Silicon Valley Circa 1956 – A Valley That is No More

What was it like in Silicon Valley in 1956?

Back then, the Valley lay in the shadow of San Francisco. If you wanted culture, glamor, or riches, you headed to the City. If you wanted farm life, you headed to San Jose. I exaggerate, but not by much. Hard as it is to imagine today, the Valley then was still tied closely to the soil. People knew how to grow things. Things like fruit. Not just as a hobby but as way of life. Above all, they knew how to can and pack that fruit. Not as home preserves but on a large, industrial scale. Before WWII, San Jose had fewer than 100,000 people. Yet no fewer than 18 canneries and 13 packing houses could be found in the Valley. This was then the largest canning and dried fruit packing center in the world. By 1956, this farm-based culture was still largely intact. Today, it is almost entirely gone.

Those of us who have been here awhile may have caught fragments of the old life. I remember doing a summer stint as a student at the Del Monte Cannery off Auzerais Avenue, circa 1970, in which my fingers turned prune-like as I stood there for endless hours throughout each shift “guiding” grapes to the center of a conveyor belt at its drop-off point by repeatedly reaching my arms out as if doing a butterfly stroke and pulling the grapes inward as my arms would pull together. Shifting to the “dry” side later that summer, my brother and I would do the graveyard shift standing at the bottom of a massive slide and scrambling like mad to stack pallets manually with some really heavy boxes whenever the automatic pallet-stacker at the top malfunctioned and some faceless person would switch the boxes to come zinging downward non-stop and with a great force — we felt like Lucy and Ethel trying frantically to handle all the chocolates as the sheer number and frequency of the boxes would overwhelm our ability to stack them. I can assure you that whatever talent we displayed that summer went entirely unrecognized.

But back to life in 1956. Cali Mill sat at the corner of De Anza and Stevens Creek Boulevard. Monte Bello Vineyards quietly grew its grapes in the Cupertino foothills, soon about to realize great harvests that would lead it to become Ridge Vineyards. Paul Masson was even then a Valley winery that would “sell no wine before its time,” as Orson Welles would later put it. Cupertino had just incorporated as a city in 1955, becoming the 13th city in the Valley (Sunnyvale had voted to incorporate in 1912). Cupertino High was about to form in 1958. De Anza College didn’t exist. Nor did El Camino Hospital. Both were about a decade or so off. Santa Clara’s law school was around, and it graduated exactly 13 students that year. Many at the time could remember just a couple of decades earlier when it took the equivalent of a short trip through the country to get from downtown San Jose to Willow Glen. Much of Mountain View remained agricultural not only as of 1956 but even throughout most of the 1960s — during this era, there was still open space between Mountain View and Palo Alto, with row crops and orchards filling in the gap. Moffett Field with its huge hangars filled the Valley with the noise of monster-sized military planes droning continuously as they took off and landed throughout the day.

Prosperity was afoot, however, wholly apart from the agricultural sector. Santa Clara Valley had a massive postwar population explosion and chaotic growth to accompany it. By the mid-1950s, San Jose was well on its way to having over 200,000 people, more than doubling its population within the decade. Electronics companies began to flourish, spurred on initially by WWII. Prominent among these was Hewlett Packard, which in 1956 did $20 million in revenues and employed 900 people while selling test and measurement equipment. By the following year, it would go public and double the number of its employees while doing something very unusual — it gave stock grants and options to all employees with at least six months of service, an almost unheard-of practice at the time.

Shopping malls sprang up as well, even as Woolworth’s and other five-and-ten-cent stores started to falter. In the summer of 1956, one of the first and most notable, Macy’s Valley Fair, opened as a 39-store retail center. Macy’s had wanted to open in downtown San Jose but got stiffed on price. It therefore bought several acres of land along San Jose’s unincorporated Stevens Creek Road and built the center there, amidst a wide open area consisting of orchards and an Emporium department store. When it opened, it had only one floor and a roof deck that was accessible to shoppers by elevator. Macy’s planned to add a second floor. So what did it do in the interim? It did what any good promoter of a new concept would do (and as many other centers of that day did) to attract shoppers — it set up a carnival! Yes, right on the roof deck of its shopping mall, it put not just one but seven carnival rides. It had a merry-go-round and a small train and even a 40-foot ferris wheel! It also had a cafe so that parents could relax and eat as their kids enjoyed the rides. It seems that fast-shuffle types were busy long before startups came along. If it sparkles, they will come!

