspension bridge, which was damaged in 1994. Both floods also damaged the newly-relocated Sheep Camp campground. [37]

A major job that the crew undertook in August 1991 was the removal of the wreckage of a Lake Buccaneer amphibian on the mountainside south of the Scales. The wreckage dated from October 17, 1975; killed in the crash were two Michigan men, Robert Douglas and Noel Turner, one of whom owned the plane. The wreckage, strewn across the west-facing scree slope, was highly visible in the rocky, unvegetated location, and many hikers over the years considered it an eyesore. In order to clean up the area and to remove debris that did not contribute to the gold rush-era setting, the NPS maintenance crew dismantled the plane and removed it by helicopter. [38]

Throughout the 1980s and on into the mid-1990s, Jerry Watson has served as trail foreman (see Appendix B). He still serves in that position. From 1980 through 1995, he was assisted by Skagway resident Roy Nelson. Crew members that have served for more than one year during that period have included Mike Beierly, Bruce Hill, James A. (Andy) Robertson, Pat Moore, James Routzahn, Mike Catsi, and Bill Sell. The size of the crew ranged from three (in 1985) up to nine (in 1982). [39]

In 1984, the agency considered replacing its maintenance crew with a crew hired by a private company. The federal government that year, through the A-76 program, attempted to give private enterprise a greater opportunity to manage governmental functions. NPS officials, trying to do their part to implement the program, required all proposed projects to be maintenance related: road and trail maintenance, garbage collection, and similar endeavors. In Alaska, pilot projects were attempted at Denali National Park as well as at Klondike.

John Warder, Klondike's maintenance chief, felt that the most realistic A-76 implementation measure was the privatization of the Chilkoot Trail maintenance program. By February 1984, he had written a draft statement of work. That spring, he and other park officials travelled to Anchorage, finalized the document, and let the project out for bid. Two bids were received. Both were by Outside companies, and both bids at least four times as high as the NPS had been paying for its existing crews. The two bids were rejected, and there have been no serious attempts since that time to turn over Chilkoot Trail maintenance activities (or any other park operating functions) to the private sector. [40]

Interpretive Measures

When the Chilkoot Trail became part of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, hikers were already being provided basic interpretive services. As Chapter 3 and 4 have noted, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources printed a trail guide in 1968 (with revisions in 1972 and 1974), and the Klondike Gold Rush International Advisory Committee created a new, full-color guide in 1976. Additional interpretation became available in 1974, when NPS and Parks Canada rangers installed approximately 20 aluminum signs along the trail interpreting gold rush-era resources and events. The signs were adorned with historical photographs as well as both English and French text.

Since the establishment of the park, interpretation along the trail has changed relatively little. NPS officials, in the late 1970s, installed photocopied diaries of gold rush stampeders in the Canyon City and Sheep Camp shelters. In addition, several trail rangers have offered interpretive programs to Sheep Camp overnighters from time to time, and the Skagway visitor center has shown films about the hike. Since 1993, the ticket office in the old WP&YR depot has offered a slide-video which describes and interprets the trail for potential hikers. But the agency's primary effort, as described below, has been the updating and improvement of brochures and exhibits.

Brochures have been updated every few years since the park was authorized. In 1978, the agency worked with Parks Canada on a reprinting of its 1976 brochure, "The Historic Chilkoot Trail." In 1981, Interpretive Specialist David Cohen spearheaded the creation of an entirely new guide, entitled "Chilkoot Trail." [41] Cohen's successor, Betsy Duncan-Clark, coordinated the updating of the brochure in 1984, 1986, and 1988. The creation of each of these brochures was a team effort; the verbiage contained in each one was a result of the collaboration of NPS and Parks Canada staff, and the two agencies took turns in paying the printing costs. The Canadian Parks Service, a short-lived successor to Parks Canada, sponsored the creation of a new brochure, "A Hiker's Guide to the Chilkoot Trail," which was completed in March 1991. It was revised in 1993. Beginning in May 1996, the brochure was offered for sale, for the first time, at the park's new Alaska Natural History Association outlet in the visitor center. [42]

From time to time, park staff have recommended the creation of a Chilkoot Trail interpretive booklet that would be sold through the park's cooperating association. Supporters hoped that the guidebook would provide a more thorough trail history, and a more detailed description of trail resources, than the hiker's guide offered. Backers of the booklet noted that the efforts of Spude, Carley, and others had uncovered much new material about trail resources and that publication of such a volume would enhance the value of, and respect for, those resources. As noted in Chapter 8, however, Klondike's cooperating association lasted only a few years and was limited in its scope. Perhaps for that reason, or because other concerns were more pressing, such a volume was never published. [43]

In addition to the periodic updating of the trail guide, the primary interpretive activity has been the updating and installation of a series of trailside historical markers. In 1981, when the markers that had been designed by Parks Canada were just seven years old, the park's Interpretive Prospectus suggested the installation of a new series of wayside exhibits. Four of these markers, as noted in Chapter 8, would be located in Dyea--along Dyea Road, at the Slide Cemetery, beside the Long Wharf Pilings, and at the old false front (the A. M. Gregg Real Estate Office). Two others would be located at the trail head, six others along the U.S. side of the trail, and seven others on the Canadian side. Three markers were proposed in the Skagway historic district. [44]

The park's draft Resource Management Plan, issued in February 1982, strongly recommended new wayside exhibits. Park staff argued that the existing markers were "not adequate for today's trail and hikers." It was also noted that several of the new markers would be placed adjacent to particularly important trailside resources; for that reason, therefore, the markers were needed for resource protection purposes. [45]

In 1983, the wayside exhibit proposal was forwarded to the agency's Harpers Ferry Center, and Exhibit Planner Richard B. Hoffman was placed in charge. Hoffman and Interpretive Specialist Betsy Duncan-Clark conferred about the plan while hiking the trail that summer. After the hike, Hoffman offered a revised proposal that still called for three signs in Skagway and four in Dyea; the subjects of those signs, however, were slightly different that those proposed in 1981. The number of signs on the U.S. side of the trail, by now, had increased from eight to ten; the number in Canada had increased from seven to ten. [46]

In early 1984, the NPS and Parks Canada signed a cooperative agreement on the project, thus allowing the two agencies to work together. During the same period, NPS Regional Director Roger Contor committed the agency to the project. [47] That summer, Hoffman began to prepare a fully developed draft. The plan, which received input from both the NPS and Parks Canada, was completed in September 1985 and circulated for comment. By November, outgoing Superintendent Richard Sims predicted that the new interpretive signs would be installed in 1986. Research efforts related to the Chilkoot Trail Historic Structures Report, however, brought out a need to make major revisions to the draft plan, and those revisions were not submitted until April 1986. [48]

The plan was finalized and exhibit production began in 1987, and the following year, park staff received the completed markers and installed them along the trail. The completed plan consisted of 32 wayside exhibits. Of that number, three were located in Skagway, six in Dyea, ten on the U.S. side of the trail, and nine on the trail's Canadian side. [49] The new markers, which are supported by two posts, are more solidly constructed than the old ones, that had a single support post. Even so, several markers have been destroyed by snow loads or avalanches. Museum specialist Debra Sanders has provided maintenance assistance by periodically cleaning and waxing the obverse of the U.S. markers. [50]

In 1989, NPS personnel suggested that the trail be seen in a new light--not as a discrete assemblage of resources but as a unified, coherent cultural landscape. In order to implement the concept, a party of four NPS personnel--Regional Historical Architect Steve Peterson, Regional Historian Kate Lidfors, Cultural Resource Specialist Karl Gurcke, and Cultural Landscape Specialist Cathy Gilbert from the Pacific Northwest Regional Office--hiked the trail that September. Soon afterward, Gilbert wrote a draft cultural landscape report that emphasized the philosophy of the trail experience and the means to preserve it. Those who accompanied her were impressed by the report and offered positive comments. No final report was issued, but many of the suggestions she propounded were later incorporated into the draft version of the park's general management plan. [51]

Boundary and Ownership Proposals

When established in 1976, the park included a 9,087-acre Chilkoot Trail Unit, which was approximately 17 miles long and one mile wide. More than four-fifths of that unit was owned by the State of Alaska. Along the Chilkoot Trail corridor north of Dyea, the state controlled an even higher percentage of land. The only other parties with an interest in the corridor were the NPS, which owned just a small (270-acre) triangular slice of land near the top of Chilkoot Pass, and the three Mahle brothers, who in 1971 had applied for Native allotments between the trailhead and Finnegan's Point.

