Visitor Center and Museum AD Tour

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park


Tour Description The visitor center and museum occupy the former White Pass and Yukon Route train depot built at the height of the gold rush in 1898 and administration building built in 1900. They are physically connected in the back forming a combined c-shaped structure with a small entry breezeway creating the separation. The finishes and materials have been restored including honey-stained narrow plank wood floors, period wallpaper, and chain-hung half-dome chandeliers.

This tour includes two main spaces totaling 4,000 square feet. The visitor center includes a theater, a map orientation room, and a ranger desk area with a junior ranger discovery corner. The museum exhibit area includes interactive displays, models, objects, and graphic panels.

Map Room - size 28 by 23 feet In the center of the room is a large touchable topographic map. On the surrounding walls are large scale regional and national maps. Small bronze models of other national park service buildings are mounted on a small table next to support pillar. Chest-high wainscoting and wide horizontal plank paneling make up the interior walls. The entire space including the ceiling is painted white.

Theater - size 28 by 23 feet Located at the back of the map room are two entry ways into the theater. Walnut stained wainscoting cover the walls. The floor is flat and carpeted. Large framed historic black and white photos are mounted on the walls above the wainscoting. The park film, Gold Fever: Race to the Klondike, is shown on a ten-foot wide screen.

Ranger Desk Room - size 14 by 14 feet On the other end of the map room, down an 18-foot long hallway, is a large open room with an L-shaped ranger desk. In the corner of the room to your left as you exit the hallway is a Junior Ranger discovery area with a full-scale kid-figure cut out models with a historic street scene backdrop designed for taking photos of your family members taking the place of one of the kid’s faces. In the opposite corner is a 12 foot by 12 foot room that was the original train ticket booth. Large fabric back-lit banners hang in the space today depicting historical railroad photos. To the right of the ticket booth is a small cast iron coal stove. All the trim and wainscoting in this area is painted mint green. A faint monotone tan wallpaper with a floral pattern covers the walls to the ceiling. Continuing passed the wood stove on the right is another hallway leading to the restrooms, the breezeway, and exit to the museum.

Breezeway - size 40 by 13 feet A wooden boardwalk separates the museum space from the visitor center. Walking to the left down the breezeway exits to 2nd street and passed four self-standing flat exhibit panels welcoming you to the site.

Museum Room 1 - size 31 by 19 feet Immediately to your right, after entering the museum from the breezeway, is a 14 foot by 8 foot original bank vault with replica items from the gold rush era including gold bars and scales. Directly ahead are stairs to the park offices. To the left is the entrance to main exhibit area. The room has a 12-foot ceiling painted an off white, and includes dark stained wood wainscoting, tan painted walls, three windows, and an exit door. The room is divided into three exhibit areas by 8 foot tall curved display wall in the center of the room. The walls form a T. You are standing looking at the top of the T. On the curved wall displayed on the T is a large introductory panel on the epic journey to the gold fields with historic photos, and on your right a reader rail panel and a small representative model of the Klondike river with replica gold pan and gold nuggets. This area covers the Gold Discovery story. Passed the reader rail is an artifact display case with a shotgun, gold pan, and original hand written note.

Turning to your left along the right side of the room are large graphic panels with title: Building Your Boat. On the left, toward the center of the room, is a replica wooden boat with seating and a TV monitor that shows original footage of stampeders rafting down the Klondike River. A small tactile map of the Klondike River is mounted to the wall. Past the boat toward the front of the room is new exhibit area entitled, At the Gold Fields, with an artifact display case with gold extracting tools including a gold pan, small pick-axe, candle holder, scale, and small wooden box. On the back wall are two additional large graphic panels with historic photos and a reader rail with additional historic photos. Behind the reader rail is a vertical 4-foot diameter wheel that you can spin to see your fate at the gold fields, most are unlucky.

Turning back toward the museum entrance, on the opposite side of the curved display wall is a large painted mural. In front of the mural sitting on reader rail is a flip book containing modern Gold Rush collectibles. This area is entitled, An Epic Journey Lives On. Also on the reader rail is a music box and small TV monitor showing a silent Charlie Chaplin film. Additional vertical graphic panels are mounted on the exterior wall between two windows and cover how the gold rush changed Alaska forever. As you make your way to the back to the museum entrance, you pass a large TV monitor showing historic landscape photos next to the modern day images of the same location. Past that on your right is visitor comment station.

Museum Room 2 - size 31 by 19 feet Room two is a replica of room one and is entered by walking through room one. This room is divided by an 8-foot curved display wall. The wall divides the room into two main exhibit areas. As you enter the room, on your immediate left is an artifact display case with replica trail supplies including snowshoes, coffee grinder, lantern, whiskey bottle, and a tobacco can. Passed the display case, further along the wall are exhibit panels, a flip book with historic photos, and wooden packing crates, a barrel and burlap sack. This area highlights two towns Dyea and Skagway, supply towns at the start of each of the two trails to the gold fields. Mounted on the wall above the exhibit panels is an historic wooden sign advertising native trading and packing services. Behind you on the display wall in the middle of the room is a large map showing two main routes to the Klondike from Seattle, Washington. A tactile version of the map is mounted on a reader rail. The rail also includes a flip book with historic photos and a pull-out drawer with historic photos. On either side of the large wall map are additional graphic panels with a title Beautiful but dangerous and Racing Time and Each Other. Making your way around the display wall to the other side of the room you encounter the Choose your trail exhibit with a map of the two historic routes and an angled reader rail with a tactile graphic showing elevation gains.

Past this exhibit in the corner of the room is a display entitled Prepare for the Worst which highlights the ton of goods required to embark on either the Chilkoot or White Pass trails. Below the graphic panel, sits two jars on replica wooden crates one emitting the smell of sourdough bread and the other hooligan oil.

Continuing on the back side of the dividing wall, the exhibit displays are divided into left and right sides. On the left side, exhibits cover the shorter but steeper Chilkoot Trail and on the right, on the curved dividing wall, are exhibits covering the dangerous lower but longer White Pass Trail. Each side finishes at the other end of the room and includes long reader rails with exhibit panels, tactile models, and flip cards. Following down the Chilkoot side, are tactile models of trail food including canned beans, dried meat and bread, contrasted with the native diet of dried fish and berries. A real coffee pot, grinder, and gold pans spill out of burlap sack that sit behind a reader rail. Historic photos from the trail are displayed on the large panels. Toward the end of the Chilkoot display, a life size scene of two male mannequin stampeders hiking up very steep ice stairs. The scene rises to the top of the 12-foot ceiling recreating a steep snow covered trail with white painted fiberglass to simulate the snow on a steep embankment. The stampeders are carrying wooden crates on their backs. A scaled tactile model of the entire scene sits on reader rail directly in front. A 12 foot tall (3.7 meter) ruler rises up the wall displaying the height of an avalanche that once buried stampeders alive. A stereoscope viewer showing two winter photos at the Chilkoot Pass sits on a reader rail. Also on the rail, a push button audio station that invites you to guess a variety of sounds.

Going back to the White Pass side, a 3 foot high cast model of the thick mud and debris encountered on the trail sits behind reader rails. You are invited to put your foot in a special opening that simulates how far you would sink into the mud. Exhibit panels show historic photos of all the transportation methods used on the trail including horses, dogs, and later a train. A tactile model of train climbing around a mountain peak sits on a reader rail. At the end of the White Pass exhibit, a real horse skull is displayed in an acrylic case.

Turning the corner around the display wall, you are directed back into room one.


Guided, audio-described tour through the park's visitor center and museum.


8 minutes, 56 seconds


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