While Cupertino lagged in seeing its first significant shopping center open, 17 of its largest landowners shortly thereafter sold out to Varian Associates, another thriving electronics firm, which (along with the Leonard, Lester, Craft and Orlando families) developed the center that took as its name an acronym composed of the first initials of each participant: Vallco Park. Vallco, however, did not open until the early 1960s. In 1956, the large tracts of land were entirely undeveloped except for agricultural purposes.

Meanwhile, we had the Dow at about 500. People made just under $5,000 per year on average and paid about $12,000 if they wanted to buy a brand new home. No sticker shock in those days for those moving in from the Midwest.

The Korean War had ended three years earlier and the McCarthy hearings a couple of years before. The shock of Sputnik was still a year away. The Cold War was in full sway, however, and was not helped by the crushing of the Hungarian uprising by Soviet tanks in 1956. Memorable among the oddities of the day were the atomic bomb drills by which school kids would attain assured safety from any nearby neutron blast by being taught to crawl under their desks (confirming that the leaders then were about like those we have today).

Eisenhower was President and Nixon Vice President, re-elected as a team for a second term. Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto, officially supplanting its unofficial predecessor, E Pluribus Unum. In one of the great ideological misfires of all time, Ike appointed William J. Brennan as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court at the time included not only Justice Brennan but also Earl Warren, Felix Frankfurter, John Harlan, Hugo Black, and William O. Douglas.

Drugs were clearly a problem in metropolitan areas but had not spread as yet to the larger society. In response, Congress held marathon hearings on the issue and passed the Narcotic Control Act of 1956. Prescription drugs and packaged food items, meanwhile, did not have safety caps or seals, and the Tylenol poisoner who brought that constant headache upon us had not yet begun to serve his just judgment of everlasting torture in the lowest of the lowest of the lowest regions of Hades specifically reserved for him, where (I hope) it is EXTRA, EXTRA HOT!

Smoking was cool, however, really cool; so too was drinking (remember the “highball”). Garbage was garbage and weather was weather, since Rachel Carson had not yet had her way. Wonder Bread made up for any nutritional deficit incurred through all that smoking and drinking, or at least that is the conclusion I would have come to as a 5-year old boy at the time had I thought about it (only weird people didn’t like Wonder Bread).

Fireworks were everywhere on the Fourth of July, and there were no forbidden zones. Many an anthill served as a proving ground for mischievous boys in training for the demolition corps. What was done with cherry bombs will be passed over in silence.

Ma Bell introduced three-slot pay phones (for nickel, dime, and quarter) that year. She would lease you a home phone as well but not sell you one. You could, however, listen in for free on someone else’s party-line conversation, and you could make crank calls at will without fear that caller ID would expose you for being the lewd person that you were.

’56 Chevys, costing about $2,000, symbolized the oligopoly (composed of GM, U.S. Steel, and a few others) that John Kenneth Galbraith assured us would forever dominate a new industrial state and crush all future competition. “Made in Japan” meant junk, and Sony took this to heart by shipping its first transistor radio to Canada that year, perhaps sensing that it might ultimately have the last laugh.

Dairy Queens proliferated, having just introduced dilly bars to complement the banana splits they had been serving up for five years, but no trace could yet be found of McDonald’s (nor of the infamously-named and now near-defunct Sambo’s Restaurant which some of us may remember while eating those awful 3:00 a.m. fries in student mode during the 1960s and 1970s).

Gas stations were full service and gas was priced at about $.22 per gallon. The road culture ala Jack Kerouac held sway. Drive-in theaters flourished as part of a nationwide phenomenon which saw them quintuple in number from 1948 until they hit their peak by 1958 even as indoor theaters shrank by one-quarter during that same period. President Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act that gave impetus to the federal interstate system we know so well today. Commercial flying had gone mainstream, was highly regulated and expensive, and enabled you to get a hot meal with your flight.

Kodak dominated film. Polaroid was in its third decade of existence and had managed to sell its one millionth camera that year, though the Instamatic was still well off into the future. IBM had invented the world’s first hard disk (5 MB storage) for use on mainframes. Of course, the people of that day could scarcely dream of personal computers or hand-held digital devices or email or the Internet.

