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Stan Selmer, Part 1

Stan Selmer was interviewed on October 5, 2018 by Karen Brewster at his home in Skagway, Alaska. In this first part of a two part interview, Stan talks about the development of and possible impacts of the Goat Lake Hydroelectric Project built in the 1990s as a way to provide more electricity to the community of Skagway, as well as the Dewey Lakes and Kasidaya Creek hydro projects. He also shares his observations of environmental change in Skagway from his childhood to the present, including: weather observations; winter temperatures, snowfall, and icing conditions; flooding and river water levels; cruise ship air pollution; wind; melting glaciers; trees; and warmer summer temperatures and drier conditions.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2018-14-02_PT.1

Project: Observing Change in Alaska's National Parks
Date of Interview: Oct 5, 2018
Narrator(s): Stan Selmer
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Ruth Sensenig
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


Goat Lake Hydroelectric Project

Water wells drying up in Skagway

Observations of environmental change: snowfall

Documentation of weather observations

Dewey Lakes Hydroelectric Project

Skagway's use of hydro to provide power

Potential impacts on fish from Goat Lake project

Effect of Goat Lake project on water flow rate, waterfall, and downstream ecosystem

Observations of environmental change: salmon, river water level

Observations of environmental change: flooding

Land ownership, permitting, and archaeology of Goat Lake Project

Post from old Brackett Wagon Road, and White Pass history

Observations of environmental change: trees, cruise ship pollution

West Creek Hydroelectric Project

Human adaptation to change

Rock slide in Skagway harbor and above Gold Rush Cemetery

Observations of environmental change: river ice, and winter temperatures

Observations of environmental change: flooding

Observations of environmental change: winter temperatures, snowfall, ice

Cutting down of cottonwood trees in town

Observations of environmental change: wind, summer temperatures

Observations of environmental change: glaciers

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


KAREN BREWSTER: Ok, today is October 5, 2018, and this is Karen Brewster, and I’m here with Stan Selmer at his home in Skagway, Alaska.

And this is a recording for the Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park Oral History Project and the Climate Change Project.

Stan, thank you for taking time today. STAN SELMER: You’re welcome. KAREN BREWSTER: On a lovely, gray, typical Skagway day.

STAN SELMER: It is fairly typical, but it hasn’t been typical this last six weeks. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Well, anyway, appreciate it.

And we also may see your cat, Iris, or the dog, Misty, make an appearance here or there. STAN SELMER: Hopefully, it’ll just be passing through. KAREN BREWSTER: Yes. I don’t think they’ll have anything to say. STAN SELMER: No. No.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um, so as I mentioned off camera, you know, you were interviewed before in 2010 about, you know, your life here in Skagway and growing up here, and so we know that about you already.

Um, and you worked for AP&T, Alaska Power & Telephone? STAN SELMER: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: And now, have you retired? STAN SELMER: I retired in 2010. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: The year that you were here. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: I think it was November of 2010. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: And, uh, haven’t looked back.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um, so related to AP&T, can we talk a little bit about the Goat Lake Hydro Project? Was that done when you were with AP&T? STAN SELMER: That was done when I was with AP&T. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: They had started some of the preliminary engineering and studies before I was on board, but I came on in 1993, and Goat Lake was finished in -- I think it was operational in December of 1997.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. And so for people who don’t know what that project is, can you explain it a little bit? STAN SELMER: It’s a alpine lake siphon project where the pipe is put in the lake, probably some 200-and some-odd feet from the surface.

And through the necessary machinery, it pulls the water out and brings it down the hill, to the tune of four megawatts, which is enough to serve Skagway and Haines most of the time.

Obviously, in the summer time when Skagway has their peaks, and in the winter time when Haines has their peaks, the need for additional hydro is -- still exists.

There’s another hydro project that was built in 2008, and -- but it’s a run of the river. It’s not a year-round project like Goat Lake.

And so, there’s still some need to run diesel to help meet peaking needs. And I think hydro, generally, this year is lower than it’s been in probably many years because we didn’t get any snowfall last -- last winter, to speak of. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: And um, I know that water wells in Skagway are drying up. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. STAN SELMER: Right now, because there’s not enough water in the river.

And I don’t know what that means for the city, because the city draws their water from underground wells.

KAREN BREWSTER: That are -- so those underground wells are refilled through the water coming from the river? STAN SELMER: From the river. The water table, yes. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: And I don’t know -- don’t have a clue what the city’s estimate of water life is. I’m not trying to scare anybody. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: But I do know that some of the people on the hill and a couple of people in the valleys’ wells have in -- within the last couple of days, have -- have dried up. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

And is that the first time in your memory that’s happened? STAN SELMER: No. First time it’s happened this early in the year. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. STAN SELMER: Usually it’s a mid-winter, no-water type situation. KAREN BREWSTER: Because everything freezes, yeah. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And so, with -- last winter was so little snow, or no snow maybe down here in town, is that unusual? STAN SELMER: It’s unusual, but Skagway typically doesn’t have a lot of snow.

Um, we’re the -- I believe we’re still the least precipitated town in Southeast Alaska. You know, twenty-six to thirty inches a year, where everybody else is in the 100-200 inches a year.

We may get two to three feet of snow; Haines gets thirty feet. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STAN SELMER: That kind of difference.

