Stewart, British Columbia, Canada/Hyder, Alaska.
I’m not even sure where to begin to tell you about these two places. Richard and I made our first trip here in 2008. The towns are about 40 miles off the Cassier Highway, but worth every minute of the narrow winding road.
The economy of Stewart is supported by a varied range of industries including logging, mining and mining exploration and is destined to become a major port for distribution of ore and logs. Stewart offers a paved highway to major transportation routes, a salt water port which supports a barge terminal and bulk commodity loader. The Portland Canal is a mere 80-90 miles from the Pacific Ocean allowing ore and log ships to come from all over the world. Stewart also possesses an excessive amount of hydro power available for industrial use. Two deep sea facilities are in operation, Stewart Bulk Terminals and the District of Stewart log storage and handling facility. Space for considerable expansion exists at both facilities.
So sayeth the welcome brochure. I can tell you that the first time we visited, there was one heck of a lot of logs in water between the town and the fjords across the way. This time, they are in the process of updating the facilities, so there were only a few lonely logs bobbing in the canal.
Gold and silver mining dominated the early economy. Nearby Hyder Alaska, boomed with the discovery of rich silver veins in the upper Salmon River basin in 1917 and 1918. Hyder became an access and supply point for the mines, while Stewart served as the port for Canadian mining activity, which was centered on the town of Premier, which was accessed by a 14 miles (23 km) road from Hyder.
To get to Hyder, you must drive through Stewart and then cross the Canadian border in to Alaska. They don’t stop you going in because the US doesn’t have a border patrol. When we were here before we were told stories by the locals in Stewart that Hyder was known as a place for people who wanted to get lost. They have no police force. One guy told us they have 2 fire trucks—one with brakes. One without. The one with always went ahead and the other ran into the back of it to stop. Who knows if that is true or not. I certainly wasn’t going to ask anyone because I couldn’t really tell the dangerous felons from the not-so-dangerous.
We did ask a lady who owned an art and jewelry gallery wasn’t she afraid to have a store in a place where there was no police and no border patrol to stop unsavory characters from coming into her town. She told us that she knew we had just come from Canada and we didn’t have a gun, but she did. She had a very valid point, ‘cause them suckers make sure you don’t have a gun when you come into Canada. Please refer to June 1, blog post.
Hyder is called the friendliest ghost town in Alaska.
There are two major reasons why people go to Hyde. One is the area is surrounded by majestic coastal ranges of mountains and the Cambria Ice Fields. The ice fields, with numerous glaciers, provide some of the most breathtaking scenery in North America.
Also, Fish Creek gives us a great opportunity to view and take pictures of Alaskan Brown (grizzlies) and black bears. The bears come to feed on chum and pink salmon which spawn in the creek. Supposedly, you can watch the bears in their natural habitat.
Richard and I have decided this is an elaborate scheme to “punk” the Wilson’s. The first time we came here, we stayed 3 days and made 3-4 trips across the border (my favorite activity) to see the bears. Not ONE time did we see any bears. The people leaving and the rangers would say we were too late. They’d been there and ate and had gone home to watch Two and a Half Men. During the day, they would say to come back at 6:30 when the bears would be back for their evening feed. No, they would have come at 4:00 and we missed them. Didn’t the stupid bears have watches so they knew when they were supposed to be there?
This trip, was the same thing. Several trips over the border, and we never saw one bear. Now remember that we crossed over, and even though the US had no one at the border, the Canadian’s did. The officers would give us a friendly wave and off we’d go.
Coming back was a whole ‘nuther cup of tea. We had to show passports, driver’s licenses, and answer questions like what were we doing in Hyder? Uh, looking for bear. They’d ask if we were bringing anything back from Hyder with us. Were they kidding? There was nothing there to bring back—not even a picture of a bear. I was tempted to say, well yes we did lob off a chunk of Salmon Glacier to take back to Florida with us. But I didn’t.
It was so weird. We had seen 12 bears on the road into Stewart and then one on the way back to the Cassier Highway, but not one had a fish he was gnawing on. The trip would have been a total loss except for Pursibal (I know I’m not spelling that right. I could barely pronounce it).
Anyway, this little fellow was a cute little white doggie who escaped from his owners and had the whole RV park in an uproar trying to catch him. I think I actually heard old Pursey LOLing all over the place as about 10-12 elderly people moved faster than they probably had in many years. They kept calling his name and it echoed off the towering mountains that surrounded us. I would have been running too, if someone had named me Pursibal (?). We watched for quite a while and when we left to go in search of bears feasting on chum, they were still chasing him. It was so funny watching a streak of white skitter here and there almost like a phantom.
Just a few stats—as of today, we have traveled 11,065.7 miles. We’ve used 1481.5 gallons of fuel. We’ve averaged 7.4 miles per gallon. Please don’t try to figure that out. You will hurt something. And the stat I am the proudest of is I have had 9,736 hits on my blog. Thanks everyone. You’ve kept me connected to my home a long ways away. Not much longer and we’ll be home.
|One of many glaciers in Hyder Alaska|
|Morning mist in Stewart, BC|
|Richard on boardwalk waiting for Yogi and BooBoo to come by|
|Big blue heron in tree watching us watch for bears|
|Look what I have for you, Lizzy Long. The old moose horns--|
not the old moose.
|Main Street |
Until next time,