TVs were in about half of all households and had become the center of family activity, having supplanted radio and undercut the cinema. Almost all were black and white, as color sets did not catch on until the early ’60s. It took a U.S Supreme Court decision in 1955 to pave the way, but TV quiz shows were held not to constitute illegal gambling and so the $64,000 Question was eagerly watched to see if contestants could win individual prizes of as much as $100. Also eagerly watched were Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, who premiered their hugely popular Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC in October, 1956, bumping Douglas Edwards of CBS from the top spot in ratings for television news. TV poured forth a wealth of wholesome family entertainment, with Father Knows Best, the Danny Thomas Show, the Phil Silvers Show, the Loretta Young Show, Playhouse 90, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Caesar’s Hour coming to mind as standouts among the offerings. No VHS to record any of it with, however, and no TiVo either.

Hollywood released Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, with its nearly 4-hour runtime, whose very ponderousness is rumored to have prompted a prominent Jewish wag of the time to stand up in the middle of the screening and cry out, “Cecil, let my people go.” While it no doubt went unnoticed here in the Valley, Ed Wood also produced what is reputed to be the worst movie ever made, Plan 9 from Outer Space, whose star (Bela Lugosi), having died after only four days of shooting, was represented by a double through most of the movie! More likely to be found at the local Odeon were Bus Stop (Marilyn Monroe), Picnic (William Holden), The Searchers (John Wayne), Giant (Rock Hudson), Moby Dick (Gregory Peck), The Solid Gold Cadillac (Judy Holliday), Forbidden Planet (Walter Pidgeon), Anastasia (Ingrid Bergman), Friendly Persuasion (Gary Cooper), Around the World in 80 Days (David Niven and about 100,000 other stars in cameo appearances), Patterns (Van Heflin), and (my favorite) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kevin McCarthy). All in all, an OK but not a great year for Hollywood, as the great stars of the 1930s and 1940s had either retired or were past their prime and as the film noir fashion had pretty much reached the end of its tether, yielding place, on the one hand, to Doris Day fluff films and, on the other, to hothouse films of the William Faulkner variety featuring sweaty male leads and ever sultry and much abused ladies. Arghhh! No wonder the cinema was in decline.

The “beat” movement was in full swing, Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, and the movie “Rock Around the Clock” was released, causing rock-and-roll riots, of all things, throughout much of Europe. The vinyl LP had been around just shy of a decade and was hugely popular. Hugh Hefner had begun his mischief, and Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando each were promoting their own versions of sex appeal. Grace Kelly caused the nation to swoon with her marriage to Prince Rainier in Monaco. And Pete Seeger protested and sang folk songs. Kids played Monopoly and rode Schwinn bikes. The Yankees won the World Series, beating the Dodgers (the Brooklyn Dodgers, that is), with Don Larsen pitching a perfect game and with such stalwarts as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee Reese gracing the field. Professional basketball remained largely segregated, though amazing players did some incredible things in what were then known as the Negro Colleges and a certain Bill Russell had led the University of San Francisco to the NCAA championships that year for the second time running; today the ratio of white to black players in the NBA has shifted, to put it mildly. Martin Luther King’s Montgomery bus boycotts had just come to a successful conclusion, spurred by a post-Brown v. Board of Education decision of the U.S. Supreme Court brought about by a legal team led by Thurgood Marshall.

Schools had discipline, and prayer. Knuckle-rapping with rulers was OK. Girls were of the marrying kind or of the “other” kind. Boys were the same drips then as they are today. Latin was still taught as a required language, though Greek had been routed by well-meaning but thoroughly befuddled language latitudinarians. Grade inflation had not yet taken hold, and the dread of flunking out remained very real for those who didn’t meet standards.

Perhaps the greatest news of 1956 came with the discovery of a vaccine for the prevention of polio — one of the great medical breakthroughs ever. The Valley, and the nation, gave a huge sigh of relief.

Law practice was characterized by mostly male lawyers who never touched a typewriter and who dictated profusely, wore suits and ties, and addressed one another as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss (no Ms. at the time and no casual first-name familiarity). Typewriters abounded. Plain paper photocopying was still several years off, but law firms could still use cruder mechanisms for making copies. Lawyers will be lawyers, after all. Early fax machines existed but were few and far between and very expensive. An “express message” meant a telegram from the one company that then held a monopoly over that mode of communication. Literal cut-and-paste constituted the editing process. Manual redlining was laboriously done in larger firms but not much elsewhere. Even “large” firms were midgets compared to today’s giants (even as of the early 1960s, the then 80-year-old firm I began with in 1980, McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, had just 20 or so lawyers!). Lawyers did not advertise, and collegial relationships tended to characterize what were then true partnerships where lawyers, once established, planned to spend their entire working careers.

