Lazy day at sea. After breakfast we went to The Klondyke Gold Rush talk, given by the cruise Location Guide. Fascinating story, vividly brought to life with maps and contemporary photographs and poems written by Robert Service who participated in the gold rush. Tales of incredible hardship; most people didn’t know what they were going to face and did not have the skills to deal with the conditions or the weather.
Gold was first discovered on 17th August 1896 and most claims were staked along the Bonanza Creek and El Dorado Creek within6 weeks. However, when the initial news got to Seattle and San Francisco, people left in their thousands. The ones who survived the journey took 2 years to get to Dawson only to find there were no claims left. Obviously some people became very rich including Donald Trumps’ grandfather but most people who made money ran the support industries supplying clothes, picks, shovels, sleights, food and hotels. 3000 horses died on White Pass and it became known as Dead Horse Pass with the smell travelling all the way to Skagway.
Two enterprising chaps planned and built the railway that we went on; an amazing feat of engineering, built in 26 months, with the plentiful labour provided by all the people who weren’t able to get a claim to pan for gold. Anyway, a very interesting talk and I now want to read the Jack London books – very familiar “White Fang”, “Call of the Wild” – but I can’t remember reading them, not sure they were my thing when I was young. But having been here, I now plan to have a go.
Right, final two shipboard activities over, apart from dinner tonight. Went to a cooking demo of Italian rustic fare and learned to make potato gnocchi and seafood pasta. Both looked and smelled delicious and would like to make them but probably won’t get around to it, no recipe cards were handed out and we weren’t really told amounts.
Then a glass of prosecco with a hot dog / burger for lunch before going to the watch a film about the fishing industry in Ketchikan. It was very interesting and we now know much more about fishing than we did before this trip. It sort of linked in to the stuff we learned about crab fishing in the Bering Sea yesterday – lot of the equipment seemed very similar. Not sure we’ll be able to eat farmed salmon again, we were told a few horrible things about it! But I don’t know if you can get sustainable wild salmon in England. Here they are very careful to preserve their stocks and ensuring there is enough supply for their children and grandchildren to fish is very important. For example we learned yesterday that the female king crabs are not allowed to be caught but are thrown back into the sea.
Back in the cabin now, starting to sort ourselves out and pack for luggage out by midnight and disembark at 08:45 tomorrow.