“In 1881 Eagle was one lone log cabin.”

Eagle it was, up and down and around and around sixty-four miles of one-lane gravel road. At first the road perched on the edge of a continuous precipitous chasm that fell to the Fortymile River far, far below, producing beautiful if terrifying views. Then it plunged what felt like straight down to run for a few miles right next to the river, we were close enough to look for salmon (didn’t see any) and then straight back up again over still more mountains. We stopped at American Summit, a bald knob where the trees were sparse and stunted and the woolly lousewort is thick on the ground. We felt like we could raise our hands and touch the sky. There followed a steep, hairpin-turned and hair-raising descent into Eagle (nowadays, population 152), once a hub of gold mining activity for the upper Yukon drainage, and a tiny gem of a town perched at the very edge of the Yukon River itself. I don’t know what I was expecting here, but it wasn’t this kind of beauty.

Dana Stabenow. Alaska Traveler (Kindle Locations 2434-2441). Gere Donovan Press.

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