But to not get even the little snow that we do get was a surprise. Although this morning, you can’t see it quite yet, but I could see it early when the peaks at the base were uncovered -- they’re just covered white. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right. STAN SELMER: So that’s a good start today.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and that was to say, with this snow pack last year, there may not have been snow in town, but even up in the mountains -- STAN SELMER: Even up in the mountains, it was very sparse, yes. KAREN BREWSTER: It was very sparse, compared to other years? STAN SELMER: Yes. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: In my -- my only real source of knowing that is, I drive to Whitehorse quite a bit. And the plowed snow at the edge of the road was as low as I’ve ever seen it. Last year.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. And as I said, you grew up here, so you’ve lived here since 1948? STAN SELMER: Eight, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: I’ve had a few years that I spent away from Skagway, but always ventured home every year. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So that’s a long period to have made those observations. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

Well, in -- I probably shouldn’t even mention this, but I’ve got my dad’s birthday calendars that he kept over at 7th and Broadway for many, many years, and he wrote the temperature and the winds down every day on the calendar. KAREN BREWSTER: Cool.

STAN SELMER: And I’m debating what to do with those calendars. Um, I haven’t thrown them away. I don’t know where the first batch is, but I know where the second batch is. And he died in 2001. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: So he would have been writing that information down from probably the ‘40’s to the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: To the 2000’s anyway. Sixty years, probably.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. Yeah, maybe the Park would like that kind of record for their archive? STAN SELMER: Yeah, and I will -- I will look and see what I have. I know the one box is in my office. I could go look here in a minute, but I don’t remember what I did with the rest of them. I think they’re out in the garage somewhere. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: You know, like I say, there were years and years. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STAN SELMER: Some months missing, but, ah --

KAREN BREWSTER: But that’s pretty important information. STAN SELMER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s really cool. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um, but I want to go back to the hydro. STAN SELMER: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: But, before Goat Lake, there was the Dewey Lake Hydro, right? STAN SELMER: Dewey Lake Hydro, I believe, is the second oldest hydro in the state of Alaska.

And I think it was either -- I’m going to get this wrong, but I think it was either 1902 or 1904 is when it started.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. Which is amazingly early for -- STAN SELMER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- a big project to supply electricity to a town. STAN SELMER: Yep. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: But it’s still -- it’s still functional. Um, I think the last big piece of work that got accomplished up there was in 1995.

We rebuilt the forebay dam at the reservoir. And the reservoir is where the valve house is, and the pipes come down to the power house in Skagway. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: Um, I don’t think there’s been any other major work done at Dewey, but it’s still producing. Still running right now.

KAREN BREWSTER: So -- Yeah, so it’s Dewey and Goat Lake are providing the power? STAN SELMER: Dewey, Goat Lake, Kasidaya Creek, Lutak Hydro, and then 10-Mile Hydro. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: AP&T does not own 10-Mile Hydro. That’s owned -- privately owned, but it provides power out the highway to Klukwan and places like that. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: And Haines.

And whenever they have extra, when we need it, we buy it.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know why Skagway's decided to go so hydro versus continuing to use diesel? STAN SELMER: Well, the price was a big mover for -- back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.

Um, and when they hired me, they got somebody who, you know, had spent, well, all of the life that I’d lived thus far, being very, very pro-hydro with the Dewey project.

And so it was no -- it was no challenge for me to get involved and supportive of the Goat Lake project.

And the Kasidaya project, it was finished before I retired, but I didn’t spend as much time working on or around because I had been --

AP&T had filed bankruptcy in 2002, and it changed my role in the company to where I was part of the work-out team for the bankruptcy and became quite distant from operations.

KAREN BREWSTER: And before that, had you been president of the company, or what -- STAN SELMER: Um, I have been the executive vice president and the chairman of the board. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: Those were my two peak accomplishments in my employment with AP&T.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. So when Goat Lake was being discussed, were there concerns? Was it controversial in the community, about how that would affect that lake and that area? STAN SELMER: Well, as is -- as is always the case, you always have something that comes along that nobody really thought of, nobody being AP&T, thought that somebody would think to plant grayling in the lake before we built our project.

And then we build the project, and what do we do with the fish? Well, we had to study the fish for, I don’t know how many years, and, uh, eventually the Forest Service, Fish and Game, and maybe the City of Skagway all spoke out and said, well, the fish haven’t been a success, but it hasn’t been a failure because of the hydro project.

So we got to stop spending money of the rate payers -- the rate payers’ money was ceased being spent on fish that couldn’t survive.

KAREN BREWSTER: So those grayling were introduced? They weren’t native? STAN SELMER: Yes, they were introduced.

Someone said that back in the earlier days, like the 1930’s, that they had put some Dolly Varden up there. But if they did, they didn’t survive.

But one of the things that, um, that I believe happened, and it’s not science, it’s just my ability to think, I guess.

When we were doing our studies up there, and you would cut a hole through the ice, the holes would be full with freshwater shrimp. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: Well, after they put the grayling in there, the grayling removed the freshwater shrimp. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: So there was no more food for them to eat in the winter time. They could eat flies in the summer time, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: And I’m sure that played a role as to why they didn’t -- they didn't survive. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. They ate themselves out of house and home. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: I’ve never heard of freshwater shrimp. STAN SELMER: It looks just like a regular shrimp, only they’re very, very small. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh. STAN SELMER: Very small.

KAREN BREWSTER: Are they common in the lakes up there? STAN SELMER: Well, I can guarantee you that nobody planted those shrimp in that lake. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: I -- I -- I have to think they’re -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I’ve just never heard of 'em. STAN SELMER: They’re natural.

KAREN BREWSTER: So where -- where exactly is Goat Lake? STAN SELMER: Goat Lake is about six miles north up the valley. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: It’s at about the 28- or 2900 feet elevation, and it’s a very deep lake. Very deep lake by comparing it to Lower Lake or Upper Lake.