“Silicon Valley” did not then exist, but all that was about to change. It began quietly enough and many did not notice. In the late 1930s, a pointy-headed Englishman named Alan Turing had taken his vast knowledge of high-level mathematics, had assumed infinite resources, and had set about to develop a logical model of incredible theoretical power that he called his “universal computing machine.” He saw that a vast number of complex functions could be mimicked and processed through logical representations contained in simple “on” and “off” states. Thus was born the digital model (or at least its modern and truly effective incarnation). But a small problem remained: what to do about those “infinite resources” that higher mathematicians could take for granted in their theorems but that did not in fact exist. The analog world was one of heavy machinery, the bigger and more powerful the better. And yet, and yet . . . Maybe with the right materials, the power of electricity could be harnessed to give us real-world computers as so envisioned.

Enter William Shockley. The date: February 13, 1956. The place: 391 South San Antonio Road, Mountain View. The goal: to make the world’s first semiconductors. Yes, right at the time the Valley struggled to retain some semblance of its agricultural roots, Shockley announced the formation of Shockley Labs. While really a division of a larger enterprise, this little outfit ultimately set the model for many startups that would follow. How? Well, in spite of all-pervasive genius, it never made a dime of profit. Only red ink. A true model for the Valley!

What is more, it became a prototype of a startup that is begun, controlled, and dominated by an engineering genius who proceeds to suffocate the life out of it. Today such engineers are kept caged in a back room, carefully guarded, and periodically fed big helpings of stock options to keep them tamed. Back then people didn’t know any better. And so William Shockley ultimately destroyed the company of which he was the brainchild. And brainchild he was — the Nobel-Prize-winning inventor of the world’s first transistor, a key foundational piece upon which the digital model could be built. A man with enough stature to assemble what was perhaps the world’s most famous founding team. But it all came to naught, and Shockley took his Nobel Prize and moved to Stanford to expound upon wild racial theories.

But what a founding team he had assembled! Gordon Moore. Robert Noyce. The founders of Fairchild Semiconductor and, ultimately, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, and all the “fairchildren” that eventually came to the fore. From failure came spectacular success. Thus, the great companies of the Valley were poised to come into existence and realize the great digital vision of Alan Turing. The world of startups, venture capital, and explosive growth was about to begin. And Santa Clara Valley was never to be the same again. Silicon Valley was born.

Liquid Waistline

On the basis of “calories in versus calorie out” what you drink might be a primary indicator of what you carry around your waist. A new analysis “What America Drinks” suggests that beverage choices could play a key role against Americans’ battle of the ever-increasing bulge.

“What America Drinks” report states that Americans consume about 500 beverage calories per day. Calories from sweetened beverages, such as soda, fruit flavored drinks, alcohol, pre-sweetened iced teas and sport/energy drinks can account for one quarter of your total calories per day and do not supply your body with the satisfaction it is looking for. A regular glass of wine, for example, carries approximately 120 calories, sport drinks/sodas can magically hold 200 calories, pub beers also hold about 200 calories and hard liquor has about 70 calories per ounce, which equates to the size of a small shot glass. These liquid calories do not provide the vital nutrients that aide in healthier bodies.

Most of you may not compensate for drinking your calories by eating less. Because liquid calories typically do not satisfy our hunger you may continue to eat your normal portion size. The report suggests that most adults drank soda or another calorie rich beverage more often than a healthier milk product. It also suggests that Americans who drank more milk and less nutrient poor beverages tended to weigh less than those who drank milk regardless of overall calorie intake.

Another independent study found that when a calorie beverage was consumed with a meal there was not a reduction in total food volume intake and the beverage calories added on to the calories from food, which resulted in a larger total caloric meal. This is a similar finding from many studies on portion size awareness. The more food that is placed in front of us the more is consumed. Subjects from this study reported that they did not feel more full by adding caloric beverages to a meal. Subjects also reported that the more beverages they were served they more they drank. The psychology of these various studies seem to be redundant—the larger the plate or glass the more you consume. Think small to help control your waist line.

Side note: According to the American Beverage Association, the average American consumes over a gallon of soft drinks per day. 7-Eleven’s bestseller, the Double Big Gulp, contains a whopping 800 calories.

Listed below are some tools to help you fight the bulge.

Instead of.. Try..

