Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Tok to Chicken
We were reunited with John and Rosie and Jay and Naomi in Tok as we had planned! Plus as a bonus, friends Pete and Ellen were staying at the same campground. Everyone but Pete and Ellen had planned on driving to Chicken for the day. Since J&R and J&N were returning to Tok and continuing on south from there, they piled into the trusty white Honda. We had decided to take the RV to Chicken and then take the “Top of the World” highway through Dawson City and then down to Whitehorse. (If this is really confusing – check out the map I have posted on the “where are you know” page. That might help!), we lumbered on behind them.
The road to Chicken traveled through mile after mile of charred forest, the result of the huge (over 1 million acres) Taylor Complex Fire in 2004. (Alaska lost 6.6 million acres to wildfires in 2004!)
But even in the charred remains of so many acres, God had already given thought to its rebirth. One of the first plants to take hold after a forest fire is the beautiful Fireweed. From being interspersed with the blackened trees
to seeing it blanket the hillside
it speaks of God’s goodness.
But on to Chicken. Now Chicken, Alaska, is a pretty interesting little town. Even the name comes with a funny story. Apparently the miners wanted to name their community after the ptarmigan, but no one could figure out how to spell it. But they did know how to spell chicken, so Chicken it was. And when I say it’s a little town I mean really little. First of all, there are no public utilities. No electric except that which is made by generators. No public water or sewer. The entire town consists of three business, all pretty much claiming to be “downtown” Chicken. Summer population – 21. Winter population – 6.
There’s “The Town of Chicken”
This consists of a gift shop, an RV park (just electric hook-ups), a small gas station, 24 hour electric (apparently a big deal), and (free) flush toilets. They also offer tours of “Historic Old Town Chicken”, including the schoolhouse written about in the book Tisha.
There’s “Downtown Chicken”
This consists of a gift shop, a café, a “saloon”, and a gas pump.
And finally there’s Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost
Gift Shop, Café, RV park (but they turn the electric off during the night) and they give tours of the Pedro Dredge.
This is the Pedro Dredge.
Oh, and they all offer opportunities to pan for gold.
There is also an airport (which among other things takes out and brings in the mail twice a week) and located just up the hill is a cute little US Post Office.
Since the Post Office is the only business open 12 months, I think that’s really the center of town, but don’t tell the guys at the three gift shops!
I guess there must be some homesteaders around somewhere, but none that we’ve seen. Most people that stop here are on their way over the Klondike Highway (like us), but some do just come for the day to see what there is to see. And I think some of the folks here are honestly trying to find some gold. Go for it!
Here are a couple of other shots from “around town” –
(Those are the buckets from the dredge.)
Day 5 – 78.3 miles – Saying farewell to our dear traveling companions.
It has been such a joy to share this adventure with them, and although we won’t be going down the road together as we head back to the Lower 48, I know we’ll meet up again soon. Here, there, or in the air!