Goat Lake is over 400 feet deep. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. STAN SELMER: That’s a deep lake.

KAREN BREWSTER: And had it been a local recreation area? STAN SELMER: No. No.

Dr. Sammann, who was the doctor here a lot of my youth, um, and some of my adult life, too, he had a seaplane, and he would fly it in up there, and, I think, just for his own get out of town, get away from being called for an emergency, I’m going to go fly my plane up to the lake. And he did.

And Fish and Game, I think in concert with the Forest Service, was most interested in planting the grayling and having them be a success for a fly-in fishery. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: And yet, I believe that, myself, and I was the manager here in Skagway at the time, and the manager in Haines, I believe that we were the only two people that ever caught massive amounts of grayling and were paid a very high wage per hour to do it.

KAREN BREWSTER: ‘Cause you did it on the job? STAN SELMER: We did it on the job. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STAN SELMER: Yeah. To see what sort of success.

And we’ve even gone up there, and we’ve netted minnows, in the spring when the grayling would spawn.

And I’m sure, I just can’t see that they’re totally wiped out. I’m sure there’s still probably some fish in that lake. But I haven’t been up at that lake for probably a good twenty years.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Well, as I -- you know, I asked about the controversy 'cause I can’t imagine a big hydro project like that going in without some opposition. STAN SELMER: Well, the other opposition was, the -- the falls is a beautiful falls. And we were going to be taking that water from the falls and putting it in a pipe, and making electricity with it.

And so the Forest Service had us -- a mandatory release of, I think, 13.5 cfs had to come down the falls, even though the highway was built after the falls was there. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: Tourists have a pull-out up there for them to look at that falls. And so we were going to impact tourism somewhat by having less water there. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: But eventually, the Forest Service even allowed us to drop it from 13.5 cfs down to, I think it’s 8.5 cfs now from 7:30 in the morning 'til 7:30 at night. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh -- STAN SELMER: In the summer time, between May 1 and September 30.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then in the evenings, you -- STAN SELMER: In the evenings, we shut the faucet off and impound, keep the water in the lake. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. Oh, ok. STAN SELMER: Yep. KAREN BREWSTER: Cool.

STAN SELMER: So, and it -- that bothered people, that we were having to release water as much as it did that we were --

What was that noise? Oh, it’s my cat sleeping over here. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: Anyway, people were upset because we were releasing water that could be generating electricity.

And as we were taking water away from electricity, we were replacing it with diesel power.

And so diesel was more expensive than the water, so there was people just as much on the side of don’t release the water as there were do release the water.

KAREN BREWSTER: And when you hold water back and then release it like that in sort of a big burst, does that affect the ecosystem farther downstream? STAN SELMER: Um, I certainly don’t think it affects it in the summer time at all.

There may be some impact in the winter time. And this has not been studied as far as I know in recent years. It hasn’t been an issue.

But the water that comes out of Goat Lake in the winter time is of a higher temperature than the river water. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: And we’ve had several ice dam events on the Skagway River where the ice is broken and the ice has come down.

There’s been some heavy flows of ice and water. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: Now I can’t say that it’s only been because of Goat Lake, because the Dyea River has had stack ice from those ice dams breaking for years, and there’s no hydro project over there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: But Skagway River, uh, typically hadn’t had the frazil ice formation, which forms from the rocks up and then release, until the Goat Lake project came in.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. Interesting. And are there fish in that river who could be affected by the bursts of water? STAN SELMER: Mmm, there’s several species of anadromous fish in that river: Dollys (dolly varden), coho, chum, and I believe even some kings get misdirected up there.

And right now, we’re waiting for the coho to show up because we haven’t had any water. There’s been nothing to give them the scent that they should be heading up the Skagway River.

I’m hoping the rain we got last night will be a start, and I’ll be able to go up and catch some -- some coho.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. So that’s interesting. So now it means the coho are late this year? STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Because there hasn’t been enough water? STAN SELMER: Hasn’t been enough water.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that’s unusual? STAN SELMER: It is, very. Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: Interesting. Yeah, that’s some environmental change that I wouldn’t have thought -- down the line. That’s interesting.

STAN SELMER: Yeah, and I mean -- I don’t -- you look -- you take a look at the high-pressure area that was over the Arctic Circle the last number of weeks, where did that come from? Why is that there? KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm.

STAN SELMER: And is it now truly gone? And I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: It’s the lack of rain in September. I mean, September has always been --

When I was the mayor, if we were going to have a high water that we needed to be concerned about, it was going to be in September or October. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: And we evacuated people off the river, uh, I think it was in early October. In fact, it’s maybe -- maybe right now. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. STAN SELMER: This time of year.

More than once, because of the heavy, heavy rainfall that we had, which hasn’t -- hasn't materialized this year.

KAREN BREWSTER: So has there been a change in flooding events? STAN SELMER: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: On the Dyea and the Skagway rivers? STAN SELMER: More -- a lot more in the Dyea River than I can ever remember. KAREN BREWSTER: More flooding? STAN SELMER: More flooding.

And that’s all because of the -- I mean, it’s not because, it’s more of a researched issue because of the Chilkoot trail that gets impacted by the river flooding.

But nonetheless, I mean, there’s still, I think, a lot more high waters in the Dyea River or the Taiya River than I can ever remember.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so, in what time frame? In the last five years? Ten years? Twenty years? STAN SELMER: I’d say twenty years. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: In Skagway, the last big water that we had in the Skagway River, where it was all hands on deck, I believe was 1993 or 1994, so that’s twenty, twenty-two, twenty-three years.