As noted in the section below, the Mahles eventually gained title to the acreage for which they had applied. No other changes have been recorded since 1976, even though several parties during the past two decades have attempted to modify either the size or the ownership pattern in the trail corridor.

The first proposal to change the existing order, as noted in Chapter 8, came in 1981. Relations between the NPS and local residents had been poor ever since the agency had issued its draft land acquisition plan in April 1980, and during the winter of 1980-81 relations had deteriorated even further. In the midst of that situation, the State of Alaska began to push for the development of a hydroelectric project on West Creek, and preliminary surveys showed that both the powerplant and adjacent transmission lines would be located on park land. Marvin Taylor, a pro-development member of the city council, reacted to the proposed West Creek plans by suggesting, at the March 26 public meeting attended by NPS Regional Director John Cook, that the Chilkoot Trail Unit be reduced to eliminate the Dyea area from the park. That suggestion had won the "unanimous approval of those in attendance," so the city noted Taylor's suggestion in a letter to the Alaska Congressional Delegation. Taylor noted that the city had always wanted to preserve the Chilkoot Trail but not "have the whole Dyea valley turned into and managed like a wilderness area." Local residents also supported the city's action because they were afraid that the park service would oppose and stifle potential hydroelectric development on West Creek if transmission lines crossed the park boundary. Cook, in response to Taylor's suggestion, noted that he had heard him "loud and clear." He refused, however, to take a position on the issue. [52]

Taylor's idea was then incorporated into a city council resolution, which was passed at the council's September 3 meeting. The resolution called on Congress to reduce the Chilkoot Trail Unit to a 100-foot strip that stretched along the trail from Dyea to the top of Chilkoot Pass. [53] The resolution was forwarded to the Congressional delegation, and in response to Senator Murkowski's wishes, NPS officials in Washington helped prepare a draft bill that would carry out the council's suggestions. Neither Murkowski nor others in the delegation, however, introduced such a bill, and the matter was dropped. In subsequent years, the idea of reducing or eliminating the Chilkoot Trail Unit has not been reconsidered. [54]

The state, in the context of the West Creek project, has twice attempted to gain title to NPS land in the Dyea area. As noted in Chapter 8, authorities had pursued an unsuccessful federal-state land trade in 1982; that trade had not involved land in the trail corridor. Five years later, the state's Division of Land and Water Management revived the trade idea. This time, the proposed plan would have deeded the 22-acre powerhouse site to the state in exchange for a 40-acre parcel surrounding Canyon City and an 80-acre parcel surrounding Sheep Camp. By August 1987, the trade was "in the process of being completed" and seemed on its way to being consummated. [55] But an appraisal of the three properties revealed substantial differences in land values, and the proposed swap was put on hold for the time being. [56]

In the fall of 1989, as noted in Chapter 8, another plan arose that held the potential for the NPS to acquire parcels in the Chilkoot Trail Unit. The City of Skagway attempted for the second time to select lands as part of its Municipal Entitlement Program allotment. (Their first attempt, nine years earlier, had primarily involved land in the Dyea area.) The city's selection included more than 1,000 acres within the park and included land on Dyea flats, at Canyon City and at Sheep Camp. The NPS and the city discussed a proposed arrangement, but the state, engulfed by the Mental Health Trust controversy, placed the selections on hold. The proposed land transfers did not take place, at least for the time being. [57]

The NPS has consistently noted, in its discussions with state DNR officials, its interest in acquiring state land in the trail corridor. In 1989, the issue re-emerged when the federal-state Memorandum of Understanding came up for renewal. NPS officials, during discussions held prior to the renewal, let it be known that the agency had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars maintaining and patrolling the trail, constructing permanent improvements, and identifying cultural resources. As a result, the agency could not continue indefinitely to spend money on state lands without some assurance that the lands would be transferred to federal ownership in the very near future. [58]

Given that caveat, the state and NPS signed the revised MOU in December 1989 and January 1990, respectively. Soon afterward, the state began looking at other federal lands in Alaska that could be used in negotiating an exchange for its Dyea and Chilkoot Trail parcels. Superintendent Alderson met several times with Alaska State Parks director Neil Johannsen on the matter. Following those meetings, the state determined that the only federal lands that they wanted to acquire were NPS lands. The NPS, however, refused to release any parcels already included within park boundaries. [59] Alderson, however, would not accept that standoff. He set up a meeting on the issue with Johannsen and Ron Swanson, the latter the director of the state's Division of Land Management. After that meeting, which took place in 1991, Swanson and Johannsen offered to sell the state's land in the park to the federal government. Congress, however, showed little interest in modifying the park act to allow the purchase of park lands, and the matter was dropped. [60]

The Mahle Native Allotments

As noted in the section above, the only private claims for land in the Chilkoot Trail Unit north of Dyea have been three Native claims. The claims are located on the east side of the Taiya River; they extend for approximately two miles along the trail corridor. The claims begin just south of the Hosford Sawmill and continue most of the way to Finnegan's Point.

On April 19, 1971, Skagway resident Andrew C. Mahle filed for a Native Allotment under the provisions of the Act of May 17, 1906. Six months later, on October 7, his brothers Fred O. Mahle and Harlan L. Mahle filed similar applications. Fred applied for an 80-acre parcel, which included the sawmill, plus two other parcels outside of the park; Harlan applied for an 80-acre parcel north of Fred's, plus one other outside parcel; and Andrew applied for a 160-acre parcel just north of Harlan's.

The Mahle brothers, who were of Aleut ancestry, moved to Skagway when they were young. Fred, who was born in 1931, claimed that he had built a cabin on his parcel in 1943 and claimed continuous use and occupancy since then. Both Andrew, born in 1936, and Harlan, who was older than Fred, claimed use of their parcels prior to 1948. With the exception of Fred, the three brothers made no claims of having lived on the land or improved it. Instead, they based their claim on having trapped and cut timber on their individual parcels to the exclusion of others. They also claimed that they had fished and picked berries on the parcels in order to provide food for the St. Pius X Mission residential school, where all were students. [61]

The Bureau of Land Management spent the next several years processing the Mahles' applications. Field and mineral examinations were conducted, reports written, archeological surveys completed, and the claims surveyed. Additional evidence was requested from the applicants. The field reports and surveys clearly showed that the recreational Chilkoot Trail passed through each of the allotments. The field reports recommended that a public easement 50 feet on each side of the trail's centerline be reserved in any conveyance to the Mahles.

On June 1, 1981, pursuant to Sec. 905(a)(5) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the State filed access protests on Andrew and Fred Mahle's claims. The State also filed protests on all three claims based on Sec. 905(a)(4) of ANILCA, because the claims conflicted with lands the State had filed applications on in June 1961. These latter protests were declared invalid and dismissed by BLM.

