Stop number two took us to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, two and a half miles from town, where visitors can watch massive numbers of fish trying to make their way up the hatchery ladders to spawn while seals and even eagles try to catch their share along the way.
In May and June, you can see the juvenile spawn prior to their release at scattered sites. The hatchery releases close to 115 million salmon annually, but only two to 10 percent make the return, which takes place July through October. Even with these reduced numbers, the sea of living fish fighting to climb up the ladders is staggering.
When the adults return, the females are shocked with an electric current, then their eggs are removed for later fertilization in special holding tanks. The hatchery is permitted to incubate 121 million chum, 50 million pink, 1.5 million coho and 950,000 chinook salmon annually. After touring the facility, visitors can make their way into the Salmon Shop and scan the variety of salmon products and novelties, including complimentary samples of salmon caviar products.
Back in town, I found that Juneau is compact enough to allow a quick walking tour that includes a look at the governor’s mansion, home to 10 governors and many other territorial governors, the downtown core and the quaint St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.
Built in 1912 at a cost of $40,000, the governor’s mansion is a modest 2-1/2 story wooden building whose walls are plastered over and painted white with a number of totem poles standing near the entrance.
Though there were no Russians living in Juneau when Alaska was a Russian colony, the lovely white with blue accents church built in the "Russian colonial" style was consecrated in 1894 to serve the area’s Tlingit population. The current congregation consists of five families and 20 people, but financial support comes from visitors, including thousands of cruise ship tourists, who come to see its 18th century Russian icons and relics.
My seven-hour long visit ended spectacularly with an 1,800-feet ride up to Mt. Roberts aboard an aerial tramway, which climaxes with a spectacular look at Juneau and the surrounding area from an observation deck. The top of the tram includes the Timberline Bar and Grill, the Chilkat Theater, where an 18-minute documentary explains Tlingit life, heritage and history, a nature center, gift shops and several hiking trails.
If You’re Going . . .
For more information on Juneau, phone 1-888-581-2201 or www.traveljuneau.com. For more information on the Holland America Line, phone 1-877-932-4259 or www.hollandamerica.com.
Dave Zuchowski is a travel writer for CNHI News Service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.