Ferry flights and severed toes

As part of my job as a flight attendant for Air North, I got to fly to Fairbanks and spend Friday night in Dawson City. It's a tough job, I know.

A main dirt road in Dawson City. Photo by Christa Galloway.

On the way I had the opportunity to get some neat photographs during the ferry flights between Whitehorse, Fairbanks and Dawson City. (Ferry flights are flights with no passengers)


One of the pilots, Daniel, was kind enough to give me a lovely, mostly accurate tour of Dawson, having only been there a couple of times before himself. While we meandered the town, Corie, the other pilot, went for a jog up the "Dome," a five mile round trip up a 1700 foot hill with 360 degree views. I'm saving that for a trip when I have a few days, a few less pounds and a lot more stamina.

Dawson City is a long meandering town of 1400 people with old-fashioned store-fronts, historic buildings and quirky shops (and some good deals I'm told.) Some of the main streets are still dirt with clapboard sidewalks. If you took away the cars and the streetlights, you could believe you were in a small gold rush town in the 1898. Parts of the town remind me a bit of the show, Deadwood.

Some western-style shops in Dawson City. Photo by Christa Galloway.

A farmer from Mayo enjoys an ice cream from Klondyke Cream & Candy in Dawson City. Photo by Christa Galloway.

The Yukon River in Dawson City. Photo by Christa Galloway.

After touring the town we met up with some more Air North crew for dinner at El Dorado, then we checked out the sourtoe phenomenon at the Downtown Hotel. If you haven't heard of the sourtoe, it's a Dawson City tradition where you have a shot with a toe in it. Not a fake plastic toe, or toe-looking olive, an actual severed human toe. For $5 you get to take the shot with the toe in it and you have to let the toe touch your lips to get the sourtoe certificate. My brother did this years ago when he came to Dawson for work and delighted in grossing people out with the pictures.

For a while, there was no toe. The story I heard is that someone took the shot, drank the toe on purpose and slapped down the $500 fine. How many thousands of disappointed tourists were formed after that unfortunate incident, I can't even guess. Eventually a new bigger toe was donated and the toe swallowing fine is $2500. On Friday night, visitors flocked to the toe, eagerly lining up for their shot. I spoke to one gentleman who seemed a bit grossed out by the whole thing while his wife did the sourtoe ritual with an ear-to-ear grin.

Dawson City visitor Joy Hinson gets the pre-sour toe spiel before taking her shot. Yes, that's a real toe. Photo by Christa Galloway.

I know what you're thinking... did I do the sourtoe? Not this time. But I'll be back, so who knows?