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Life on the Edge: Images of Carcross, Yukon
January - June

by Murray Lundberg

Life on the Edge: July - December

A Guide to Carcross

    This photo album present a virtual year of life in a small Yukon village (population 419 as of June 2004). It is located 45 miles south of Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, and 67 miles north of Skagway, Alaska. The images are presented in order by month, though they were actually taken over the period of 4 years, from 2002-2005.

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Carcross cabin by moonlight My cabin by moonlight - January 24, 2005, at 9:45 p.m.

The South Klondike Highway crosses the Nares River at Carcross. This view looks north - the mountains are collectively known as Gray Ridge. The red building to the left is the locomotive shed for the White Pass & Yukon Route, and what appears to be a snowy meadow on the right is frozen Grayling Bay, a very shallow body of water that provides great waterfowl viewing. This photo was taken from my driveway on February 1, 2003, at 2:07 p.m.

South Klondike Highway Mile 43.4 / Km 69.8 - a panoramic shot of Tutshi Lake, seen looking south from the large viewpoint. In any weather, this is a "must-stop". March 11, 2003. For much more, see the South Klondike Road Log.

Tutshi Lake panorama

I don't have running water in my cabin, but one of the advantages of getting my water from glacier-fed Lake Bennett is that I stay more connected with the world. If I just had to turn the tap on to get water for my morning coffee, I may well have missed this magical moment. March 19, 2003, at 08:02.

The footbridge across the Nares River disappears into a morning mist. The bridge was built in 1978 at the same location as a wagon bridge constructed to access a series of silver mines in 1905. Caribou Mountain is seen in the background. March 26, 2003 at 08:35.

In 2007, a new steel footbridge was built - a photojournal of that project can be seen at our Carcross footbridge page.

Aerial view of Carcross, Yukon This was shot back in my "film" days when data wasn't automatically recorded on the photo. All I can tell you about it is that it was shot in the late 1990s while flying back from Juneau on an Air North flight.

St. Saviour's Anglican Church was built in 1904 with funds raised in eastern Canada by Mrs. Charlotte Bompas, wife of the Yukon Bishop). It was moved to the north side of the river in 1917, following donation of the property to the church by the WP&YR. It was moved across the water on a scow and hauled up the BYN steamboat ways. This photo, taken on March 28, 2003 at 09:40, has Brute Peak as the background.

The classic view of Carcross, from the bridge that carries the South Klondike Highway over the Nares River. March 28, 2003.

This panorama shows the view from in front of the WP&YR station, with a wagon from the Overland Trail to Dawson, the little steam locomotive "Duchess" and the wreckage of the sternwheeler Tutshi. Behind are Fourth of July Mountain and Nares Mountain. March 28, 2003.

Each spring, the ice leaves early on a small area of Lake Bennett near its outlet, and Trumpeter and Tundra swans congregate there to rest, feed and socialize on their annual migration north. Though the numbers are not as large as at Marsh Lake, further down the Yukon River system, it is not unusual to see over 60 swans at a time, along with 100 or more ducks of several species. The photo to the left was taken from my sundeck on April 10, 2004, the one on the right made by simply holding the camera up to the eyepiece of my spotting scope. See The Spiritual Swan for more information.
Swans on Lake Bennett at Carcross Swans on Lake Bennett at Carcross

Another beautiful morning seen during a water-getting walk down to the lake on May 3, 2004. Mount Gray is one of the four mountains that dominate the views from Carcross.

Gulls on ice, seen during a canoe trip down the Nares River on May 3, 2004. This is about a mile downstream from the highway bridge, with Mount Gray in the background.

The wreckage of the sternwheeler Gleaner sits on the bank of the Nares River, only visible at extreme low water. It was scuttled here in the late 1930s, probably to act as a wingdam to channel the water through the lake for the Tutshi, which ran until 1955. This photo was shot on May 4, 2003.

Mount Gray reflected in one of the ever-expanding pools of water on Lake Bennett on May 5, 2004.

The Vance / McMurphy House was built in 1909 by Herman Vance, manager of the Venus Mine and later the Big Thing Mine. Starting about 1919, 3 generations of the McMurphy family lived in the home. Here, on May 10, 2003, locals watch it being torn down.

The crews and locomotives sent out to clear the White Pass & Yukon Route railway line in the spring encounter some impressive drifts down Lake Bennett. Here, one of the GEs returns to Carcross on May 11, 2004. For more information about the WP&YR, see RailsNorth.com.

The historic Matthew Watson General Store has been in operation since 1910. This is the way it looked on May 12, 2004.

A pond created by beavers along the Tagish Road a couple of miles from Carcross creates a photogenic spot to view Fourth of July Mountain. May 15, 2004.

Snow geese appreciate the meadows created when the level of Nares Lake drops over the winter. This flock seen on May 16, 2004, numbered almost 200.

Barefoot in the Spring Yukon mud After a long winter, the fine glacial silt that settles in Nares Lake provides for wonderfully sensual bare-footin'! May 16, 2004.

A panorama shot from the Caribou Mountain Trail near Carcross As spring warmth melts the snow on the south slopes, hiking trails start to open up. This panorama of the Watson Valley and Lake Bennett was taken on May 18, 2003, from the main trail up Caribou Mountain, just south of Spirit Lake.

The Watson River, seen here at extreme low water on May 20, 2003, provides much of the fine glacial silt that creates the superb beach at Carcross and what is known as the Carcross Desert.

A group of American visitors hikes what is now called the Mountain Hero Trail, built along an aerial tramway up the slopes of Montana Mountain in 1905. June 2, 2004.

Summer at last! Lake Bennett has innumerable sand fine-gravel beaches to wander on - this one is about two miles south of the village. Even this close to town, it's rare to meet anyone else along the lake. June 4, 2003 at 3:45.

Though the sheltered bays of Lake Bennett often have great beaches, much of the shore is rocky. As seen by this shot taken on June 4, 2003 at 4:20, the photography is always good.

Yukon film-maker Cal Waddington records the arrival of the WP&YR's magnificent Baldwin steamer, #73, on June 5, 2003.

The view south from the bluff above Mile 63 on the WP&YR line along Lake Bennett. The glacier-studded peaks guarding the lake's West Arm are seen in the distance. When this photo was shot on June 8, 2003, the water level had risen only slightly from it's spring low. Hidden in the trees on the point (where my canoe can barely be seen) is a power plant built in 1910 for the Conrad Mines.

Continue to Life on the Edge: July - December