Coffee Starbucks regular cappuccino (400) Dunkin Coffee

w/skim and splenda (40)

(Avoid cream, sugar and whip)

Alcohol Long Island Iced Tea (230) Beck’s Light (64)

(Limit alcohol consumption

Stay hydrated, use lower %)

Juice Nestea (180) Fruit H20 (0)

(Use non-sweetened teas, try

seltzers, watch sugar content.

try fresh lemon, lime

or 100% fruit juice in water )

Energy Drink Gatorade (200) Propel (25)

(Check label for calories per bottle)

Dairy Whole Milk 1% or skim

Remember, saving just 100 calories per day can make a difference toward your weight loss goals. Compare your favorite sweetened beverage to low fat milk by visiting this interactive site: http://thinkaboutyourdrink.com/weighing_bb.php

A Tourist Guide to Canada’s Yukon

1. Yukon

The Yukon, the vast, rugged, thinly populated expanse of land located above the 60th parallel in northwestern Canada which shares its border with Alaska and accurately earns its self-proclaimed slogan of “larger than life,” is a topographically diverse, serenely beautiful, and intoxicatingly attractive territory of barren, treeless plains, boreal forests, rugged mountains, glaciers, and mirror-reflective lakes and rivers inhabited by Canada’s First Nations people and abundant wildlife. Because of its high latitude, it experiences more than 20 hours of daylight in the summer, but fewer than five in the winter, replaced, instead, by the northern lights known as the “aurora borealis.” Aside from the major “cities,” most communities are only accessible by floatplane or dogsled.

The Yukon’s history is, in essence, that of the Gold Rush. Sparked by the August 16, 1896 discovery of a gold nugget in northwestern Canada at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, it began when some 100,000, seeking wealth and adventure, set off on what had later been designated the Klondike Gold Rush Trail between 1897 and 1898. The event, which produced an instantaneous population boom and ultimately shaped the territory, traces its path to five significant locations in both the United States and Canada.

The first of these, Seattle, Washington, had served as the gateway to the Yukon. Advertised as the “outfitter of the gold fields,” it sold supplies and gear stocked ten feet deep on storefront boardwalks, grossing $25 million in sales by early-1898, and was the launching point for the all-water route through the Gulf of Alaska to St. Michael, and then down the Yukon River to Dawson City. Despite the high fares, which few could afford, all passages had been sold out.

Dyea and its Chilkoot Trail, the second location, had provided a slower, more treacherous, alternate route, via the 33-mile Chilkoot trail which linked tidewater Alaska with the Canadian headwaters of the Yukon River.

Skagway, Alaska, the third location, quickly replaced Dyea as the “Gateway to the Klondike” because of its more navigable White Pass route which, although ten miles longer than that of the Chilkoot Trail, had entailed a 600-foot-lower climb. The trail, quickly destroyed because of overuse, had ultimately been replaced by the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad whose construction, financed by British investors, had commenced in May of 1898 and had extended to the White Pass Summit by February of 1899, Bennett Lake by July of 1899, and Whitehorse by July of the following year. Skagway itself had been metamorphosed from a cleared, tent-dotted field to boardwalk-lined streets sporting wooden buildings with 80 saloons in the four-month period between August and December 1897.

At Bennett Lake, the fourth location, 30,000 stampeders awaited the spring thaw, constructing 7,124 boats from whipsawn green lumber and launching their flotilla on May 29, 1898, fighting the Whitehorse rapids before following the Yukon River to Dawson City.

Dawson City itself, the fifth location, had been the site of the first gold nugget discovery and had begun as a small island between the Yukon and Klondike Rivers hitherto only occupied by the Han First Nations people, but exploded into Canada’s largest city west of Winnipeg and north of Vancouver with up to 40,000 gold seekers covering a ten-mile area along the river banks. Thirty cords of firewood were used to burn shafts through the permafrost to the mines themselves. Of the 4,000 who actually discovered gold, only a few hundred ultimately emerged “rich.”

2. Whitehorse

Whitehorse, the Yukon’s wilderness capital on the banks of the Yukon River with a population of 23,000, had itself been shaped by the gold rush and the transportation means which developed to facilitate it. Named for the rapids on the Yukon River, which resembled the flowing manes of charging white horses, the area had first served as a fishing encampment of the Kwanlin Dun First Nations people. In 1987, the tent-comprised Canyon City served as the operational base of a horse-drawn tramway which, for a fee, carried people and goods, particularly gold rushers, round the treacherous White Horse Rapids on log rails.

Three years later, in 1900, the tracks of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad reached the city, today the only international narrow gauge railroad still operating in North America, and passengers transferred to the extensive riverboat service, which completed the journey to Dawson City by the Yukon River.