During the summer of 1982, the Harlan Mahle family (Harlan had died in January 1977) threatened to close the Chilkoot to recreational hikers. In response, NPS Regional Director John Cook asked Jack Allen, Regional Solicitor for the Department of the Interior Solicitor's Office, if the Mahles could legally close the trail prior to conveyance. Cook also asked three other questions regarding the land's legal status if the allotments were approved. First, could a public easement be reserved? If so, what management authority would the NPS have over the trail where it crossed the allotment? Finally, what rights did the applicants have to use motorized vehicles? In his response, Allen stated that the Mahle had no right to close the trail if public use predated their use; also based on prior public use, he noted that the trail could be excluded from the allotment on the grounds that it was used communally by others. Allen further noted that the NPS could "request the Department of Justice to initiate action to protect the public right to use the trail." In order to do so, the NPS would need to compile a well-documented historical file proving longtime public use and determining precise trail locations. [62]

In March 1984, historian Robert Spude completed a 16-page report that chronicled use of the trail during the gold rush era, the period between 1910 and 1945, and during the postwar era. He concluded that "The Chilkoot Trail has been in continuous use by the Chilkoot Tlingit as a trading route, by gold rush era stampeders and by recreationists.... The historic route and present trail pass through the three Native allotment applications." Spude's report was filed with the BLM on May 3, 1984. [63]

By decision dated June 21, 1984, the BLM held for approval Andrew Mahle's claim. The decision stated the Certificate of Allotment would be subject to the continued right of public access across the Chilkoot Trail, not to exceed 25 feet in width. This was one-quarter the width that had been recommended by the BLM field examiner in 1972.

On July 3, Andrew Mahle protested the decision, claiming that at the time he built bridges and a road across the Taiya River in 1949-1950, the Chilkoot Trail had followed the west side of the Taiya River and therefore the trail should not be reserved. On July 9,1984, the BLM vacated the June 21 decision until further historical research and evaluation was completed. [64]

The NPS produced three additional reports, all written by Robert Spude, and gave them to the BLM on July 3, 1985. The first detailed the historic (gold rush-era) location of the Chilkoot Trail in the Sawmill area by providing photographs and maps which buttressed the conclusions Spude had made in his March 1984 report. The second report described the use of the Sawmill area between 1946 and 1961, the period when the Mahles claimed to be active in the allotment area. The third report was an annotated bibliography of sources related to Spude's research. [65]

By the time the NPS had submitted its reports, the State of Alaska had filed its own objections to the claims. The State, in letters signed May 17, 1985, stated that the claims were invalid because none of the three brothers claimed use and occupancy prior to January 13, 1948, when Public Land Order 436 closed the Taiya River valley to new claims. (See Chapter 2.) The State furthermore claimed that any use that was made was not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Native Allotment Act. Alaska Legal Services Corporation responded, by letter dated July 9, 1985, to several points raised in the state's letters. By December 1985, the state and the applicants were willing to negotiate a settlement. But the NPS apparently remained firmly opposed to any conveyance of the lands to the Mahles. [66]

In April 1985, the NPS contracted with Glenda Choate, a Skagway historian, to conduct oral histories with individuals knowledgeable of Chilkoot Trail use between the 1930s and the 1950s. Choate interviewed twelve of the town's longtime residents and got their opinions of the Mahles' activities in the Dyea area. By the end of August, Choate had completed her work and submitted the interviews to Robert Spude. Choate concluded from her interviews that "I have no doubt that the residents of Skagway used the Dyea Valley, that Ed Hosford built the sawmill and cleared the road to it, and later the Mahle brothers worked for Hosford at the mill." The information submitted by Choate was sent to BLM on February 12, 1986, shortly after the NPS again requested the BLM to initiate contest proceedings. [67]

Shortly after Choate had completed her interviews with local residents, she was again contracted to interview several others who had been out in the Dyea and Sawmill areas in the early days. During January and February 1986, Choate conducted another series of interviews; included in those interviews were state workers who helped open the Chilkoot Trail as well as local residents. Later that year, she obtained interviews or affidavits from several others familiar with early-day activities in the Taiya River valley. On September 5, 1986, Ed Hosford's interview was sent to the BLM. [68]

As part of its case, the NPS hoped to prove that several historical trails (hence public use corridors) passed through the Sawmill area. No one, however, knew the specific location of the historic wagon road in the Sawmill area. Spude, in 1985, had tried to obtain an archeological survey of the Sawmill area. But the local NPS archeologist, Karl Gurcke, was able to spare only a brief site visit. During the summer of 1986, however, a crew was able to make a full traverse of the area (see section below). As a result of that survey, the NPS was able to discern that the historic wagon road and the recreational trail were two separate routes. The wagon road's specific alignment, however, had been largely obscured by time, periodic floods, and timber cutting activities by the H&M Logging Company. [69]

On August 31, 1988, the BLM issued a decision approving Fred Mahle's application. This decision was later vacated but the BLM again approved by application by decision dated October 21, 1988. On December 1, 1988, the BLM made similar decisions in the cases of Andrew and Harlan Mahle. (Andrew died in February 1985; Harlan, as noted above, had died in January 1977.) The decisions noted that the brothers' "substantial use and ... occupancy was seasonal, and according to local customs," but was substantially continuous. The decisions found, however, that public use through the area was "at least as substantial" as the applicants' use; the public use predated the applicants' use; and the public use was "essentially continuous." Because the BLM did not know the exact location of the historic trail, and because the location of the right-of-way had changed at least once since the gold rush period, the BLM decided that the most reasonable location of a right-of-way through the corridor appeared to be along the present-day hiking trail since it had become the public's only established access route through the valley. The BLM stated in each decision, therefore, that the Certificate of Allotment would be subject to the continued right of public access, not to exceed 25 feet in width, along the trail as depicted on the U.S. surveys for each parcel. [70]

On November 17, 1988, the NPS appealed Fred Mahle's decision and on January 4, 1989, the agency appealed the other Mahles' decisions. It based its appeals on three reasons. First, the three applicants claimed occupancy of their parcels after PLO 436 (in January 1948) had withdrawn the land for other purposes. Second, the three brothers were neither 21 years of old nor heads of household prior to the withdrawal, and had no proof of emancipation. Third, there was no analysis of the substantial evidence that NPS had presented regarding the brothers' use of the land, and the brothers had not fulfilled the "substantial actual possession" of their parcels required by the 1906 act. [71]

The State also appealed the BLM decisions. Then, on April 7, 1989, the Interior Department's Acting Regional Solicitor notified the BLM and NPS that it would defend BLM's decision "in connection with the issues arising under Section 906 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Act and, if necessary, defense of the protection of the Chilkoot Trail." (Section 906 dealt with State selections and conveyances.) The Acting Regional Solicitor noted that the State had indicated it disagreed with BLM's findings of adequate use and occupancy and that the appeals of the state--and not the NPS--would test the correctness of the BLM decisions. The Solicitor's office stated that it was going to withdraw the NPS appeals, which it did on April 19, 1989. [72]

On April 25, 1989, the Solicitor's office informed the NPS that the State would settle with the Mahles if they would agree to a buffer zone. [73] Over the next eighteen months, attorneys with the State and the applicants' heirs (the longest-living applicant, Fred Mahle, died in February 1989) attempted to negotiate a settlement. As part of those negotiations Superintendent Clay Alderson and various Mahle family heirs hiked out to the allotments on June 15, 1990 and informally agreed that a 50-foot conservation easement would provide a sufficient barrier to protect hikers from visual encroachments. All hopes for a settlement broke down, however, because the heirs insisted on compensation. The NPS indicated that it would pursue acquisition of the claims, and the State withdrew its appeal on November 2, 1990. [74]

On February 11, 1991, the BLM conveyed the parcels to the heirs of the three brothers. Andrew Mahle's heirs received 156.58 acres; Harlan Mahle's heirs received 80.00 acres, and Fred Mahle's heirs received 79.97 acres.

