Thursday, November 20, 2014

FGSCruise2015: Destination Juneau

The FGS Alaskan cruise sets sail on August 28, 2015, departing from Seattle, and will reach Juneau, Alaska at noon on August 30.

Juneau is often described as America's most unusual state capital.  It is the only center of U.S. government with no roads leading into or out of town. The city, which was founded during a gold rush in 1880, is completely surrounded by nature.

Juneau Alaska

In 1880, Tlingit chief Kowee led prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris up Gold Creek, which runs through present-day downtown Juneau.  Once at Silver Bow Basin, gold nuggets were found, and the gold rush began.

After the gold nuggets were exhausted from the streambeds by individuals working with hand tools, industrial underground mining began.  After the high-grade ore was exhausted, stamp mills were built to extract gold.  The crushed rock tailings were dumped along the shore, creating the flat land where Juneau was built.  These old mines are now closed, although 21st century mining operations continue north of Juneau in a manner that has minimal visual or environmental impact.

The gold made Juneau the economic capital of Alaska, so the state capital was also moved there from Sitka in 1906.  The stamp mills of the Alaska-Juneau mine are still visible above the cruise ship docks.

Wings Juneau

Today, the former gold-mining town counts among its riches some of Alaska's most spectacular scenery. Nestled at the foot of Mt. Juneau in the Alaska Panhandle, it faces the water from the mainland side of Gastineau Channel.

Several magnificent fjords are located along the channel coast, and the majestic Mendenhall Glacier, a favorite of visitors, is nearby.  A vast ice field to the north of Juneau is larger than Rhode Island, making the Juneau winters colder than other nearby cities in Alaska.

The Mt. Roberts Tramway operates from near the cruise ship docks and offers scenic views of the surrounding area.  North Franklin Street that passes the docks is the main shopping district.  Juneau offers a peaceful pace of life out of the downtown commercial district.

Tram over Juneau

Some of the nearby excursions include the Mendenhall Glacier, whale watching, salmon hatchery tours, zip-lines, dog sled adventures, the Last Chance Mining Museum, and working fisheries and ice houses along the docks.

Frozen Lake of Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier

Don’t miss out on seeing these unique sights!  The cruise will also offer a full genealogy conference during sea days that does not encroach on cruise-goers time to enjoy mainland excursions.  Register for the cruise at

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