Now, the state came in and put a cross-river dike in below the Skagway River Bridge, and I think the engineers got it right.

Since they’ve done that, we haven’t had any really high water events.

And the city put in a -- a flood control project with diking upstream on the east and the west side.

So I think, I think we finally realized that the river was going to cause us greater harm if we didn’t get out there and do some work. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

Well, yeah, having a big river like that right in the middle of town. STAN SELMER: Yep. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Is, uh, something to be concerned about. STAN SELMER: Yep. Yep. KAREN BREWSTER: For sure.

STAN SELMER: And several stretches of property, AP&T owns some, the city owns some, the state owns some, were lost in that, I think it was the ’94 flood.

KAREN BREWSTER: So, speaking of property, for the Goat Lake project, what were the property and permitting issues? I mean, did you have to obtain that property, or how does that work? STAN SELMER: I think we had to get everything except -- oh, we had a Corps of Engineers permit, too.

The bigger issues were going to be, sure, we could build it, but what were we going to do to the geography? KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: And so, a lot of my early involvement, which I think I mentioned in the last discussion we had, my earlier involvement with Goat Lake was, where do we put the power house?

And we had an archeologist that we hired, who was actually a friend of Karl Gurke’s. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: And he came in and did some archeological work in an area where we thought we could put in a power plant, and my goodness gracious sakes alive!

The stuff that he found there would obviously be found if we were going to put a power plant there.

And I don’t -- I really don’t think there was any way that we could mitigate the impact that the power plant was gonna have on the Brackett Wagon Road. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that’s what it was. STAN SELMER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: It was the old wagon road. STAN SELMER: The old wagon road.

So we, Vern Neitzer and myself, and probably many others, we started researching having it be on the state side, rather than the federal side of the Skagway River, and that worked out. It worked out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember the name of that archeologist? STAN SELMER: Karl would. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: But I -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I just didn’t know. STAN SELMER: Wagner, Weaver, um. KAREN BREWSTER: It doesn’t matter. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um, well, that’s what I was wondering. You said state side versus federal side. I know around here it’s a big mish-mosh of who owns what. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that that must make it complicated when you’re doing a project. STAN SELMER: It does, but it even makes it more of an issue when --

I have a great interest in history and preservation of it, and so, I mean I, maybe as much as anybody in the Park Service, wanted to see that power plant be on the west side of the river where it wasn’t going to impact anything from the gold rush. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: But I found George Brackett’s corner post on that trail during my efforts at Goat Lake.

And I tried to get the Park Service to work with the Forest Service to consider putting in a day use trail along the Brackett Wagon Road, and that’s gone nowhere. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: I’ve also thought, you know, why wouldn’t the park consider taking George Brackett’s corner post and putting it somewhere and keeping it for perpetuity and let the public see it? ‘Cause nobody’s going to climb down there to take a look at it.

And that’s why I have a book on my table here, "A Wild, Discouraging Mess," is I had hoped that that would have some information in it that would guide me back to where I found this. And it doesn’t. It doesn’t help me at all.

I mean, it’s a helpful book, but not for what I need help on.

And so I have volunteered through Annie Matsov. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: At the park here, and through Albert -- I don’t remember Albert’s last name. He’s a temporary park, um, replacing Mike Tranel.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, superintendent? STAN SELMER: Superintendent, yeah.

Um, hang on just a second.

KAREN BREWSTER: So, I will have you explain for people who don’t know, who Brackett was and what this corner post symbolizes. STAN SELMER: Albert Faria is the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Current superintendent. Acting -- STAN SELMER: Current acting superintendent.

Uh, George Brackett was a gentleman that came up here during the gold rush and wanted to build a wagon road and charge tolls to use it to get up to the White Pass and on up into the Yukon Territory for gold mining.

And he was successful at building the, uh, the road, the wagon road, and I’m sure it was used by numbers of people.

But then the railroad built right over the top of it, and when you get a railroad taking you where you need to go, you don’t need a horse-drawn wagon going across a wagon road.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so his wagon road was an alternate to the Chilkoot Trail? STAN SELMER: Yes, it was.

KAREN BREWSTER: With the belief -- Is White Pass lower, or was a less steep route? STAN SELMER: A less steep route.

You know, you couldn’t convince all the dead horses that it was a less steep route, but man wasn’t having to climb all that. He could have the horses pack. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: Whereas you didn’t have horses packing stuff over the Chilkoot Trail. KAREN BREWSTER: No.

STAN SELMER: So it was a -- it was just man looking at an easier way to do something. George, seeing that he could be a role player in it, and he was for awhile. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: But I’ve looked at Cynthia Brackett Driscoll’s book recently again. She and I and another park person went up and did a lot of work on the trail itself, when she was writing that book. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: Um, but it -- it -- I mean, it’s a good book, and it tells the story that needs to be told, but I still would like to see if that corner post could be found that they would -- they, being the Park Service, would work with the Park, work with the Forest Service and get it somewhere where it can be --

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And so, it’s a corner post for what? STAN SELMER: For the Brackett Wagon Road. KAREN BREWSTER: So --

STAN SELMER: You walk up there and you can see the various elevations and the directions that are carved in this post by George Brackett. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok. I think of a corner post, like for a building, but it’s like a sign post. STAN SELMER: Yeah. Well, it’s a similar type of thing. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: And it was -- I think it was four by four, with the top cut four different ways, four angles.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Yeah, that would be -- STAN SELMER: I think it was on the right hand side of the trail.

