A trail into Valdez history

By Ruth Shramek Valdez Vanguard

An 1899 pack-horse train trail over Keystone Canyon has recently been opened to the public. Jim Shephard, a recently retired employee of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., worked to clear the trail over the summer.

Shephard hiked part of the trail over 20 years ago. "I've always been interested in the historic aspect of Valdez," Shephard said, "so when I retired I decided to work on this."

Working mainly alone, Shephard used hand saws, hatchets, snippers and other hand tools to clear approximately 2.5 miles of trail.

The accessible portion of trail begins from the Valdez Goat Trail near Bridal Veil Falls in Keystone eanyon, and ends on the Old Richardson Highway loop near Heidenview parking lot. "There is a sign-in book at the top of the canyon where you cross Horsetail Creek," Shephard said. "We've already had people from as far away as Switzerland sign in."

The trail still needs some minor work, said Shephard. "I'd like to clean up the roots and grass that's burying the original rockwork," he said.

The trail was originally opened on June 17, 1899, by Captain Abercrombie. He had orders to clear an overland route to Copper Center and up to Eagle City on the Yukon, providing prospectors with easier access to the Interior.

"To celebrate the (Gold Rush) centennial, it would be great to gather some pack horses and videotape another journey over the pack train trail on June 17, 1999," Shephard suggested, "exactly 100 years later."

Hikers should meet at the Heidenview parking lot. A public hike is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday.

For more information on the hike, call Nancy Lethcoe at 835-5175.

reproduced from the Valdez Vanguard 9/24/97 

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