National Park Service

State of the Park Reports

State of the Park Report for
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Resource Brief – Historic preservation on the first YMCA of Alaska

 Park maintenance staff has been stabilizing and building preparation.
Park maintenance staff has been stabilizing and building preparation.

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) came to Alaska along with the Klondike stampeders. William Reid, sent by the YMCA from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to found a branch in Dawson, Yukon Territory, Canada, was traveling through Skagway in 1898. Reid's experience is described in the YMCA 1901 Yearbook:

"On reaching Skagway, the journey on to Dawson seemed inexpedient, and the need for such work at Skagway seemed to be so imperative, that he remained at that point where he set up a tent to be used as association headquarters."

The YMCA moved their reading room from the tent into the Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue in 1899. When the YMCA staged a membership drive in early 1900, they recruited nearly 1,000 members, which is quite remarkable considering the total population of the town was 3,117 residents according to the 1900 U.S Census. This success created a desire to expand the YMCA to include a gymnasium, furthering the goal of training "muscular Christians."

In 2008, the Rasmuson Foundation acquired the building as part of the George and Edna Rapuzzi Historic Gold Rush collection grant request, and donated the building, along with several other structures and an extensive collection of artifacts, to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the Municipality of Skagway. Park maintenance staff has been working to stabilize the building and prepare it for its future as a visitor destination.

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Last Updated: June 19, 2017 Contact Webmaster