And I remember all that, and it isn’t -- it isn’t anything that’s happened to me that makes me not remember. KAREN BREWSTER: No. STAN SELMER: It’s just the time that’s lapsed. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: I would need to go down -- because I found it by accident. I was trying to walk my way out of the trail one day, and I wanted to go south on the, what I’ll call the railroad side of the river, and, uh, when I ran into it.

I found a lot of other railroad -- old railroad stuff that was down there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of old railroad stuff up there. STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, one of the things we talk about, you know, how the environment and the landscape here may have changed. Up there, that’s up in the alpine country. STAN SELMER: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Have you noticed changes?

I mean, maybe you don’t go up there anymore, but in other times. Like, there are more trees up there than there used to be? There’s, well, you mentioned less snow.

STAN SELMER: No, I think -- I think my comment on trees is going to be maybe shocking, but it’s my opinion, my feeling.

And I don’t know that it’s an opinion anymore because I think the park has done at least one emissions study here. And I think they’re doing another one, or it’s maybe being completed this year.

Um, I think cruise ship emissions have killed a lot of trees on the east side of the Skagway Valley.

And I won’t make that statement about the Brackett Wagon Road or up in that area, um. I’m concentrating my comments about the tree damage to the Skagway Valley. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: Up on the Dewey Lakes side.

And I think there’s also some damage to hemlocks on the Face Mountain side, as well.

Um, I’ve -- I’ve spent parts of the last five years taking pictures of cruise ships smoking in Skagway, and I’ve sent them --

I’ve either been the mayor, or I’ve sent them to other mayors, and they’ve gotten some effort from the Department of Environmental Conservation to come in and take site smoke readings. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: And they fined some of the ships.

But money doesn’t get spent planting new hemlock trees, and until it does, that’s a crappy way to make the ships stop polluting this valley. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: There has to be some painful way that gets the cruise ships to switch to LNG or figure out some way.

You know, Skagway -- Skagway itself has a way to do this. KAREN BREWSTER: Which is, reduce the number of cruise ships? STAN SELMER: Well -- KAREN BREWSTER: No? STAN SELMER: That’s -- that's -- that's a way, but it wouldn’t be acceptable to the thousands of people that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: Make their living here, there, and everywhere from cruise ships.

I think what could be done, and it’s got just as much of a controversy, is to build the West Creek Hydro Project. And that hydro project could be, I think, twenty-five megawatts.

And you could probably get enough power here to maybe power three of the big ships.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, so then the ships wouldn’t have to run their engines. STAN SELMER: They wouldn’t run their engines while they’re in port, while they’re a hotel in port. They would be powered by Skagway’s power.

And I’ve tried, and I’ve tried, and I just -- I guess I’m not doing a very good job of explaining, but Skagway would own the West Creek Hydro Project. It wouldn’t be owned by AP&T.

It would be owned by the city, and all the revenue that would come in from that, millions and millions and millions of kilowatt hours of sales would go to the people of Skagway. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: And yeah, there would be a tremendous cost to build it, tremendous cost to operate it, but when you’re able to sell 100% of twenty-five megawatts for six months out of the year -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STAN SELMER: Every year, that’s a pretty good deal. A pretty good deal.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, because then it -- in the winter, you could use it to power other things in Skagway.

STAN SELMER: Sure. Sure. I mean, it increases the -- it decreases the reliance on diesel.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it’s a good example of a response to - or an adaptation to perhaps a changing environment. STAN SELMER: Right.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that’s part of the discussion here, is not only what may be different, but how have people adapted to it? STAN SELMER: Um-hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: You know, if the fish are coming in later because there’s less water, what are people doing in response to that? STAN SELMER: Yeah.

And I don’t know what they’re going to do. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to go fishing today and see if they came in. KAREN BREWSTER: Instead of three weeks ago. STAN SELMER: Instead of, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: 'Cause I didn’t go up, because the river was silty for a long time and then cleared up and diminished and no fish.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, is the Skagway River, it’s not run-off from the glaciers? STAN SELMER: It is. KAREN BREWSTER: So it’s not a silty river? STAN SELMER: It is. KAREN BREWSTER: Or, it is? STAN SELMER: It is a silty river.

KAREN BREWSTER: But it still has fish and -- ok. STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah.

But anyway, that’s the -- one last comment on the cruise ship emissions issue is, if the City of Skagway is not ever going to build the West Creek hydro project, and I believe I’m saying something that’s fact. I don’t believe it’s something that’s a guessing game anymore.

I don’t believe there’s enough interest to do that, no matter how much cruise ship emission there is.

But maybe they could put in an LNG plant that would provide power for the cruise ships via LNG, and put that project at Kasidaya, where the other hydro project is.

And have the LNG be delivered to that location by barge. And you never -- you never move the barge. The barge is the fuel tank for the cruise ships. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: And then when you have an empty barge, you bring another barge in. And all you have to have on shore is enough LNG to provide power for whoever’s using it -- cruise ships, et al --for the time that it takes to swap out the barges. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: And, I mean, that’s another -- I don’t think that would be all Skagway, but Skagway could certainly be the bus driver on that project, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Is there any way that the cruise ships could be in port here and not run their systems? Could they just sit here idle? No? STAN SELMER: It -- it -- I’m assuming that they could, but room temperatures, all the things necessary have to be -- (phone ringing). What should I do with that?

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, let’s pause it, so you can answer the phone.

