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Haines Travel Guide, Alaska

For those who have not taken the time to take Haines on a closer view, it is just a place to pass through. Only those who visited it thoroughly can realize what they have missed so far. Another reason why the small community of Haines has been neglected so far could be that it has lived in the shadow of its brash cousin Skagway or maybe the locals did not want the place to be discovered. There are still some different views in local politics concerning to what extent should the community embrace tourism. There is no doubt that a more developed tourism would help the local economy.

You will find Haines on a peninsula between the Chilkat and the Chilkoot inlets at the northern end of the longest and deepest fjord in the US, Lynn Canal. The view on a clear day includes the snow-covered Mount Ripinsky, the Chilkoot and Chilkat mountains, and glaciers spilling out into the deep fjord.

Haines’ strong point is that it is not quite as rainy as other Alaskan towns; it is happy and casual (things are kept plain and simple and they don’t make a big deal out of them as in the big cities) and once you discover it, Haines unveils wonderful charms.

Outdoor activities and wildlife draw people into the outdoors here. They have options like bird watching, kayaking with well protected sea- waters and hiking with excellent trails right from town. If you go bird watching you should expect to see more bald eagles than anywhere else on earth. There’s even a museum dedicated to them called the American Bald Eagle Foundation Natural History Museum, a huge diorama of more than 180 eagles and other mounts of Alaska wildlife.

If you don’t feel like exploring things on your own you can choose guides that are well-established for any activity.

Other entertainment options include the Southeast Alaska Fair held in mid-August and featuring crafts, log-rolling, cookouts and a small pioneer theme park called Dalton City well known as its buildings came from the movie sets of Jack London's White Fan.

Another attraction you can’t miss is Haines's dominant feature the 1904 Fort William H. Seward National Historic Site with buildings overlooking the Lynn Canal fjord. It was a deactivated military installation and not much of an attraction till one of the shareholders thought of something to do with the property. The idea of putting a Tlingit tribal house on the parade grounds proved to be brilliant and then the Alaska Indian Arts cultural center was established. Now there are interesting exhibits as totem carving and you can see silversmithing practiced.

There’s no doubt about the fact that Haines is Alaska's center of odd or unusual museums. You are invited to see all of them starting with the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center, containing a gallery of Tlingit art and cultural artifacts which have a personal touch as some of them are displayed with pictures of the artisans who made them. There is also a collection on the pioneer history of the town.

If you want to trace the history of salmon canning, the Tsirku Canning Co. is the place to go. You can see the old machineries that were used to make the can and can the fish in canneries around the state in an hour-long museum tour. This museum states the important part the fishing industry has played in the state being its largest employer.

The newest museum and the most unusual is the Hammer Museum owned by Longshoreman Dave who has collected more than 1,400 hammers from all over the world, but he found its most precious piece, an 800-year-old Tlingit war hammer, while digging up the foundation of the museum itself.

Everybody will find something to their taste in Haines, whether they are adventure seeker, art and history lovers or just people who want to relax in a wonderful scenic place.

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