Yukon Sights by Sue Thomas

Beaver Creek and historical site Snag, Yukon

21 June 2008

We visited the Beaver Creek area for a couple of days. Beaver Creek is historical mile 1202, where construction crews made the final connection of the Alaska Highway on
28 October 1942.

South of Beaver Creek is Snag, an abandoned airfield from the Northwest Staging Route. Snag boasts the record low temperature for North America, set in February 1947: −81.4 F (-63C). The airfield closed in 1968 and the site was been remediated.

According to Wikipedia, in 1947 the village of Snag boasted a population of 8 to 10 natives and fur traders. An additional staff of 15-20 airport personnel — meteorologists, radio operators, aircraft maintenance men — lived at the airport barracks.
My dad, Jack Stalberg, worked in Snag in the early 1950s.

Beaver Creek area
Looking west from the Alaska Highway, headed for Snag

Snag Lake / Enger Lake
Snag Lake along the Alaska Highway

View from road into Snag, Yukon
View from Snag road, looking west towards Nutzotin Mountains - June 2008

The road was in much better condition in 1993 when we visited Snag with my dad. It was also Dad's last visit to the area. This year we were thankful to have a 4x4 truck!

There is not much left in Snag. I later learned that the federal government cleaned the site in the 1990s. The airfield is well overgrown and no longer usable. I think my last landing and takeoff there was in the early 1970s.

Old building at Snag, Yukon
The only remaining building from the Snag Airbase

A few miles past Snag is an historical White River First Nation village.
A few buildings remain, as well as a cemetery where I recognized many names.

Abandoned cabin at Snag, Yukon
Log cabin at the First Nations village

White River at Snag, Yukon
Near Snag Creek where it joins the White River

22 June 2008

We decided to drive towards the Alaska border, although did not plan to cross the border.

Alaska highway view
Looking west towards the Wrangell Mountains from the Alaska Highway north of Beaver Creek

View from Alaska Highway
Looking west from the Alaska Highway between Beaver Creek and the Alaska border

When I was young, we visited a fellow named Johnny Hoffman. His cabin was about 15 miles north of our place along the Alaska Highway. I always thought his cabin was a magical place as it had no power and no running water. He used kerosene lanterns and hauled his water by the bucket from the nearby creek. His cabin was cozy, even in the middle of winter. During one visit he let me try on his animal skin parka (don't remember what kind of animal) - wow, that coat was heavy!

After Mr. Hoffman died, another friend assumed ownership of his property. In recent years, the creek flooded and undermined the cabin, which now sits on blocks.

Hoffman cabin, Alaska Highway, Yukon
Johnny Hoffman cabin, just off the Alaska Highway near the Alaska border

Wild rose
Wild rose at Johnny's cabin

Beaver Creek was the end of the Alaska Highway for us this trip. We were here to spread my Dad's ashes on the longest day of the year and refresh my memories of growing up in this small community. Now it was time to continue exploring the Yukon.

We planned to visit Dawson City. Taking the Top of the World Highway via Alaska would have been the shorter option. However, our 19-year-old unvaccinated cat was with us and we decided to not attempt crossing the Alaska border without her papers in order.

Therefore we headed south again over a rough section of the Alaska Highway -- Beaver Creek to Destruction Bay.

Previous page - 20 June 2008
Next page - 23 June 2008