Ok, we’re back after the phone call interruption, which happens. That’s ok. STAN SELMER: Sorry. KAREN BREWSTER: No worries, it happens.

Um, one environmental issue -- thing I wanted to ask you about was in 1992, I think it was, there was a big landslide down into the harbor or something? A big rockslide? Do you remember that?

Underwater landslide. It damaged the wharf and the pilings? STAN SELMER: Oh, oh. Yeah, that was, um, that was in 1994. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ’94. Ok. STAN SELMER: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. What happened there? STAN SELMER: I don’t know that anybody knows what really happened there.

And I know that there was a slipping away of rock on the east side of the valley. And whether -- whether that swept away and took the dock out and plugged up the boat harbor and wrecked the ferry terminal float and caused a 26-foot-high tidal wave --

whether -- whether that was all caused by work that was being done at the railroad dock -- they were building a new dock there at the time. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: Or whether that was an underwater landslide, which the engineering company tried to claim that it was.

Um, I’m not -- I had some intimate knowledge of the information that was out there at the time, and all I can say is that, it’s not for me to decide what really happened there.

But I think that generally speaking, most of the people are confident that there was a slippage of the east wall of the -- by the railroad dock. What caused it, I don’t know.

KAREN BREWSTER: But it was underwater? STAN SELMER: Well, it -- KAREN BREWSTER: Or -- STAN SELMER: -- it was underwater eventually. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. STAN SELMER: Um.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is that that big scar on the hillside you see? STAN SELMER: No. No. KAREN BREWSTER: No, that's something different? STAN SELMER: That’s separate. That’s -- that's an issue that came to light this year. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: Rockslide has always come down there, but this year it came down several times, and there were days where the cruise ships couldn’t dock.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. Because of the danger of falling rock? STAN SELMER: Danger of falling rock, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh yeah, ‘cause it’s right above there where they would -- STAN SELMER: Where they would dock. KAREN BREWSTER: Dock. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that’s a big change. STAN SELMER: Well, it is. It is. And there's still --

I think they’re still working on it. Maybe they have it resolved now. It’s a big huge retention fence that’s been placed in that chute. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: Not to stop rocks from coming down, but to stop them from causing any damage when they do.

Um, and they’ve done significant engineering work up there to make sure that that rock is not perched up there ready to tumble down, that it’s part of bedrock, essentially.

And I think they’ve determined that. So, there’s still going to be rocks coming down, but I believe their retention fencing is certainly intended not to have any of it come down and hit the dock or the ships or --

KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. And has that area -- you said it’s always slid, even when you were a kid? STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is it from an avalanche? STAN SELMER: Um-hm. It’s just a talus slope that slides down. We’ve got ‘em at the north end of town, as well. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: That up by the Gold Rush Cemetery, there’s -- there's several talus slides up there that come down. And the city has blocked one off, and it’s worked rather well. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: You still will go down there at the odd time, and there’ll be a big rock out in the middle of the road that drives all the tour buses by. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, man. STAN SELMER: But nobody’s been hit by one. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s good.

STAN SELMER: The railroad has not been hit by one, and they go through there all the time, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And yeah, so that hasn’t changed? That’s always been a thing? STAN SELMER: Yeah.

And this one has always been, too, it just, um, I don’t know, it probably was in the ‘80’s, I was in charge of a crew that was welding a pipeline that had been broken by the rockslide that came down.

So, I mean, it -- it's --certainly had a life before the ‘80’s, but in the ‘80’s, we’re still talking at 35 years now. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: So it’s not -- nothing new. KAREN BREWSTER: Nothing new, no.

Talking about, you know, well, you mentioned the ice damming. STAN SELMER: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: And the frazil ice on the river, so um, does the river typically freeze up? Either Skagway and the Dyea/Taiya Rivers?

STAN SELMER: Um, I don’t want to answer about the Taiya River because I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t follow that at all. I don’t -- KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. Just talk about what you know, then.

STAN SELMER: And the Skagway River, from when I was a kid. When I was a kid, we used to ice skate down the Skagway River. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: I don’t know the last time I saw that river where you could ice skate down it. And I don’t -- I don’t put that on the Goat Lake water temperature.

I don’t put that on, um, anything, it’s just temperatures haven’t been cold enough.

There’s no -- there’s no question that when I was a youngster we would have days of below-zero weather. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: Every winter.

And the coldest temperature I ever saw in Skagway was twenty-six below. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STAN SELMER: I don’t think we’ve had more than ten below since 1990, probably 1991. 1990 or ’91, we moved into this house, and the weekend that we moved into this house, the temperature reached ten below one day, and that’s the coldest it’s been in -- KAREN BREWSTER: Since -- STAN SELMER: Twenty-eight years.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That’s a big difference. STAN SELMER: Um-hm, it is. Yep.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Um, and so, the timing of -- well, I don’t know about -- in other places, I’d say the timing of freeze-up and break-up.

I don’t know if it -- it’s the same terminology works here?

STAN SELMER: I -- no. I mean, you couldn’t -- I don’t know, which is it, the Nenana or the Tanana River have a pool that they -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STAN SELMER: Make every year? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, the Tanana. STAN SELMER: Tanana.

At Skagway, you could never do that. Because, I mean, if the frazil ice is an issue, and the ice dams breaking, I mean, it’s going to go out three times a winter. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok. STAN SELMER: And there’s no --

KAREN BREWSTER: But when you were a kid, it didn’t. It froze and stayed? STAN SELMER: It froze and stayed, and there was --

there was a time where it, you know, the ice would melt from the top down, and you would go out there one day and you'd be able to look down and see that the river was either high or low underneath it. So, but --

KAREN BREWSTER: When you were a kid, did big chunks break off and float down? STAN SELMER: Not that I ever remember. KAREN BREWSTER: It was always just that sort of melting in place? STAN SELMER: Yep. Yep. Yep.