In 1942, the US Army completed the 1,534-mile Alaska Highway in a record eight months, 23 days, and Whitehorse had been incorporated as a city in 1950. Three years later, it replaced Dawson as the capital of the Yukon.

Whitehorse itself is accessible by multiple travel modes. The paved Alaska, Haines, and Klondike Highways provide road access within the territory and to Alaska, while the gravel Dempster Highway connects Dawson City with Inuvik above the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories. The Alaska Marine Highway and multiple, daily cruise ships serve Skagway and Haines, Alaska, during the summer season. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad connects Skagway with Fraser and Bennett Lake, British Columbia, with service soon to be extended to Whitehorse. And the Whitehorse airport offers daily service, via Air North, Air Canada Jazz, First Air, and Condor, to Yellowknife, Dawson, Fairbanks, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Frankfurt, Germany. Floatplanes provide remote community access.

The story of Whitehorse can be traced by its many diverse sights and attractions.

The MacBride Museum, for instance, toted as “Yukon’s first museum” and housed in a log structure with a sod roof, had been established in 1951 by historian Bill MacBride in order to explore the Yukon’s history. It features stuffed wildlife in its upper gallery; “Rivers of Gold,” an exhibit depicting Yukon prospecting and placer mining since 1883, and Yukon’s First Nations people, in its lower gallery; and early copper mining equipment, blacksmithing, and Sam McGee’s original, 1899 cabin in one of two outside exhibition areas. The other contains overland stages used by the White Pass and Yukon Route between Whitehorse and Dawson, an 1895 Northwest Mounted Police Patrol cabin, and Engine number 51, built in 1881 and used on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad seven years later in 1898.

The Old Log Church Museum, an Anglican cathedral built in 1900, is one of the oldest buildings in Whitehorse and tells the story of the early Yukon missionaries, including that of the priest who survived a winter expedition by eating his own boots for sustenance.

Perhaps the most popular sight, and one which serves as the very city symbol, is the S. S. Klondike, a National Historical Site of Canada. The largest of the 250 sternwheelers to have plied the Yukon River at 64 meters long and 12.5 meters wide, it had been constructed in 1920 by the British Yukon Navigation Company, a subsidiary of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, in the city of Whitehorse itself, and had been an integral part of the inland water transportation system which connected Whitehorse with the remainder of the territory and hence served as the principle element of its own growth.

The design, which traced its lineage as far back as 1866 when the first such steam-powered riverboat reached Selkirk, the S. S. Klondike I, with a 1,362.5-ton gross weight and powered by two 525-hp compound jet-condenser engines, had featured a revolutionary hull which enabled it to offer 50 percent more cargo volume than previous configurations without sacrificing shallow draft instability, enabling it to accommodate more than 300-ton loads for the first time, along with 75 first and second class passengers. Of its three decks, the first, or main, deck housed the engines, boilers, and cargo; the second the lounge, communications office, dining room, galley, and sun deck; and the third the bridge and the crew quarters.

Succeeded by the dimensionally identical Klondike II after the initial vessel ran aground in 1936, itself completing the 460-mile downstream run from Whitehorse to Dawson in 36 hours with only one or two wood-replenishing stops, it had been operated as a cargo boat between 1937 and 1952 and had ultimately been converted into a small cruise ship for service until 1955.

The current dry-docked boat appears in its 1930 guise.

The Whitehorse Train Depot, which replaced the originally constructed, but later fire- consumed structure, reflects the typical western Canadian architecture of the early 20th century, although alterations had been made during World War II and during the Alaska Highway project. After scheduled railway service had been discontinued in 1982, the Yukon government had purchased the building and restored it, its passenger waiting room now reflecting its 1950s heritage.

The Whitehorse Waterfront trolley, using the narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad tracks and paralleling the Yukon River with stops at Rotary Peace Park, the Tourist Information Center, the White Pass Train Depot, Wood Street, Shipyard’s Park and Kishwoot Station, and Spook Creek, provides an excellent introduction to the city, using a single trolley car, number 531, for its hourly round-trip service.

The car itself, in its original yellow color scheme, had been partially built by the J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia in 1925 for the Lisbon Electric Company which subsequently assembled the kit in its Santo Amaro shop. Of the 202 cars constructed there, 24 had been of the car 531 type.

Trolley 531 had operated in Lisbon until 1976, at which time it had been acquired for the Lake Superior Museum of Transportation in Duluth, Minnesota, where it remained until the Yukon government had purchased it in 1999. Flatbed truck transport, through bitter cold and ice, enabled it to reach the White Pass and Yukon Route engine restoration shed in Whitehorse on January 6, 2000.