As soon as the lands were conveyed, the NPS notified the attorneys representing the new owners that it would be interested in purchasing the three parcels. The agency knew that the claimants would be interested; the claimants, in fact, had long made it known that their primary interest in obtaining the parcels was to sell them back to the Park Service. [75]

Little activity took place on the matter until early 1993, when John Brower, with Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, contacted NPS lands official Charles Gilbert about a possible purchase of the three parcels. Superintendent Alderson backed the acquisition; he noted the allotment's cultural resources (dating from the gold rush and post-gold rush eras) and potential threats to the land if the purchase was not consummated. [76] On May 13, 1993, Regional Director John M. Morehead requested emergency/hardship funding for the acquisitions.

Research into the parcels determined that a small portion of the Andrew Mahle property--approximately 18.95 acres of the 156.58-acre parcel--lay outside of the park. However, because the portion outside of the park was largely unmanageable and because the owners were not interested in subdividing the parcel, the NPS concluded that the 18.95-acre portion of the parcel was an uneconomic remnant and that the agency could acquire it. [77]

The appraisals that were completed for the parcels have not been approved. Because of this, the funding for the acquisitions was pulled in fiscal year 1994 and the acquisitions are currently on hold.

In 1995, Andrew Mahle's Native claim--the northernmost and largest of the three parcels--was sold for $90,000 to Temsco Helicopters, a Juneau-based company that had been flying tourists from Skagway to the Nourse glaciers for the past several years. Temsco has not yet made any modifications to the 156.58-acre parcel.

Concessions Management Issues

Of the thousands of park visitors that have hiked over the Chilkoot Trail, relatively few have been part of a commercially-guided group. As has been noted in Chapter 3, some commercial trips predated the park. Wes Nelson, a Dyea resident, conducted horseback trips up the Chilkoot from 1966 through 1973. Others took the trip with local resident Robert O. "Skip" Burns, whose Klondike Safaris operated from 1970 through 1978. [78]

In 1972 a new guiding company, Alaska Discovery, began to offer guided trips over the trail. The company, based in Gustavus, offered adventure tours in many areas of southeastern Alaska, and one of its major destinations was Glacier Bay National Monument. According to company personnel, the firm played a significant role in improving the trail during 1972 and 1973, and it continued to offer trips over the pass until 1976, when it agreed to replace its trips with those of Mountain Travel, an Albany, California-based tour operator. Mountain Travel offered annual trips over the Chilkoot until 1984. [79]

In 1979 another company, Wilderness Ventures from Jackson, Wyoming, began offering Chilkoot trips. The company brought groups of high school students on trips to Alaska; as part of their excursion, the company offered one or two Chilkoot hikes each year. [80]

Beginning in 1979, the Alaska Area Office established a system by which commercial operators could use National Park system lands in the state. By 1981, a three-tiered system had emerged. The most visible operators were concessioners, who were given the exclusive right to manage facilities such as hotels and fishing camps located on park lands. Second, the NPS established limited concessions permits (LCPs) for uses that the agency wished to limit. Third, the agency established commercial use licenses (CULs) for casual day use on park lands.

Under this system, scores of LCPs and CULs were issued for use in the Alaska parks during the early 1980s. Neither of these devices, however, were utilized at the various park units in and around Skagway. The Chilkoot Trail, and other Klondike park units, remained unregulated because the federal-state cooperative agreement, which had been signed in April 1978 and remained in effect through the early 1980s, did not give the NPS the authority to regulate concessions operations. The result of that situation, as one NPS employee noted, was that "in essence, no commercial operations were allowed." NPS rangers--and doubtless the superintendent as well--were certainly aware of the commercial trips, but they were in no position to license or regulate their activities. [81]

In April 1983 Bonnie Kaden, a representative of Alaska Discovery, wrote to Superintendent Sims and asked for a permit. To justify the granting of the permit, she outlined in some detail the company's ten-year record of activity. Sims, however, denied her request, citing the cooperative agreement and the "added pressure" that organized groups inflicted on the trail's camping areas. Kaden, not to be dissuaded, wrote to Regional Director Roger Contor about the situation and again requested a permit. [82]

So far as is known, Contor did not reply to the Alaska Discovery representative. Her request, however, had not fallen on deaf ears. Later that year, NPS representatives met with their counterparts at the State of Alaska to renew the cooperative agreement, and when it was signed in February 1984, it included a provision that allowed the NPS to exercise jurisdiction and enforce the provisions of 36 CFR on state-controlled lands within the park. (As noted in Chapter 8, local citizens went into an uproar over the new agreement, but the revised agreement, signed in November 1984, retained the provisions outlined in the earlier document except as they applied to hunting.) [83]

Given the new agreement, NPS officials were free to establish a regulatory system for commercial operators using the Chilkoot Trail. They did not, however, have a basis on which to establish that system. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, passed in December 1980, had contained a provision (Section 1307(a)) that had allowed commercial operators who had been active in January 1979 to continue their operations. That clause, however, applied only to NPS units that had been "established ... or added to" by ANILCA. Although Klondike had not been affected by the act, Regional Director Roger Contor asked the NPS director to approve a policy for the park similar to that contained in Section 1307. "We wish," wrote Contor, "to recognize and directly negotiate concessions authorizations with those individuals and companies who can prove a substantial history of leading trips across the Chilkoot Trail." In October 1984, Washington concurred with Contor's suggestion. [84]

Having received approval to regulate commercial operations, the only remaining question in the minds of the NPS was who should be granted a permit. In late 1984, Mountain Travel (which had been guiding trips over the Chilkoot since 1976) was the only company of which NPS officials were aware. Mountain Travel, however, recommended that Alaska Discovery (with whom it had long been associated) be given the permit instead. As a result, Alaska Discovery--based now in Juneau--was issued a limited concessions permit in February 1985. That permit, which cost $100 per year, gave the company the exclusive right to operate commercial trips over the trail. [85]

For the next three years, Alaska Discovery was the sole permittee along the Chilkoot Trail. Under that arrangement, the company guided trips for such groups as Tamarack Camps, the City of Juneau, and Wilderness Ventures. The NPS required that Alaska Discovery conduct no more than two commercial trips per year. That limit was determined because the company had traditionally offered two annual trips, and because the NPS wanted to limit the number of trips to traditional use levels. [86]

Most of the groups were comfortable with the existing arrangement. Wilderness Ventures, however, was not. As noted above, the company had been organizing trips over the Chilkoot since 1979, but for some reason NPS officials were unaware of their record of activity. The company was angry that they had to pay guiding fees to Alaska Discovery; they were also angry at the NPS's restriction on the number of annual trips. Alaska Discovery officials, who were not antagonistic to Wilderness Venture's complaints, lobbied the NPS for an additional two trips. That request was approved for the 1987 season. That winter, Wilderness Ventures told NPS officials that it, too, wanted to obtain a permit. On March 24, 1988 the agency relented, and asked the company to summarize and document its experience on the Chilkoot. Wilderness Ventures did so, and in 1988 and 1989, both Alaska Discovery and Wilderness Ventures held limited concessions permits for the Chilkoot Trail. [87]

In early 1988, regional officials began to write a park concessions management plan. The plan, which was intended to address the commercial uses of the Chilkoot Trail relative to guide service and outfitting, was compiled with the help of staff from the park as well as the Canadian Parks Service. During the writing phase, no action was taken to modify the existing concession system. The plan was finally completed in rough draft in early 1990. It was never finalized. [88]

During the winter of 1989-1990, the NPS decided to further loosen its controls on the commercial usage of the Chilkoot Trail, and it let it be known that any potential guides need only obtain a $75 commercial use license. During the first summer under the new system, Wilderness Ventures obtained a CUL. Alaska Discovery, however, did not; instead, one was secured by Tamarack Camps, a company that had been operating under Alaska Discovery's LCP since 1987 if not before. [89]

Since 1990, a total of seven operators have taken commercial groups over the Chilkoot Trail. The number of operators has ranged from three (in 1990 and 1991) to six (in 1995). There has been a recent trend toward foreign operators; none existed prior to 1992, but by 1993 more than half of the operators hailed from outside of the United States. [90] A more recent trend has been the inauguration of four-mile day hikes for small groups of cruise ship passengers. These trips began to be offered in 1995 by two groups: Gray Line of Alaska and Chilkat Guides, Ltd. [91]

