One of our cruise ship stops was the city of Juneau, Alaska. Like Vancouver, it was good to be back in Juneau. Ruth and I were determined to see what was new there and avoid what we had already seen on previous visits. Juneau is an odd United States capital city for several reasons.
The main reason why Juneau is an odd choice for Alaska’s capital is the fact that it is just about the only Alaska city like Sitka that is not connected to the outside world. Only 42 miles of highway are drivable from Juneau and no road leaves it and links it to another town. The closest city that does have a highway to Canada’s interior is Prince Rupert, which is 319 miles south of Juneau and connected to it only by ferry. Another fact that separates Juneau from other capital cities is that it’s the only US capital city that has a glacier within it. We have been on the Mendenhall Glacier previously during a long, previous visit and did not wish to repeat this experience. Ruth, unlike me, has toured this state capitol, a town with many steps to climb to see it. She did not want to tour it again even though it was one of my goals to experience this very different state capital. However, we were there on a Sunday when it was closed to visitors, so I had to content myself with the Juneau Museum across the street from it.
What I had forgotten about Juneau was its gold mines. Juneau, Alaska’s 3rd largest city, now 33,000 people and growing, was there and developing just before the Klondike Gold Rush happened. Gold was discovered near there in 1880. Its gold, however, was inferior to the Klondike gold discovery.
Douglas Island is across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau, and gold was found on it before Juneau became a prosperous town. Two burgs sprang up on Douglas Island before Juneau was founded. The town of Treadwell was about mining and Douglas, which was incorporated in 1902, might have developed into the major city of this area but didn’t. It could have been Alaska’s capital if things had happened differently. One time our son-in-law took us over to Douglas Island to watch salmon spawn. This was the only time we saw this truly Alaska phenomenon.
The main new attractions in Juneau since we were there is a tramway to the top of Mount Roberts behind it. We took it to the top with many other enthusiastic visitors and found it thrilling because a wedding was in progress up there and a bald eagle was also attracting attention. People love to explore Mount Roberts many trails from the top of this tram. Our son-in-law is one of them. He recommended we take this vista-showing tram up for its scenic views despite the snow on its many trails. He was correct to recommend this. The other new attractions since we have been there are a Waterfront Promenade and 2 new culture centers selling native crafts. The 2nd one is about to open and is seen below.