The Alaska Highway Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska (historical routes, heritage sites, sightseeing, driving tour) Pioneer Road - Contract Road - Public Road
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
Historical Mile 905. Junction with South Klondike Highway to Skagway, AK
The Klondike Highway is a highway that links the Alaskan coastal town of Skagway to Yukon's Dawson City. Its route somewhat parallels the route used by prospectors in the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush.
In Yukon, the Klondike Highway is marked as Yukon Highway 2. In Alaska, the Highway is marked as Alaska Route 98 (as in "route of 1898"). Until 1978, the unopened section between the BC border and Carcross had no official highway number, while the section north of Carcross to the Alaska Highway was Highway 5, and the section from Stewart Crossing to Dawson was Highway 3. The BC section is now maintained by the Yukon government as a natural extension of Highway 2.
The original 53 km (33 mi) section known locally as the Carcross Road was actually made into a part of the Alaska Highway in 1942, until the Marsh Lake route was opened the next year. As Yukon Highway 5, it formed a loop road with Highway 6, the Tagish Road (now numbered as 8). It was renumbered as Highway 2 in 1978, being incorporated into the Klondike Highway designation. The road underwent alignment improvements during the 1980s. Residents living as far south as 25 km (16 miles) from the Alaska Highway still give their residential addresses as historic mile measurements that start at zero at the Alaska Highway, even though the distances are no longer accurate, and kilometre posts count distance from Skagway's ferry terminal.
Construction of the "Carcross-Skagway Road" began in the 1950s, was abandoned partway up a mountain from Skagway, resumed in 1976-1977 and was completed between Skagway and Carcross in August 1978. It was only open for a few weeks before seasonal closure. The first full summer season of use was in 1979.
The highway originally was built for tourist traffic, but in 1986 became important as a commercial transportation route, coincident with what seemed to be inevitable abandonment of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway (WP&YR). The new owners of the Faro mine secured government agreement to open the highway for trucking. The last winter closure ended in the spring of 1986.