The double-ended tram car, with controls at either end, has two 25-hp General Electric motors and two k.3 controllers, and had been intended to operate off of overhead electrical lines with a power pole, but the lack of such facilities in Whitehorse necessitated the temporary provision of a trailer-installed electrical generator. The present 600-volt operation replaces its originally intended 550-volt current, and the installation of railroad wheels permits it to run on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad’s 36-inch tracks, although it had been designed, with its original trolley wheel base, to utilize the narrower, 34.5-inch rail width.

Because of the equally standard-gauge body, it permits four-abreast, two-two, seating, sporting a varnished hardwood oak, mahogany, and cherry interior with original signs still in Portuguese.

The Whitehorse Rapids Fish Ladder and Hatchery, located five minutes out of town, had resulted from the late-1950s construction of the Whitehorse Rapids Hydroelectric Facility by the Northern Canada Power Commission. The Alaska and Klondike Highways, linking many communities and obviating the need for the then-vital sternwheeler river transportation system, ultimately led to the transfer of the Yukon’s capital from Dawson to Whitehorse, and its population expansion could no longer be supported by the downtown diesel generator electricity method. Construction of the greater-capacity hydroelectric dam, commencing in 1956, formed Schwatka Lake, and this produced the city’s first electricity two years later, in 1958.

Although the facility improved the quality of life for the human population, it proved the detriment to the salmon species in the river. Salmon had traveled up the Yukon River to spawn for thousands of years, laying their eggs in gravel which, after the winter gestation period, hatched into alevins in early-spring, and fed and developed in the cold, clear waters for up to two years. Swimming out to the ocean, they returned several years later to the exact location of their births to lay their own eggs and begin the process anew.

In order to circumvent the new hydroelectric dam and permit them to continue their life cycles, the world’s longest wooden fish ladder, at 366 meters, had been built in 1959. Progressively rising in steps by 15 meters from the Yukon River to Schwatka Lake, it enables salmon to safely pass round the dam and continue their migration process.

A two-hour boat cruise on Schwatka Lake by the appropriately-named m/v Schwatka, a 28-ton, dual-decked, 40-passenger boat, provides an excellent introduction to Whitehorse’s wilderness side and sails through Miles Canyon, the turbulent “Devil’s Punchbowl,” and the Yukon River itself.

Several interesting attractions are located along the Alaska Highway, up Two Mile Hill Road.

The Copperbelt Mining Railway and Museum, the first of these, provides a 1.8-kilometer figure-eight loop from its red McIntyre Station building through the skinny spruce forest, using an abandoned spur line of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad located in the historic Whitehorse Copper Belt mining district. Its two engines, 10- and 20-hp Loke diesels, were manufactured by the Jenacher Werks in Austria in 1969 and 1967, respectively.

The Yukon Transportation Museum depicts the territory’s Gold Rush transportation heritage, displaying unusual travel modes associated with the north, from the snowshoe to the dogsled to the airplane. Exhibits include a Canadian Pacific DC-3 mounted on an outside pedestal; a full-size riverboat, the “Neecheah,” and a steam locomotive. Inside exhibits include a gasoline-powered Casey car, which transported workers on the rails; a passenger car used by the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad; a White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad model train layout; a Ryan B-1 Bougham designated “Queen of the Yukon,” a sister ship to Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” which served as the first commercial airplane to have operated in the Yukon after its purchase from the San Diego factory by Yukon Airways and Exploration, Ltd., in 1927 for $10,200.00; dog sleds; a 1927 Chevrolet convertible; a five-cylinder Kinner engine; a Lycoming R-680 engine; a 1965 International Travelall ambulance; a welded steel frame from a Fairchild FC-2W2; a Smith DGA-1 “Miniplane” homebuild; a bus from the B.Y.N. Bus Lines; military vehicles, including a seven-passenger Dodge Carryall used by the US Army’s Northwest Service Command during construction of the Alcan Highway; and a log rail tramway which used parallel logs as “tracks.”

The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center examines Beringia, a sub-continent of the last Ice Age which had been located in the Bering Strait and had encompassed Siberia, Alaska, and the Yukon. Although the remainder of Canada had laid under massive ice sheets, Beringia itself had been untouched by glaciers because of the 125-meter reduction in sea levels, producing tundra whose tough, dry grasses had supported a wide range of herbivores and carnivores.