KAREN BREWSTER: And even when you were a kid, there was ice damming problems? . STAN SELMER: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No? STAN SELMER: No. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s a more recent thing? STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that’s potentially related to Goat Lake? STAN SELMER: It could -- it could be related to the water temperature that comes out of Goat Lake.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok. So before the hydro project, the water coming down would have been the same temperature? STAN SELMER: Yeah. But it would have been colder. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: It would've been colder.

And uh, I mean, I did some studying of frazil ice back in the day, but I can’t remember what I -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: -- what I -- I mean, I wasn't doing it for any other reason than we just worried that did we need to have patrols out watching the -- watching for ice dams breaking?

You know, and they still have ice dams on the river form every -- ever year. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: I mean, two or three years ago, there was a big one up by my daughter’s place. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STAN SELMER: But it doesn’t -- it didn’t break loose and go down, jam up and start flooding anything.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, but I think of an ice dam is the water backs up behind it. STAN SELMER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you’ve got the flooding problem behind it. STAN SELMER: Right.

KAREN BREWSTER: But that was happening in places where the potential flooding was far enough upriver it didn’t affect town? STAN SELMER: Yes, that’s right. Yep. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

And so did you daughter’s place flood? STAN SELMER: No. Well, it did in ’94, but that had nothing to do with frazil ice. That had to do with high water in October. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And when you were a kid, did you guys have floods? STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah.

Um, fortunately for me, I guess, the biggest flood that they had during my lifetime, uh, was in 1967. And that’s the same year that the -- they had a big flood up in Fairbanks. KAREN BREWSTER: Yep. Yep.

STAN SELMER: And Skagway’s flood, I think, was in September, and the flood in Fairbanks was in the spring. KAREN BREWSTER: No, it was in August. STAN SELMER: August? KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: Ok. Ok.

But anyway, the September flood, I remember I was in Vermont, and I heard on the radio, ABC News was on saying, well, we have a second flood in Alaska. And this one’s in a little town of Skagway.

And they talked to the local guy who was head of the emergency services for the town, and uh, they talked about the bridge being gone.

Well, I couldn’t figure out how the Skagway River Bridge could be gone. And it wasn’t. It was the West Creek Bridge over in Dyea. But both rivers had flooded.

But I’ve heard stories that they were floating boxes of dynamite down the Skagway River to blow up logjams that had formed -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STAN SELMER: Downstream.

Whether that’s true or not, I’ve never researched it enough to know, but I know that it was a huge flood. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STAN SELMER: But it didn’t come into town and cause any damage that I’m aware of. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, it didn’t? STAN SELMER: No.

KAREN BREWSTER: So when you talk about the Skagway River Bridge, is that -- STAN SELMER: That’s the one that’s 23rd Avenue. KAREN BREWSTER: So the one up the -- then you go over to Dyea on that? STAN SELMER: You cross the Skagway River Bridge -- KAREN BREWSTER: So just before Jewell Gardens? That -- STAN SELMER: That’s the bridge. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: You cross that, and you hit Jewell Gardens. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Ok. Just wanted to make sure I knew which bridge you were talking about. STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um, and that other people would know. And the West Creek Bridge is out Dyea Road? STAN SELMER: Right. You cross the Taiya River on a steel bridge, one-lane steel bridge.

And then you go about another mile, and you cross the West Creek Bridge, that goes across the West Creek finger to the Taiya River. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

Well, the other thing you said you ice skated when you were a kid. You guys did a lot of sledding? Was there a lot of snow that you could do that when you were kids? STAN SELMER: Um-hm. Yeah.

We got towed behind cars on sleds, and, uh, we had ice skating rinks that you would -- that would freeze up and hold.

In fact, my dad, my dad played hockey when he was a kid here because the ice would stay. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: But we -- I guess I was probably fourteen or fifteen when I was at my skating best, and the skating rink was down by Fifth Avenue, Fourth Avenue -- between Fourth and Fifth.

And it would freeze, and it would stay frozen for weeks on end. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: And they would add more water to it as it got colder just to make sure that it -- ice skater guys didn’t go out and cut the ice and put bumps in it or anything.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Do you remember when that stopped happening? STAN SELMER: No, I don’t.

I remember being challenged by a city council member’s daughter that they could skate faster than me, and I think that was my first term of mayor. So that would have been in the late ‘80’s.

And the skating rink was up at, um, like 17th Avenue. And uh, she beat me, by the way.

But that ice skating rink stayed frozen that winter for a period of time. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: I don’t remember how long it was.

And then the city put one in over by the Rec Center. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STAN SELMER: And I don’t know if that’s been used in the last few years because the weather hasn’t been cold enough to keep it frozen.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, and that’s what I figured -- You said, you know, that those below-zero temperatures haven’t been since ’90 or ’91, but I was wondering like, how long has it been since you could have a frozen ice rink all year round? STAN SELMER: Yeah. All season round.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that’s what I meant. All winter long. STAN SELMER: All winter ‘round, yeah. Yep. It’s been awhile. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: And I would say the late ‘80’s, early ‘90’s was probably the end of that time. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: Now, I do know they had some hockey games that they played over here on the one that the city has. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: But I don’t think they were very long-lived. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: But you could sure find out from city people.

