In the great white north, one might expect to see the northern lights twinkling in the crystal clear sky. Residents of the Golden North Hotel might have another opinion about lights, one specifically with supernatural explanation. While there are many ghosts of the old Alaska territory in Skagway, the most prevalent ones include a young woman who passed from pneumonia, and a bright light that terrifies staff and guests alike in the spooky room 14.
The Klondike gold strike in 1896 brought hundreds of would-be prospectors to the region, with Skagway being the most direct route to the gold fields. The tale of a boom town from a gold rush is familiar by now, and so are the ghosts that stick around long after the last ore was weighed and sold in the region.
Originally, in its time before it became a hotel, the building now housing the Golden North was used as offices and a general store for the Klondike Trading Company, a business that began in a tent in the 1870s that prospered in the face of gold strikes up north. Like many boo towns, the hotel was at one time one of two buildings in the town, the rest filled by a tent city until the 1910s, when more permanent structures were raised.
The Golden North hotel was first built in 1898, with a move in location occurring in 1908, where the hotel now sits. When the move was made, another story was added to the structure, and the iconic golden dome was added, giving the hotel a respectable and iconic appearance. It was first advertised as a better alternative to the tents and bunkhouses in the boom town, and it was very loudly proclaimed as a more respectable place than the saloons and bars in town– The Golden North was originally a dry hotel.
The most famous of the ghosts that haunt the Golden North hotel is known by the moniker “Scary Mary.” Mary was said to have been brought to Skagway by her prospector husband after he struck it rich in the mountains. She came to the remote final frontier and rented a room in the hotel, spending time with her husband before he had to go back out into the wilderness for more ore extraction in the gold seams. He promised he’d be back as soon as he could, but the weeks stretched on and Mary lived a quiet life in the hotel, locking herself in her room and slowly going mad as she waited for her husband. Staff worried about the young woman, and broke down the door in concern for her. They found her dressed in her wedding dress and waiting restlessly for her husband to return. Tragically, Mary would take to her bed with pneumonia and her husband would come home too late. Mary had already died, coughing and choking in room 23, which is now said to be haunted with her restless spirit.
Many report seeing Mary, dressed in the 1910s style clothing and wandering the halls of the grand hotel. She can appear as a pale figure in the windows of the hotel, or a rush of white running past employees and guests in the halls. The most terrifying of these stories include guests waking to see her hovering over their bed, seemingly checking to see if her husband was in bed with another woman after all these years without him. The locked-in Mary seems to have never checked out of the hotel, but instead stays vigilant while waiting, forever, for her husband.
In room 14, there is another supernatural occurrence, reported by guests and staff alike. A bright white light is said to be seen in the room, illuminating the room like the North Star, as bright in the darkness as electric lights and flickering like a fire. Staff have reported that it can sometimes look like an orb, sometimes as a sourceless light casting shadows in the room, or even a bright light like a flashlight in the window of room 14.
Today, the Golden North hotel is exactly as its name describes– Gold and glittering. With a striking facade and beautiful turn of the century style and fixtures. Scary Mary might come and say hello in her perpetual search in the afterlife, or you might be woken up to a bright, blinding light. Regardless, it’s up to you to decide to check in– except you will likely be able to check out.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.