The woolly mammoth, among them, had been the predecessor to the modern Asiatic elephant and the museum sports a full-size cast of the largest example ever recovered. The short-faced bear, which had been one foot taller than today’s grizzly counterpart, had been the largest, most powerful land carnivore in North America during the last Ice Age. The museum also features a reconstruction of the 24,000-year-old Bluefish Cave archaeological site.

The earliest human inhabitants, following bison and mammoth herds 24,000 years ago, had migrated from western Beringia to current Canada.

3. Kluane National Park

One of four contiguous national and provincial parks, inclusive of the Yukon’s 21,980 square-kilometer Kluane National Park, Alaska’s 52,600 square-kilometer Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska’s 13,360 square-kilometer Glacier Bay National Park, and British Columbia’s 9,580 square-kilometer Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, Kluane National Park itself is topographically diverse, encompassing massive mountains, valleys, lakes, boreal forests, valley glaciers, and ice fields. Of the two mountain ranges-the Kluane and Icefield-the latter sports Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan, at 19,545 feet. The largest non-polar ice field in the world, a remnant of the last Ice Age, is also located here.

Of the two types of populations-human and animal-the former includes the Southern Tutchone people, who had previously lived a nomadic lifestyle, but continue to practice a culture which closely revolves round the natural world, and the latter includes grizzly bears, lynx, mountain goats, moose, wolves, black bears, caribou, coyotes, 180 species of birds, and the world’s largest concentration of dall sheep.

Haines Junction, which is located two hours from Whitehorse via the Alaska Highway and serves as the national park’s base, is a year-round, full-service village whose modern history began in 1942 with the completion of the Alaska Highway itself at Milepost 1016. A year later, a branch road, over the Chilkat Pass, connected it with Haines, Alaska, and Kluane National Park had been designated a preserve in 1972.

Its few sights, always flanked by the breathtaking, purple-hued St. Elias Mountains, include the Village Monument, a local wildlife sculpture; the eight-sided log St. Christopher”s Anglican Church; and the Our Lady of the Way Catholic Church, which had been constructed in 1954 from an old army Quonset hut remaining from the Alaska Highway project.

The ubiquitous slender, dark green spruce, encountered during my own tour of the national park, lined either side of the deserted Haines Highway, the vertical ridges of the St. Elias Mountains of Kluane National Park on the right side hues of purple, chocolate brown, and velvet-green at their bases. The silver surface of Kathleen Lake reflected between them.

Kluane National Park and the adjacent Wrangell-St. Elias National monument across the border in the United States had been jointly nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Together, the properties present an unbroken, pristine natural system, with a rich variety of vegetation, patterns, and ecosystems.

The first stop of my own drive revealed a pebble beach, which, acting like a threshold, led toward the emerald green water of Kathleen Lake, bracketed on either side by tall, silent, fragrant spruce, the water itself interfacing with the green-carpeted mountain on the far side in seamless transition, taking the eye up to the brown, vegetationless top, from which a slender “s” of snow still snaked, a remainder of the long winter and short summer “pause” between the next frigid cycle. Since it had been August, that beginning had not been very far way in these northern latitudes.

The Kokanee salmon, living in the fresh water lake for the first three years of its life, swims the short distance to Sockeye Lake in the fourth year, at which time it dies. In the 1700s, the Lowell Glacier had surged across the Alaska River, blocking its drainage into the Pacific Ocean and thus creating an enormous lake. When the dam suddenly burst in 1856, the waters had been released in torrential floods, draining the basin.

Kluane National Park sports both glaciers of ice and rock, the latter formed in cold, alpine environments on mountain slopes. During the last 8,000 years, brittle bedrock shattered into fragments by the freezing and thawing action of the winter-summer cycle. Lubricated by meltwater and riding a core of glacial ice, a continually accumulating mass of rock slowly ground its way down the mountainside, forming rock glaciers.

The huge, deep blue of Dezadeash Lake, encountered at another stop, had been surrounded by considerably-distanced mountains, whose soft-curved, inverted bowl-like peaks had been reduced to gray and green, almost indistinguishable silhouettes in the early-afternoon beneath the high, unobstructed, gleaming sun. The sky had been a flawless blue.

Klukshu Village, dotted with tiny log cabins and a gift shop, had been an important place for many Champagne and Aishihik families, particularly during salmon-spawning season between June and September when king, sockeye, and coho salmon migrate up the river.

4. Conclusion

The Yukon, with its capital city of Whitehorse and wilderness Kluane National Park, indeed provides an interesting journey through its Gold Rush legacy and the transportation means which had developed to facilitate it.