In Watson Lake (considered the gateway to the Yukon) they feature a Space and Science Centre devoted to the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Canada’s Space Program.
But the most popular place in town is the Sign Post Forest. The forest was started in 1942 by American ALCAN Highway builders (soldiers) pointing out where they came from and how far they were from home. Rumour has it that now there are over 75,000 signs and travelers are encouraged to contribute their own personal sign posts to the forest.
Oh, did I tell you it was raining?
So our stay in Watson Lake was brief.
The next day we moved on searching for the sun.
We didn’t find the sun but we did find a small interesting community at Mile 804 (Km 1244) ofthe Alaska Highway on the shore of the Teslin Lake. With seven trusses, the Nisutlin Bay Bridge takes you to Teslin and is the longest (584 meters / 1917 feet) bridge on the Alaska Highway.
Teslin has one of the largest Native populations in Yukon Territory and First Nations people, the Tlingit, called it Teslintoo, meaning “long narrow water”.
We knew absolutely nothing about the Tlingit People and were surprise to see how similar their cultural is to what we know as the Haida People. It seems that the Tlingit are descents of the Coastal First Nations. A conversation with one of the staff revealed that the Tlingit traveled inland from the coast 200-300 years ago. Many of the Tlingit People retain the hunting and fishing traditions of their people and the intricate masks, needle work and totem pole attest to the many accomplished artists.
Still plagued by rain, mud and road delays we slogged on towards Whitehorse. A stop at Rancheria proved to be most memorable. It is as small compound complete with gas pumps, motel and a few RV sites, all managed out of the restaurant. Apparently, there were all kinds of trucks and vehicles stranded here during the road closures the week before. This was the spot where one of the food trucks going up to Whitehorse opened up the trailer of food to help feed the folks who were stuck there.
As we pulled up to get gas, we noticed a sign on the pump. It said to write down how much gas we pump and take that into the restaurant to pay – and so we did.
But this is also the place I left my credit card in the machine and didn’t realize it until we got to Whitehorse.