I always have said that I would like to live in a small town. It is either a dream or a hallucination…. the remoteness, the slower pace, knowing everyone, improvising to get things done, etc. have always been appealing. But Dee keeps bringing me back to reality, pointing out how much I like Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, good restaurants, running water, sewer systems (more later)…. Let me tell you about Atlin.
Atlin is a small isolated community in the NW corner of British Columbia, on the traditional lands of the Taku River Tlingits. Glacial-fed Atlin Lake is 4 miles wide and 85 miles long, in a wide wilderness valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Atlin is a 2 or 3 hour drive from Whitehorse Yukon, the capital of the Yukon with . Current population is up to 400 full-time residents. During the Klondyke Gold Rush of 1898, the population was 10,000! Many buildings from that era still remain. Though Mining and Tourism underpin the economy of Atlin, there is a large and very influential number of artists, artisans and authors in this very special little-known community.
Atlin is about 60 miles off the Alaskan Highway, one way in and one way out. About 20 of those miles are dirt/gravel. Just our kind of place and road to get there.
So off we went.
From the Alaskan Highway you are in The Yukon and you cross over into British Columbia further down the road. They Yukon is fixing up the road as you can see from these photos from the Trek.
It is hard to imagine a town that is unincorporated. In Atlin’s case, and I assume many unincorporated towns, that means there is no mayor, no council, no elected officials, i.e. no one is in charge. Everything that needs to be done to keep the town operating is done by volunteers. Volunteers groups sign up to watch after the roads, docks, library, museum and historical buildings, campground, festivals, etc. etc. Many of the people near the lake draw their drinking water from Lake Atlin, said to be much cleaner than any domestic water system in big cities. There is no sewer system so if the home has no septic, the sewage is hauled to the “lagoon” and dumped! Here is a sign at a campground a little ways out of town that characterizes the place
Just drop your fee at ANY business in town! Would that work in Phoenix? Or any other place you know of?
We paid an extra $3 and got the “el primo” Penthouse Site. It is on a spit of gravel, only 14 feet wide, that extends out into Lake Atlin. How cool! We stayed three days!
Bow and Starboard Views
Port View and Front Deck – Awesome!
Norm is the owner and developer of the Norseman RV Park
Views Around Town
The Tarahne was originally a tour boat on the lake. It was saved and is being restored by townspeople.
Gold mining is pretty big these days with heavy equipment being used and 24/7 operations. Helicopters and planes fly workers and supplies to the mine sites.Atlin is a unique place. There are a couple general stores/groceries in town and a single gas station. No cell service and shaky landline. People are pretty independent but pull together to get things done. We would like to go back some day.
SO, Would YOU want to live in a small town? As small and remote as Atlin, BC?
It took us a while to figure out what was going on here. Someone had replanted downed tress upside down! They also have a sense of humor in Atlin.
Next time I will summarize our trip to Alaska and share some of our observations. Until then…….