Most of the commercial trail users, foreign and domestic, have followed the agency's regulations and obtained commercial use licenses. A smattering, however, have attempted to avoid the bureaucratic procedures and the costs involved. In 1991, rangers warned a German company, Wikinger Reisen (Viking Travel), that a CUL was required. Its leaders elected, however, to make a second attempt in 1992 without registering beforehand. The group was caught and a federal court fined its leaders $3,500. A Swiss operator, Intertreck, pleaded guilty to the same violation. [92]

In 1992, in conjunction with the upcoming General Management Plan, NPS officials resurrected the draft Concessions Management Plan that had been written during the late 1980s. Regional and park officials teamed up and updated the plan, and a revised draft was completed in May 1995. [93]

Resource Management Activities

Since the 1960s, there have been five significant steps taken to study and protect the Chilkoot Trail's cultural resources. The first effort, taken during the 1960s and 1970s, involved the removal of several knockdown boats from the top of Chilkoot Pass. Caroline Carley and Robert Spude followed with an archeological survey and historical research. During the early 1980s, the park conducted a two-year effort to inventory artifacts along the trail; these were followed, from time to time, by various artifact monitoring projects. During the mid-1980s, a historian and an historical architect compiled a draft historic structures report for the trail. Finally, teams of archeologists have spent several years conducting detailed field surveys of the trail corridor. In addition to cultural resource management work, some effort has been expended to manage the trail's natural resources.

Cultural resource protection along the trail began even before the park was authorized. The workers who constructed the recreational trail "rediscovered" more than 80 knockdown boats near the top of Chilkoot Pass, and in 1967 state trail crews removed twelve of them and gave them to various museums. None, however, were available for interpretive purposes, so in 1977, NPS rangers removed two additional boats and hauled them down to Skagway. The boats, still wrapped in canvas, were then shipped to the agency's technical center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and in 1980, the newly-restored boats (with original cross-bracing and replacement canvas) were sent to Seattle and Skagway, where they became major interpretive displays. The NPS has a third boat, still wrapped and unrestored, in its museum collection. [94]

Two years after the knockdown boats were removed, archeologist Caroline Carley and two assistants spent the summer on a cultural resource survey of the Chilkoot Trail. As noted in Chapter 8, the crew also surveyed resources in Dyea and the White Pass Unit; most of its efforts, however, were concentrated along the Chilkoot Trail. The trio surveyed the major occupation centers (Canyon City, Pleasant Camp, and Sheep Camp) and the three-mile corridor between Sheep Camp and the summit of Chilkoot Pass. As a result of their labors, they located more than 120 features, including at least 19 general features, 29 structures, 8 structural scatters, 26 foundations, 15 pits, 13 artifacts, and 15 artifact concentrations. The crew was able to record only a small percentage of the cultural material contained along the trail; it did, however, take slides and prints of many of the recorded features. Carley's work was published in 1981. [95]

The work of Carley and her crew was complementary to that of Robert Spude, the park's contract historian. Spude that year gathered both documentary and field-based information on the various gold camps, and in January 1981 the results of his research were published in Chilkoot Trail, a product of the University of Alaska's Cooperative Park Studies Unit. [96]

Carley and Spude's field work uncovered several previously unknown sections of the original Chilkoot Trail route, and soon afterward, a long-simmering debate was rekindled on whether the recreational trail should be relocated to the historical right-of-way. As Chapter 4 has noted, the 1973 master plan had suggested that the agency "relocate the present trail to its true historic location, where feasible." Rangers, however, had found that if historical trail segments also served the modern hiker, they were far less likely to retain their historical resources. As a result, the idea of realigning the recreational trail was discarded.

In the summer of 1979, however, the idea was revived. The agency ordered large-scale aerial photos for the trail corridor, the purpose of which would be "to attempt to locate the original trails and roads as well as to document present conditions." Meg Jensen, a seasonal ranger, told Anchorage cultural resource officials that most hikers were in favor of returning the trail to its historic route. [97] Based on that statement, the proper location of the recreational trail was discussed at the NPS planning conference held in Skagway in February 1980. At that conference, the planners tentatively decided to stay with the existing trail. They were open to the idea, however, of relocating the trailhead to the west side of the Taiya River, as it had been during the gold rush. It was because of this plan that the agency--to the chagrin of many local residents--had expressed the desire to acquire the various Dyea area homesteads. The planners also hoped to see the construction of short spurs from the recreational to the historic trail. A year later, perhaps because of the public controversy that the NPS's actions in Dyea had generated, regional official Douglas Warnock announced that the agency intended "to eventually relocate the Chilkoot Trail ... though not necessarily in the near future." By 1982, the agency was being even more cautious; in its draft Resource Management Plan, officials tentatively decided to improve the present trail route rather than relocate any portion of it. [98]

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the possible relocation of the trail was being discussed, neither the NPS nor local residents knew the specific location of the path, or paths, that comprised the Chilkoot Trail during the Klondike gold rush. Part of that information void was overcome by Robert Spude's research into the subject, much of which was manifested in reports pertaining to the Mahle Native claim cases (see above). As part of his work pertaining to the Chilkoot Trail Historic Structures Report, Frank Norris summed up existing knowledge on the trail's historic location. Then, beginning in the summer of 1986, the park began to sponsor a series of archeological surveys in the trail corridor, and each of those surveys has provided information on the specific location of the historic trail. But since the early 1980s, the park has never seriously considered moving the trail from the course laid out by the state of Alaska in the early 1960s. The only portions that have been rerouted have been short segments in the vicinity of recently-reconstructed bridges, and trail segments that have been washed away by periodic flooding. [99]

The third effort to gain knowledge about the trail's cultural resources was a two-year inventory of trail artifacts. The inventory took place in 1982 and 1983, but the idea for it went all the way back to the 1973 master plan, which had urged the agency to "preserve the hundreds of artifacts abandoned along the trail." A year later, the Final Environmental Statement for the proposed park had suggested that the agency, because it lacked adequate security measures, should "inventory and collect small artifacts along the trail. When sufficient protection exists, the artifacts will be replaced in their exact location, fastening them by means of cement or bolts." The FES also suggested that agency personnel fasten all removable parts of larger artifacts. [100]

In 1979, as noted above, Carley's archeological survey had identified hundreds of features. The survey, however, was by no means a complete artifact inventory. She and her crew had identified more than twenty vaguely-defined "artifact concentrations," and she frankly admitted that due to time constraints, the crew had been unable to identify or locate artifacts along much of the historic trail. As a result of her efforts, a few small artifacts that had been judged highly susceptible to theft or weathering had been removed from their location and placed in the park collection. Other objects, however, remained on-site and were permitted to weather with the elements. These actions were indicative of a new philosophy toward trail artifacts that had been manifested since the writing of the 1974 FES. [101]

The idea for a more complete artifact inventory began in June 1980 when, as noted above, a large contingent of staff from the NPS, Parks Canada, and other agencies walked over the Chilkoot Trail. The primary purpose of the hike was the mapping out of a trail maintenance program. But several cultural resource specialists were included on the walk, because cultural resources had to be considered should it be necessary to move bridge locations or otherwise disturb any new areas along the trail corridor.

