Skagway is known as the “Gateway to the Klondike,” but long before the gold seekers, Skagway was home to the Native Alaska Tlingit settlement, whose art and culture was seen throughout the area. From totem poles and blankets to canoes, utensils and even clothing, everything was uniquely decorated.
Over the past century, the arts scene has grown with jewelry makers, furniture makers, publishers, photographers, writers, etchers, designers and engravers from America and Europe.
Here are our five favorite local items, artisans and shops in Skagway:
The community created a “Made in Skagway” program that is dedicated to promoting the arts and crafts in and near Skagway and to give visibility to the talented individuals and shops that have made Skagway a successful artistic community for generations. Look for handmade eco-friendly beeswax and soy candles with essential oil fragrances at White Pass and Yukon Route gift shop and the Red Onion Saloon. Or even pick up one of the handmade hats by Bua Williams, a woman who grew up in Thailand and now lives in Skagway crocheting hats, at Alaska Artworks. Various artists are part of the “Made in Skagway” program, and you can get a full list of them by checking out its website at skagwaydevelopment.org/made-in-skagway/.
That’s no misspelling, but rather the name of the Broadway Street bookstore, news depot and publishing company (“Skaguay” being the way that “Skagway” was spelled decades ago). Here, you’ll find many local and regional newspapers and book titles that you aren’t going to find in your own hometown bookstore: from Alaska-Yukon titles to children’s books, contemporary literature, best-sellers, maps, journals, tote/book bags, photo art cards and more. And being that Skagway is typically a first port of call for Alaska cruises, it’s a great spot to find a book for your journey or to learn more about a place you’re visiting or sailing through in the upcoming days.
The works of the two-for-one artistic duo of Tina Cyr and Ralf Gorichanaz of Inspired Artworks can be found at Alaska Artworks in downtown Skagway (555 Broadway Street). A Skagway native, Cyr’s love of the outdoors and color can be found in her watercolor and acrylic paintings, printmaking and beaded jewelry. Gorichanaz, who has called Alaska home since 1985, carves fossil ivory into eclectic home and animal forms for his free-form sculptures and jewelry. In addition, he uses the “lost wax” method of casting where he applies the same ivory carving tools and skills to carve in wax to create his sterling silver designs.
Some of the state’s best smoked Alaskan salmon and halibut can be found in Skagway at Dejon Delights, a smokery and retail shop. Family owned and operated, the shop features various smoked Alaskan salmon options, other smoked local fish such as black cod and coho and Alaska specialties such as Salmonberry Jam, Reindeer sausage, fireweed honey and Alaskan Birch Syrup.
What's impressive about their smoked fish is their meticulous attention to detail during the process. They buy all of their fish from local fishermen and then hand-filet each fish. Then they smoke the fish with birch shavings they get from local wood turners in Alaska. Now that's what local smoked fish is all about.
This shopping street goes on for several blocks, and you’ll certainly find a little bit of everything, including jewelry, outdoor clothing, ice cream parlors, books and a whole range of locally made gifts. Keep your eyes out for the Skagway Bazaar at Sixth and Broadway. It’s one building comprised of several little shops, including a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, the BBQ Shack, a sweets shop selling cookies that are freshly baked every 20 minutes and a few different jewelers.