A Morning in Haines, Alaska – Fort William H. Seward

Our next port of call was Haines; another small, historic fishing town along the inside passage. Haines is also home to Fort William H. Seward, a military post that was officially deactivated in 1946. Although known as ‘Fort Seward’, this army post should not be confused with the town of Fort Seward located in California or Seward, Alaska.

A building in Fort Seward; Haines, AK

A building in Fort Seward; Haines, AK

Its buildings still stand and have other uses, such as a hotel, a bed & breakfast, the community arts center and several private residences. These white buildings are situated in a rectangle around a grassy lawn and are quite easy to identify from the ship. Haines is also home to the largest concentration of bald eagles in the world and we could see them overhead as we came into dock.

We planned no sponsored excursions for our day in Haines, wanting to explore at our will and on our schedule. We did however wanted to make sure we had time to get to Skagway, a port just a few miles up the coast, accessible to us by ferry. We bought our tickets for an afternoon departure.

Dutch Sailing Canal Barge in Haines marina

Dutch Sailing Canal Barge in Haines marina

Setting out in Haines started with a walk up Front Street, visiting their marina first and find ourselves on Main Street. Our first goal was to find a great cup of coffee and we did so at a little coffee shop just past the curious Hammer Museum we had heard so much about. http://www.hammermuseum.org

We didn’t make it into the museum while we were there but apparently it houses over 1,500 hammers from around the world, dating back to Roman times.

Carving Crow totem pole, Alaska Indian Arts, Winter 2007-2008 Project

Carving Crow totem pole, Alaska Indian Arts, Winter 2007-2008 Project

We stopped at the Rusted Compass Coffee shop for a real latte, baked goods and some local conversation. The coffee on the ship was fine, for all intents and purposes, but freshly ground does add something.

Most of the morning was spent exploring the streets of Haines, working our way back to Fort Seward. There honestly wasn’t much to see in or out of town, but it was quiet and beautiful. Entering Fort Seward felt a little like stepping back in time. We traveled across the green and found ourselves in the fort’s old hospital, now the Alaska Indian Arts gallery and studio. The walls were lined with black and white photographs and vibrant Tlingit prints. In a large room off to the right, we found a local man working on an actual totem pole. He wasn’t a man of many words, any words actually. But it was very meditative to watch him at his work.

Haines, Alaska Map Sign

Haines, Alaska Map Sign

We finished our morning walking through some of the local shops along the edge of the Fort, we found an amazing flower garden and visited Dijon Delights right across the street for some smoked salmon.