Shortly after the hike was completed, an official with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation expressed reservations with the NPS's proposed maintenance activities. The official promised, however, that he would withdraw the ACHP's objections if the agency first promised to record, in place, all of the cultural resources that were in danger of being impacted by the proposed activities. In addition, the agency needed to develop a cultural resource management plan. Key to the plan was "a complete, comprehensive identification of all cultural resources along the Chilkoot Trail..." If the plan, however, could not prevent the continuation of vandalism, pot hunting, and erosion that had proven deleterious to the corridor's cultural resources, the official asked the NPS to undertake "a program of data recovery and cultural resource protection mechanisms." [102]

The agency, as noted above, satisfied the ACHP's first objection by having an Alaska Area Office archeologist visit the bridge-relocation sites. (The archeologist, Ken Schoenberg, surveyed the sites in October 1979 and returned for the June 1980 hike.) But the NPS could not hope to comply with the ACHP's second objection without undertaking a more extensive survey.

In order to overcome the ACHP's objections, park staff in early 1982 obtained some funds for the in-place preservation of artifacts. In response, park staff hired two seasonal technicians, Melissa McDonald and Colleen Davenport, to locate and identify Chilkoot Trail artifacts. The two women that summer spent more than nine weeks along the trail. As a result of their labors, they found 54 items in the old Canyon City townsite, 133 items in Sheep Camp, and 113 items in the Scales and Chilkoot Summit areas. Each item, when located, was identified with a black number on a white-painted background; it was then located geographically in relation to a well-known, easily visible reference point. The items were photographed and given a park museum collection identification number. McDonald and Davenport completed a report of their findings in late August 1982. [103]

During the winter that followed the team's field work, NPS staff read their report and mulled over their findings. Park officials recognized that a few of the located objects should be removed to the park museum. In accordance with the cooperative agreement, however, the park had to consult with state officials regarding such an activity. In order to inform state officials, NPS staff invited them on a hike over the Chilkoot Trail. That hike began on June 18, 1983. Historical Architect Paul W. Chattey, from the State Historic Preservation Office, represented the State of Alaska, while the NPS was represented by Regional Historian Bill Brown, Acting Regional Curator Frank Deckert, and Park Interpretive Specialist Betsy Duncan-Clark. Along the way, the party assessed the condition of the trailside artifacts and structures, and identified criteria for their preservation and treatment. They agreed on a philosophy of preservation--that the remaining structures should be stabilized and preserved but not reconstructed or otherwise improved. They also selected a few artifacts for removal to the park collection. Artifact removal, however, was postponed until later. In late August, eight items were removed from Canyon City and seven items from Sheep Camp; a month later twelve items were removed from the Scales. All 27 items were taken out by helicopter and are now in Skagway as part of the park's museum collection. [104]

Meanwhile, seasonal staff undertook a second summer of artifact identification. Colleen Sinnott (formerly known as Colleen Davenport) and Cathy Shank were hired to recheck the condition of the artifacts located in 1982, to locate new artifacts, and to distinguish those artifacts that should be included in a museum collection from those that should be preserved in situ or allowed to deteriorate. As to the first point, Sinnott and Shank were able to relocate all but 15 of the 306 artifacts found the previous year. They also found and photographed 297 new artifacts: 19 in Dyea, 81 in Canyon City, seven in Sheep Camp, and 190 in the Scales area. Of the newly-found artifacts, they recommended that 25 be preserved in place because of their "high quality or historical significance." [105]

At the end of the 1983 season, park and regional staff were informed that no more funds would be allotted to artifact inventory efforts. That winter, however, regional staff attempted to translate what had recently been learned into a trailwide preservation plan, to be approved by Parks Canada and Alaska State Parks as well as the NPS. A year earlier, a Juneau-based conservator named Mary Pat Wyatt prepared a "trail treatment proposal" that included elements of both cultural resource management and interpretation; that report was used as a basis for the proposed plan. [106]

Wyatt's recommendations were to some extent impractical; she suggested, for example, that each of the trail artifacts be lifted onto a well-drained gravel pad. Other portions of the report, however, were more sound, and on that basis, NPS historian Bill Brown recommended various preservation measures for structures located in the Scales and Chilkoot Summit areas. Brown also recommended the possible stabilization of other structural remains. He continued to push for a trailwide preservation plan. If that could not be effected, however, Brown recommended the imposition of a moratorium on the construction of any major interpretive facilities. [107]

Brown's recommendations were accepted, to a large extent, by the regional office hierarchy. Superintendent Sims, however, wanted them modified. He, like Brown, recognized the value of writing an integrated trail plan, and promised to present the idea at the spring 1984 meeting of state, NPS and Parks Canada officials. He demurred, however, at the idea of a construction moratorium, noting that the imposition of such a moratorium might delay progress on the Wayside Exhibit Plan, on which park staff had already been working for more than a year. [108]

By the spring of 1984, Brown was no longer working on Chilkoot issues; perhaps for that reason, the idea of an integrated trail plan did not come to fruition. Elements of the plan, however, persisted in the ideas of Robert Spude, who urged park officials (as noted in Chapter 8) to adopt crystallization as a wood preservation mechanism. Despite the lack of a plan, the idea of a moratorium was never adopted. Trail construction, as it turned out, was limited to the replacement of log bridges for the next several years. In 1988, however, the wayside exhibits were installed, and more recently, several structures have been erected in the trail corridor.

The next major effort to learn about the Chilkoot Trail's cultural resources began in 1985. Under the direction of Regional Historian Robert Spude, seasonal employee Frank Norris was asked that year to write several elements for the historical portion of the Chilkoot Trail Historic Structures Report. As Chapter 8 has noted, most of those elements pertained to resources in the Dyea area, but four elements described tramway-related features in Canyon City, on Long Hill, and at the Scales. In addition, Spude asked Norris to assist him in the ongoing data-collection efforts pertaining to the Mahle Native claims case by writing a history of the Hosford Sawmill Complex. [109]

The following year, Spude asked Norris to continue his work on the HSR. He wrote an additional eighteen elements that year; all but three described resources in the Chilkoot Trail corridor. In 1987, the seasonal historian completed his HSR work by writing seven brief histories of structural remnants in Dyea, Canyon City, and Sheep Camp.

The architectural component of the HSR was written by seasonal architect Carol Taylor. In 1985, Taylor resided in Skagway and completed Historic American Buildings Survey drawings of various tramway features. She also made drawings of structural remnants located in Dyea and along the trail. Two years later, Taylor returned and completed additional work on features in the Chilkoot Trail Unit.

The fifth Chilkoot Trail cultural resource project was, like the work of Norris and Taylor, a by-product of the need to complete the historic structures report. In order to complete the HSR's archeological component, regional officials hired Karl Gurcke as a seasonal archeologist. Gurcke, and those working with him, spent the summers of 1984 and 1985 on projects in Skagway and Dyea. In 1986, however, he commenced surveys in the trail corridor. He and his two-man crew surveyed the valley east of the Taiya River from Dyea to Finnegan's Point. [110]

Gurcke's archeological efforts were concentrated on Dyea for the remainder of the decade, but in 1990 his crews resumed their survey of the trail corridor. A three-person crew surveyed that summer from Finnegan's Point to and including Canyon City. The following summer, a two-person crew surveyed the east side of the Taiya River from Pleasant Camp to Sheep Camp in conjunction with the proposed new Sheep Camp campground (see section above). Trail work in 1992 was again related to compliance activities, specifically the proposed improvements at Finnegan's Point, Pleasant Camp, and Sheep Camp. A year later, however, regular survey work was able to resume again, and a four-person field crew surveyed the rugged east side of the Taiya River between Canyon City and Pleasant Camp. In 1994, a three-person archeological crew completed a survey along the artifact-rich west side of the river between Pleasant Camp and Sheep Camp, and in 1995, after the floods of the previous fall, a three-person crew did extensive compliance work in the Sheep Camp campground area. It did some compliance work, as well as a general survey, in a narrow corridor between Sheep Camp and the site of the Palm Sunday avalanche, and it also surveyed the site of the proposed campground at Pleasant Camp. [111]

