Thursday, June 11, 2009

6/11/2009 We Take A Self Guided Auto Tour

We took off this morning around eleven headed for Glacier Highway and ultimately Salmon Glacier.

The tour guide brochure we have, given to us by the campground we're in, starts us out in none other than Stewart and finishes up 22 miles later at the Summit Viewpoint. We've already shown you the street in Stewart.

The second stop was The Storehouse, Eagle Point. In 1896 the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was dispatched to check out the Portland Canal area and to build four storehouses. The group built the storehouses as instructed with the fourth one being built at Eagle Point, at the border between the U. S. and Canada. In 1903 the boundary was permanently set resulting in two of the storehouses being on Canadian soil.


To the left of the building in the picture above you can see the monument representing the U.S. - Canadian border.

IMG_9756 IMG_9757

The small buildings were well built and meant to be comfortable quarters for small work parties. Inside each storehouse cement, rope, tools and kitchen utensils were kept.

We must have been a kinder, gentler nation back then. We let each foreign entity know that these were United States owned storehouses by the cornerstone placed on each building. Instead of threatening sanctions or all out war in case of destruction, we just put these words on the buildings.


Next stop on the tour (#3) was to be Hyder, uh, been there, done that, no need to re-hash Hyder.

Stop four brought us to the Tongass National Forest Boundary. Do I have a picture of this sign? No. Did Bob ask me if I wanted him to stop so I could get one? Yes. You are going to have to use your imagination here. Picture a sign, good size, 4 x 5' color it brown, put the words Tongass National Forest on it. Got that in your minds eye? Ok, good, that's the picture I didn't take. Ah, but I can tell you about this forest. Its big. Its huge. Its humongous! This forest covers 16.7 million acres and has approximately 11,000 miles of coastline. Picture the states of Maryland, New Hampshire and Vermont all grouped together, that's how big this forest is. It received its name from the Tantakwan clan of the Tlingit Indians that lived in what we now know as Southeast Alaska. In 1907 this land of glaciers, mountains, waterways and thousands of islands was placed in National Forest status.

Stop 5. Moose Pond, was named for the fraternal organization, Loyal Order of Moose, so don't get your hopes up on seeing moose here.


However, bears do frequent the area as do geese, ducks, frogs, squirrels and bald eagles. We did see a little beaver in the pond. You can see the little fella in the center of the picture. Wildlife just abounds!


Stop six brought us to the Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area. What a great idea this was! It is in the creek that runs along side of this walkway that the grizzlies and black bears come to feed on the salmon which come here to spawn.


The Hyder community members built this safe walkway for visitors and townspeople alike to watch the bears feeding. Of course we didn't see any bears feeding here today, the fish don't come in until next month through September. We did talk with one couple who had seen a bear on the road on the way in. In fact, they had passed us and were surprised to hear we didn't see it. We probably would have but we had to stop for about 7 - 8 minutes to try to find out what was making the screeching sound in the truck. We had slowed way down in driving because of kicking dust up and evidently picked up a rock between the dually wheels and it was positioned so that it made a very loud screeching sound, kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard magnified a thousand times. Ooh, I just gave myself goose bumps just by typing that! We stopped, got out and looked, couldn't find anything, got back in and pulled forward and stopped immediately because THE SOUND was still there. We thought, Oh great, here we are with no cell phone coverage, no idea as to what is wrong with the truck, we don't know a soul, passerbys were few and far between and we're now six miles in on a dirt road. Bob decided to back up just a bit in case something was caught in the tires and thankfully that was the problem. The offending rock dislodged itself and all was quiet again. But we missed a bear!


This must be quite the attraction because the parking area was quite large as is the walkway itself. The walkway could easily, comfortably fit 100 people (or more) including their photography equipment. We walked the entire length of the walkway in both directions from the parking lot and walked away with a picture of a beaver, the viewing of several robins and two mosquito bites.

Had we stopped at #7 on the tour we would have been able to hike the Titan Trail. Its a five mile hike, in bear country. Uh-uh. Nuff said.

Stop # 8 brought us to the Riverside Mine. Or what is left of it that is. Discovered in 1915 by the Lindeborg Brothers it was later sold and became known at the Riverside Mine. A four thousand tunnel was dug and constructed in 1922 and the mill was built in 1925. The mine changed hands several times and was worked off and on until 1961. During some of those years this mine was the most productive property in Alaska for silver and copper.

The buildings which consisted of the mill itself, the dormitories for the workers, the dining hall and kitchen have either burned down, washed away in the floods and generally just deteriorated over the years. All that is left are these iron pieces.




What we think is the entrance to the mine.


Further up the road we came to Stop #9. It sure didn't look anything like the covered bridge shown in the brochure. Its called the Texas Creek Bridge. At one time it was the only covered bridge in all of Alaska. This bridge gave access to several mineral claims in the upper Texas Creek Area from when it was built in 1932 until 1965 when it was damaged under a heavy snow load. Finally, in 1978 the remains of the bridge collapsed. This is what's left.


Sad isn't it?

There were five more stops on this self guided auto tour but we didn't get to see them. As we were on our way to # 10 the road got very narrow going around a curve and and there was NO guard rail and it looked like there was a recent small landslide. We just couldn't take the chance of one of those good sized rocks getting caught between the dually wheels.

We passed several good sized waterfalls on this road. Not that they were so much big in height but that the rushing was great.




LaVon, Bob picked this tree out,,,,just for you.


Snow was still very evident in this area.


Those of you who personally know us, know that Bob takes very good care of our truck and rig. They are always clean and well maintained. THIS is killing him!




There's no point in washing it, we're still running these local roads and they aren't paved. I do know that he can't wait to wash it though!

Another day in Stewart - Hyder.

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