American fables dot the cultural landscape like glimpses of gold in a riverbed. Like gold, finding them out and about in the real world depends entirely on where you look. Not surprisingly, Alaska proves to be a land rich with fable, relics of the country’s roots unblemished and unencumbered. For the amateur historian, or the family eager to provide a history lesson far more engaging than a chapter in a textbook, here are some of the can’t-miss American fable discoveries in The Last Frontier.
The American lumberjack is as quintessential to understanding both the nation’s history and identity as are the cowboy, the locomotive and the Civil War. Nowhere provides as thrilling an experience for immersing yourself in logging heritage as The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan. Witness modern-day lumberjacks compete in tests of skill and strength as they climb up and down trees, fling axes and run atop (spinning) floating logs. It may be a pinch flashier and more entertaining than the logging industry has been historically, but that’s partly the point of fables—to entice the imagination.
The California Gold Rush is a chapter of American history that seems almost proverbial. Lesser known, but equally critical to the country’s history, is the Klondike Gold Rush. Gold was first discovered in the Yukon in August 1896, and within three years over 100,000 prospectors had pilgrimaged far north through perilous weather and imposing mountain ranges for the increasingly small chance to strike it rich. Remnants of the rush of foolhardy prospectors are near-perfectly preserved throughout much of Alaska today, especially so in Juneau. Here, the Alaska Gastineau Mill stands as a modern ruin weathered by time—but the gold mines that twist and turn underneath may as well be fully operational. Tour guides will demonstrate mining techniques as well as enlighten you to what the mining lifestyle entails before providing yourself the opportunity to pan for gold and garnets yourself. The thrill that hangs in the air as you hope to strike gold yourself sheds new light onto the gold rushes over a century ago.
As critical as American fables are to understanding the collective culture today, it would be a grave offense to not recognize those that were here prior to the nation, states or colonies. Native Americans called all of North America home well before the likes of cowboys, lumberjacks or gold miners, though they have not had the opportunity to provide their representation in popular culture until recently. The Saxman Native Village is a genuine opportunity to discover the rich living culture of Alaska’s Tlingits, preserved through the centuries. Walk amongst towering totem poles in the Saxman Totem Park, watching the craftsmen of today pass on the art to their apprentices. Witness traditional song and dance at the Beaver Clan House before being invited to partake yourself. The stories and tales shared here are American fables as well—just lesser known. Paired with the ones above, they provide a sharper understanding of the reality of the past and an idea of the truth that spurred the fables.
Eager to discover the lumberjack show and other American fables found within Alaska? Contact one of our travel agents first. Not only can they remove all the stress you may find in attempting to book travel to the Last Frontier, but also their industry relationships can provide you with exclusive perks and amenities. Sailing on Holland America line cruise may seem like a dream vacation as is, but enjoying the above excursions with onboard credit makes the dream even sweeter.