The various Chilkoot field surveys since 1986 have revealed the true scale, variety, and complexity of the trail's cultural resources. Carley's 1979 survey had provided a tantalizing, intriguing hint of what lay in the trail corridor, and the artifact inventorying efforts of 1982-83 had provided additional clues. Most of those surveys, however, had concentrated on the trail's ghost towns. Gurcke's laborious efforts have shown that many areas between the major gold rush camps have proven rich in cultural resources. The records of the six-year effort, for example, have revealed the existence of more than 200 artifacts located outside of the various trail camps, few of which had been recorded previously. Archeologists have found a wide range of communications equipment--telephone poles, wires, and insulators--as well as privy pits, cooking pots, rock piles, log structure remains, and portions of the old wagon road. In 1995, the crew finally located its first site (a rock shelter with associated artifacts) from a period that predated the gold rush. [112]

In addition to the efforts made by Gurcke and his crews, personnel have periodically been assigned to evaluate the condition of the artifacts that had originally been inventoried in 1982 and 1983. In 1986, seasonal worker John Mulder reinventoried the artifacts in and around Canyon City. Then, in 1989, W. Scott Hoffman made a similar inventory of the Sheep Camp, Scales, and Summit areas. Hoffman continued his work the following year, working at Dyea and Sheep Camp, and in 1994, Lise Paradis resurveyed artifacts in the Canyon City and Scales areas. [113]

As noted at the beginning of the chapter, NPS staff had begun to assemble data on the area's natural resources back in 1973 when the first rangers were posted along the Chilkoot Trail. Rangers, particularly those who had a natural science background, had continued to gather natural resource data during the years that followed. The draft Resource Management Plan, which was written in 1982, decried the lack of natural resource information, and when the park's cultural resource specialist was hired in 1987, he was informed that he would be responsible for natural resource management as well. It was not until the 1990s, however, that park staff were able to consider the systematic gathering of such information.

Initial activity began in 1991. The park that year embarked on its first natural resource management program through a series of inventory and monitoring projects, all performed by the seasonal ranger staff. Wildlife observation points were established and all observations were entered in a computer database. Salmon spawning activity was also monitored in selected streams, and observations were made on regular basis throughout the season. Bald eagle nests in the Skagway area were inventoried, and the completed data were forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A cursory plant collection and inventory project was completed. The park spearheaded an educational program for the community on bearproofing homes and household garbage. [114]

Another step taken in 1991 was the commencement of correspondence that, two years later, led to a cooperative natural resource inventory program. NPS officials contacted Jere Chidester, a U.S. Forest Service official based in Juneau, and in response to his interest, the two agencies agreed in early 1993 to a Memorandum of Understanding and a Scope of Work for future efforts.

That summer, a Forest Service team under the leadership of plant ecologist Susan Trull conducted a weeklong field reconnaissance inventory of hydrology and plant communities in the park's Chilkoot Trail and White Pass units. As a result of those efforts, the Forest Service completed and published an ecological reconnaissance inventory the following March. The report contained GIS-formatted maps as well as text. Accompanying the report were some 500 plant specimens, which were catalogued and eventually deposited in the park herbarium. [115]

In 1994, the park signalled its interest in studying the area's natural resources when it hired seasonal biological technician Claudia Rector to initiate actions recommended by the reconnaissance inventory and to assist in the development of additional baseline data in support of the natural resource program. As a part of that effort, the park contracted with former NPS biologist Greg Streveler to provide professional consultation for the fledgling program. Rector inventoried another 480 plants that year from a variety of sites along the trail and in the Dyea area. In 1995 she continued her inventory work, collecting approximately 400 additional plant species. She initiated a bird survey under the auspices of the Neotropical Migrant Bird Monitoring Program, and she has recorded numerous wildlife observations. [116]

In 1995, the park signalled its continued interest in the natural resource program by hiring Damian Sedney as its first permanent Natural Resource Specialist.

Canadian Trail Planning

As noted in chapters 3 and 4, officials with the Canadian government--specifically with the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada--had been involved since the early 1960s in historical preservation efforts in Dawson, Whitehorse, and the Klondike gold fields. The Board recognized the historical importance of the Chilkoot Trail in 1967. An interest in preserving the trail's resources followed shortly afterward, during the same period in which U.S. officials began to work toward the preservation of sites in the Skagway vicinity.

The Canadians' first object of interest along the Chilkoot was the Bennett Church, where it was hoped an interpretive facility might be opened. But the opening of the trail by the Yukon Corrections Department, the completion of NPS's Skagway Alternatives Study, and the Labor Day hike of 1969 broadened the Canadians' interest in trail matters. In response to that interest, Secretary of the Interior Wally Hickel and the Canadian Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Jean Chrétien, issued a joint press release in December 1969 announcing an international historical park, based on the Klondike Gold Rush theme, to include sites in Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon.

Planning efforts followed quickly. Early in 1970, Canada's National Historic Sites Service issued a provisional development plan for the so-called Klondike International Historic Park that called for the stabilization and preservation of the Bennett Church, the acquisition of two or three railway cars for interpretive purposes, and a series of interpretive markers to be erected along the trail. A year later, a consulting firm was chosen to write a provisional master plan study for the Chilkoot Trail. That study, issued in February 1972, proposed the construction of a hotel at Bennett, along with campsites, cooking shelters and park staff scattered along the trail. The National and Historic Parks Branch, upon receiving the report, was quick to note that it was not in full agreement with its recommendations.

Prior to the issuance of the master plan study there had been little discussion about a park on the Canadian side of the trail. But the completion of a master plan on the U.S. side of the border, the submittal of a park bill in the U.S. Congress, and the recommendations of the Canadians' master plan, all played a role in furthering park creation efforts. Those efforts culminated in a June 13, 1973 announcement by Jean Chrétien, the Minster of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and Jack Radford, British Columbia's Minister of Recreation and Conservation. Chrétien and Radford reached an agreement in principle that provided for the construction of the Skagway-Carcross Road across provincial lands. It also paved the way for the eventual transfer of some 80 square miles from the province to the federal government for park purposes. All signs seemed to point to the creation of a large historic park on the Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail.

After the joint announcement, however, park plans got bogged down in British Columbia's bureaucracy. Jack Radford soon learned that his road-park agreement ran afoul with the Provincial Water Resources Chief Engineer, who argued that the trail corridor was still legally covered by a power withdrawal that extended back to the Yukon-Taiya Project days of the late 1940s. Another roadblock related to aboriginal land rights; the Federal government recognized such rights but the B.C. government did not. In 1974, the province's Environment and Land Use Committee was given the task of resolving these conflicts. The committee was not immediately successful, and the stalemate continued until the park on the U.S. side became a reality.

Shortly after the authorization of the U.S. park, Minister of Recreation and Conservation Robert Samuel (Sam) Bawlf introduced a bill in the British Columbia legislature that would have transferred provincial land and water along the trail to the federal government, as per the 1973 agreement. [117] That bill, however, did not become law, and for the next decade little progress was made on the establishment of a park on the Canadian side of the trail.

