August 9, 2018
There are no roads to Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, so we took the Fjord Express ferry the 83 miles along the Lynn Canal. We stopped at nearby Haines to pick up other passengers. The boat’s 15 sea miles would have required 355 miles by road.
We were happy with our decision. The 65-foot, 48-passenger catamaran was comfortable, and we were treated to a continental breakfast on the way to Juneau and a light supper on the way home.
Juneau has rain 230 days of the year. We visited on one of the 230 rainy days: The rain never stopped till we were on the ride back to Skagway. Here are two rainy photos and a video taken on the way to Juneau.
Juneau is the largest capital city in the United States by area: It is 3,255 square miles (of which 2,000 square miles are ice field or water). Its population was 32,739 in 2016. Historically its economy was supported by gold, fishing, and transportation industries. Today government and tourism form Juneau’s economic base.
Alaska State Capitol
We started with the Capitol, built in 1931 as Territorial Capitol and federal building. Jane in her yellow slicker is dwarfed by the building’s columns.
The building is interestingly-sited on an angle.
A display inside gave us a perspective of just how large Alaska is, compared with the lower 48.
We appreciated the map of Alaska cut from a piece of the 48-inch pipe used in the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The weld represents the pipeline itself.
We admired door handles and brass plates throughout the Capitol.
We weren’t invited in to see the governor but we liked the cabinet room’s carved doors depicting Alaska resources.
The Senate and House Chambers were dignified, but their low ceilings made them seem small.
One senator found a way to keep things sweet.
Here is a view of the House of Representatives. (We worry about Representative Claman’s allergies.)
The Speaker’s Chambers are pictured below.
The House Finance Committee Room was originally a law library.
The Senate Finance Committee Room was a courtroom.
In the committee room is the seal of Alaska made of gold nuggets.
Judge James Wickersham’s House
Chicken Ridge is several steep blocks above the harbor in Juneau. Here are some of the steps we took to get to Judge Wickersham’s house.
We were introduced to Judge Wickersham when we saw a house in which he had lived in Pioneer Park in Fairbanks. Wickersham was one of the first of three judges bringing order to the Alaska territory. He was an early advocate for Alaskan statehood and served as Alaska’s delegate to Congress. His house in Juneau is located in an area called Chicken Ridge because of its ptarmigan population. We wonder how we didn’t get a picture of the exterior but it was raining pretty hard.
We made sure our route took us by two other sites: St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and the Empty Chair Memorial.
The cross for the St. Nicholas church was raised in September 1893 and the church was consecrated in 1894. The dome and belfry were added in 1895.
The Church wasn’t open but we used this mail slot to see inside and get a photo.
The Empty Chair Memorial was erected to recognize Juneau’s Japanese and Japanese-American residents who were forcefully removed and isolated in internment camps during World War II.
Returning to Skagway
The rain stopped as we returned to Skagway, giving us wonderful views of sky, land, and water.
We passed two lighthouses.
We also had views of wildlife. The humpbacks didn’t cooperate for photographs, but the sea lions and seals were great subjects.
Haines was more picturesque in the late afternoon light than it had been in morning’s rain.
Although our time in Skagway was shorter than we had planned, we filled it with wonderful experiences, including this 12-hour adventure to Juneau.