Our campsite about 24 miles from Chicken
Before venturing into Chicken in the morning, I wandered down the road a short distance from our campsite and ran into an old mining village.
Chicken: Population 40 during summer and 25 in winter. About sums Chicken up. Some of us had read the book "Tisha" about a young teacher who arrives in Chicken to set up and teach school in the wilds of Alaska in the early 1900's, and so we took the guided tour of the old village of Chicken.
Setelline (sp) torch. Suppose to be really rare.
Interior of the school house today
Today, Chicken is still a gold mining town which today capitalizes on its name. The story goes that the miners wanted to name it Ptarmigen but didn't know how to spell it so they named the town Chicken instead. It is still an active gold mining town and one man owns the mine and several businesses and apparently mines enough gold to keep his business running and support himself. "Downtown Chicken" is one business, not really a downtown. Another business is "Beautiful Downtown Chicken". It's not a town either. The real Chicken is the village we toured that is owned by a private party who doesn't have any plans to restore it, but does make an effort to not let it deteriorate much more.
The road which is now called the Taylor Highway (a continuation of the Top of the World Highway) is very, narrow and full of pot holes all the way to Chicken. The scenery was worthy of the drive. There were no pull outs though. A pilot car precedes tour buses on this stretch of road to let on coming traffic know of the approaching buses. We had to stop and wait for two buses to go through. (They were bigger than us.)
We were offered free dry camping if you filled up with gas. The dry camping wasn't really dry because it rained the whole time. That is a poor attempt at a joke. You would think some of the rain would have washed off some of the mud on my coach and Jeep. NOT.
Chicken also hosts the Chicken Stock..a bluegrass festival. We briefly considered staying longer for the festival, but the call of civilization was getting pretty strong and mail was waiting in Tok. The Chicken Cafe lured us in with the promise of "world famous cinnamon buns". Now where have we heard that before? They were good but not as fresh as they could have been. We decorated Bill's bun (cinnamon bun that is ) with a candle..it was his birthday and he thought we all forgot about it. I forgot the camera though.
We probably wouldn't have camped in Chicken overnight. There wasn't that much to see or do, but we had a few mishaps. Bill and Liz both ended up with flat tires on their tow cars. We were able to take Liz's tire into Chicken and get it plugged, but then had to return and put the tire back on so Liz could it drive into Chicken. Yes, she probably could have towed it with the spare donut, but because of the weather and muddy roads we decided it would be much better to not chance her towing the car.
Bill had gone into Chicken to use the internet after dinner the night before (so he says) and had a flat tire on the way. The jack broke while he was trying to change the tire. He managed to get a ride back to camp, but left his car in Chicken. You can image our concern when we didn't see Bill's car in the morning and we didn't know he had gotten a ride back to camp.He was in his coach sleeping. It turned out his tire couldn't be fixed and he had to put the donut tire on in order to tow his car and didn't want to drive it back on the muddy, rainy roads. What are the chances of having two out of three cars get a flat tire at the same time? A good lesson why it is good to travel with a small group.
This was a record day for miles driven from one campsite to another...24 miles.