Despite the lack of a formally-designated park, the Canadian parks personnel nevertheless managed the trail in much the same way as if a park existed. As noted in Chapter 4, Bruce Harvey of the National and Historic Parks Branch first dispatched personnel to the trail in 1972; a four-student crew spent two summers cataloguing trail artifacts. Then, in 1974, a four-person crew from Parks Canada--two warden patrolpersons and two maintenance workers--began serving along the trail from their Lindeman City base camp. [118]

Parks Canada (or its successor agencies, Environment Canada-Parks and the Canadian Parks Service) [119] continued to manage the trail for another 19 years as one of the Yukon National Historic Sites. The size of the Lindeman-based crew has varied over the years with the introduction and reduction in the number of Native trainees, COSEP [120] students, bilingual (Francophone) patrolpersons, archeologists, and contract maintenance workers. As a result of specific capital development projects, ten or more staff have often been assigned to summertime operations in recent years. As on the U.S. side, most of the seasonal workers have served just one or two summers along the trail. Those who have remained for five years or more have included Manfred Hedgecock, Christine Hedgecock, Debbie Verhalle, Candy Norris, and Danny Cresswell. All five have served for at least eight summers, and in 1996, Ms. Hedgecock marked her nineteenth year working along the trail corridor. [121]

Several changes have taken place along the trail since Parks Canada began to administer it. A primary change relates to access. During the mid-1970s, as noted in Chapter 3, a second trail was blazed between Bare Loon Lake and Bennett in order to minimize the number of hikers using the White Pass and Yukon Route right-of-way. As a result of the new trail, most hikers who headed for Bennett remained off the track. During the late summer of 1978, however, the opening of the new Klondike highway gave hikers who chose not to ride the railway the opportunity to exit the trail corridor by way of Log Cabin; these hikers used the older trail and the railroad right-of-way as their means of egress. The shutdown of the WP&YR, in October 1982, caused the large majority of hikers after that date to utilize this route. [122] The reopening of the railroad, in 1988, did not initially impact upon Chilkoot Trail operations. A year later, however, the railroad began running a Casey car [123] shuttle service for hikers on the 13-mile run between Fraser, B.C. (the terminus of tourist trips from Skagway) and the Bennett railway station. The shuttle remained in operation until 1993 when the WP&YR, for the first time since 1982, began to run regular trains from Skagway all the way to Bennett. These trains ran for only three years; as of 1996, the WP&YR no longer served Bennett with either a train or Casey car. [124]

Other changes along the Canadian side of the trail have been unrelated to access issues. Longtime Chilkoot supporter Bruce Harvey died in 1982, and in recognition of his many efforts over the years, officials gave the name Mount Harvey to the peak across Lindeman Lake from the Lindeman City camp. On August 30, 1984, NPS officials attended a ceremony dedicating the mountain in his honor. It was scheduled to be at Lindeman but, because of inclement weather, it was held on the S.S. Klondike in Whitehorse. [125]

Several improvements have been constructed on the trail over the years. In 1978, and again in 1983, buildings were erected at Stone Crib to complement the emergency shelter that had been built in 1976. All three buildings, however, lay in a potential avalanche path, and Parks Canada staff also identified other building needs along the trail. To respond to those needs, the agency in 1989 commenced a five-year, $750,000 capital development program. A patrol cabin of larger dimensions was erected that year just north of Chilkoot Summit (see Table 4). Two years later, a cabin for trail hikers was built adjacent to the patrol cabin, and that same year the last of the three Stone Crib cabins were disassembled and removed. A new shelter at Happy Camp Campground (erected in 1991), new tent frames at Lindeman Lake, new bridges, and trail improvements were all completed as part of the five-year effort. [126]

On November 5, 1985, after almost a decade of inaction, the process of creating a National Historic Site on the Canadian side of the Chilkoot was reactivated when British Columbia and Environment Canada-Parks finalized a land transfer agreement for a 52-square mile area that included the trail corridor and viewscape areas adjacent to it. The proposed site was roughly two-thirds the size that Chrétien and Radford had agreed upon in 1973. The new boundaries added several square miles of new territory southwest of Log Cabin, but it lost a much larger parcel west of Lindeman Creek, which was west of the trail corridor. [217]

By the following May, the parcel was still owned by the provincial government. Even so, Environment Canada-Parks began the planning process for the proposed Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park. The agency issued a newsletter outlining the planning process that month, and in July public hearings were held on the proposed park management plan in Whitehorse, Carcross, Atlin, and Vancouver. The agency also issued two questionnaires that summer: one to trail users, the other to all recipients of the May newsletter. By December the opinions expressed in the meetings and questionnaires had been collected and summarized, and in May 1987 the agency issued a draft plan offering three development alternatives. Another round of public meetings followed shortly thereafter. (A meeting was held in Skagway as well as in Carcross, Whitehorse, and Vancouver.) Participants' comments were once again ingested and analyzed, and in August 1988 the Canadian Parks Service completed its management plan. The agency issued a summary to all who had participated in the planning process. [128]

After the plan was completed, it was forwarded to the federal Minister of the Environment, whose role it was to decide whether the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Park would become a reality. Tom McMillan, who served in that portfolio under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, could not act on the plan until the complex land transfer process had been completed, and it was not until April 7, 1993 that the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site was formally established. [129] The new NHS had the same size and configuration as had been suggested during the 1986-88 planning process.

Once the new site was debated and passed by Parliament, the Canadian Parks Service continued to manage the trail, much as it had in the past. In 1993, the agency began a management plan review program; it, like the 1986-88 planning process which Environment Canada-Parks carried out for the proposed park unit, has involved several public meetings and plan iterations. That process was scheduled to be completed in 1995, but the latter-day demand that a Commemorative Interpretive Statement had to be compiled has delayed the plan for a year or more. [130]

With the establishment of the new Site, the possibility now exists that an international designation for the park unit may be declared in the not-too-distant future. As noted in Chapter 4, the dream of an international park has been alive since the late 1960s--particularly since the Labor Day hike of 1969. The Congressional bill that authorized the U.S. park had provided for that eventuality but there was no parallel designation of an international park in Canada. Since April 1993, the Canadian government has taken the necessary internal steps to authorize its Chilkoot Trail and other borderlands sites for international designation. Further Canadian legislation, however, may be necessary before international designation can go forward. It is hoped that Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park can become a reality, perhaps during the gold rush centennial period. [131]

Jay Cable, David Hites-Clabaugh

cache of canvas boats
(top) Each spring, the NPS contracts with a helicopter carrier to provide the Sheep Camp ranger station with fuel and other supplies. This photo, taken in 1979, shows Chief Ranger Jay Cable and Seasonal Ranger David Hites-Clabaugh prior to a flight. (bottom) When corrections crews roughed out the recreational trail in the early 1960s, they encountered a cache of canvas boats near the top of Chilkoot Pass. State authorities removed twelve of these boats in 1967; NPS rangers, in 1981, removed two others and refurbished them for interpretive purposes. (KLGO SC #1066 (top); Mark Bollinger photo, KLGO SC #1658 (bottom))

1984 depot dedication

wall tent
(top) This photo, taken at the 1984 depot dedication, shows (l-r) Roy Nelson, Bruce Hill,Jerry Watson, Pat Moore, and Barbara Minard (standing). Nelson, Hill, Watson, and Moore were longtime trail crew members, while Minard was an Skagway interpreter. (bottom) In 1993, several wall tents were erected along the Chilkoot Trail and at the Dyea Campground. Shown in this photo, taken at the Skagway maintenance facility, are carpenter Michael Yee, laborer Mike Catsi, and Maintenance Chief John Warder. (Jeff Brady Collection (top); John Warder Collection (bottom))

suspension bridge on Chilkoot Trail

long steel truss on Chilkoot Trail
(top) At Mile 11 of the Chilkoot Trail, periodic floods had destroyed several wooden bridges. To solve the problem, NPS personnel decided to erect a suspension bridge at the site. The photo was taken in 1982, the year the bridge was completed. (bottom) In 1991, the Chilkoot Trail maintenance crew completed a 90-foot long steel truss bridge at 1-1/2 mile, one of several major trail improvements. Bridge workers (l-r) included Roy Nelson, Jerry Watson, and Mike Beierly. (David Cohen photo, KLGO SC #2042 (top); John Warder Collection (bottom))


log bridge
(left) During the 1960s and 1970s, historical artifacts such as horseshoes were more numerous that they are today. (right) NPS crews have been maintaining the Chilkoot Trail since 1979. In 1982, one of the crew's largest tasks was the construction of a log bridge at 6-1/2 mile, between Finnegan's Point and Canyon City. (W. E. Garrett photo, in National Geographic Magazine, June 1965, 801 (left); David Cohen photo, KLGO SC #1931 (right))

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000