Atlin retreat

Winter scenes around our northern neighbor

Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2003

Atlin, British Columbia, is situated on the shore of Atlin Lake and is about 100 miles north of Juneau, across the Juneau Icefield. The town can be reached by plane from Juneau, or by taking the state ferry to Skagway and driving 160 miles.

The town was founded in 1898 when gold was discovered nearby; its name is from the Tlingit "Ã Tlén," meaning big water and referring to the long, narrow lake. Its year-round population today stands at about 450 residents.

Fires through the years have claimed many structures, but several important surviving community buildings have been restored by the Atlin Historical Society.

The provincial building and courthouse, built in 1900, houses the town's library and a branch of Northern Lights College. The Globe Theatre, built in 1917, was brought back from near-total dilapidation and now hosts concerts and other town events.

A prominent attraction in town is the 78-foot passenger boat Tarahne - pronounced "tah-ron" - which was used to bring tourists to town from 1917 to 1936.

The Tarahne was built in Atlin by the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, and the company left the boat on the town waterfront when it ceased offering its Atlin tours. The boat was abandoned until 1985, when the local historical society began a slow restoration process that continues today. The boat hosts gatherings in the summer, including the annual 1920s-era Tarahne Tea in July.

Other winter attractions around Atlin include springs, both hot and cold, along Warm Bay Road south of town; remains of buildings and mining activity at the former Discovery townsite east of town on Surprise Lake Road; opportunities for ice skating, snowmobiling, heliskiing and cross-country skiing; and myriad views of desolate, windswept, ever-changing scenery.

For more information about Atlin, visit

Andrew Krueger can be reached at




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