KAREN BREWSTER: No, it’s just interesting to see, you know, as you say, the temperatures -- there is evidence that the temperatures -- STAN SELMER: Yep. Yep. Have risen. KAREN BREWSTER: Have risen. STAN SELMER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So when that happens, the effects of that, it’s freezing and thawing and --

The other effect is the vegetation. What grows in -- what used to grow here versus maybe what’s now growing? Have you noticed with plants and trees? STAN SELMER: I haven’t been observant in that regard other than I know that the hemlock trees have been impacted by the cruise ship emissions. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: Um, but I don’t know what’s not there naturally because of temperatures and now something new is in its place, um. Yeah, I don’t --

KAREN BREWSTER: But even -- I've -- I’ve heard that even up until World War II there was kind of a forest in town, or there were a lot more trees in town? STAN SELMER: Oh, yeah. But I mean, let’s blame that on people that bought chainsaws. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok.

STAN SELMER: There -- I mean there’s been tons of trees cut in this town. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: And it’s been -- there’s no fault, there’s no blame, it’s just a fact that, you know, well, I need to build my house there, so cut those trees down. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: I mean.

And even houses that have been replaced, they still keep the land bare. I don’t know why, but it’s trees.

I mean, I have some friends who used to come down here from Canada, and this is thirty years ago, and ten years ago, they were just saying how sorry they were to see all the cottonwood trees cut in town because it was such a beautiful town with all the cottonwood trees.

People will argue with you that when the cotton’s flying in the summer time and people are sneezing and gagging from it, that maybe the cottonwoods should all be gone. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: And that’s part of the problem with environmental -- One person’s heat is another person’s freeze. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STAN SELMER: And it’s -- you know, but you’re asking me my thoughts, and I’m giving you mine.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right, well, that’s all I can ask is your thoughts.

But so, cottonwoods are native trees here? STAN SELMER: Yes. Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: And a lack of them is because people have cut them down, not because of the change in temperatures? STAN SELMER: Yeah. Yeah. No.

Out at the north end of town, and I believe it’s -- I believe it’s gone off the face of the earth, but my dad and mom used to drive us out there and show us the biggest cottonwood I’ve ever seen. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STAN SELMER: And it probably was fifteen feet through the butt. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STAN SELMER: There’s bigger ones in the Haines area. I think they still exist. But this one out there was down when I was a kid, but the stump was there.

And now, right now, the biggest cottonwood trees are at the south end of Icy Lake. And they’re probably eight to ten feet through. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. STAN SELMER: They’re big trees. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: Unless they’ve come down. I haven’t been up there for fifteen years, probably.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what about down to the coast? Do cottonwoods grow right on the coast, on the -- or that’s all the Sitka spruce and hemlock?

STAN SELMER: Um, cottonwoods grow wherever they want. I mean, they gotta have a pretty good water source, so you’re gonna -- you’re not gonna find them growing in salt water. But you’re going to find them along the rivers.

You go out here across the Skagway River Bridge and you go down into Seven Pastures, that’s a huge cottonwood forest in there. Not very many evergreens in there. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: Mostly cottonwood.

Um, if you go out and step outside any door here and look at the hillside, and you can see mostly cottonwood and birch are giving us the colors this year. KAREN BREWSTER: The yellow colors. STAN SELMER: Yeah, and this has been one of the best -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, really? STAN SELMER: Brilliant color falls we’ve ever had. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

I wonder why? STAN SELMER: No rain. No wind.

We haven’t had a big windstorm in here for -- Skagway gets a windstorm, and it might last for three or four days. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: We haven’t had a three-four-day windstorm probably since August, maybe. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

And that’s something different? Like, when you were growing up here -- STAN SELMER: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: -- it was typically windy? STAN SELMER: Yeah.

Well, we’ve had -- we’ve had some big winds this year. Don’t get me wrong. We had some big winds during the winter.

But the last -- starting about the fifteenth of August 'til now, it’s just been a really unusual weather pattern. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. STAN SELMER: Just different. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And during --

STAN SELMER: And we’ve had some really hot temperatures, too. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: This is a really -- And there were a number of warm days this year.

KAREN BREWSTER: That fits with the dryness. STAN SELMER: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: But, yeah, I was thinking, Skagway typically can be quite windy. STAN SELMER: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: And that’s sort of been consistent through your life.

Has the direction changed, or anything different with the wind that you’ve noticed? STAN SELMER: No. I mean, we have north wind in the summer; we have north wind in the winter.

In the winter, the north wind is really, really cold. In the summer, the north wind is really, really warm. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STAN SELMER: And --

KAREN BREWSTER: But it’s always been that way. STAN SELMER: Yeah. Always. That’s not a change. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: In the summer time, usually our big wind is south, and in the winter -- in the summer -- winter time, it’s also from the south when we, when it warms up.

When the north wind stops blowing and we get a warm low coming through here, the south wind brings it in. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STAN SELMER: And I don’t know that -- I think this last year, I think we had some heavier winds than we’ve had for a few years, but nothing earth-shattering. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: I mean, no hundred-mile-an-hour winds.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ah, well, we were talking about glaciers. STAN SELMER: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: So, you said you’ve observed change in the glaciers? STAN SELMER: Yeah.

Harding Mountain and Heart Mountain, and I want to make sure that people don’t get confused by Heart Mountain.

There’s two Heart Mountains in Skagway. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STAN SELMER: There’s the Hart Mountain that’s next to Harding, and I believe it’s named after an engineer from during the gold rush days.

And there’s Heart Mountain at the north end of town, that actually has a picture of a human heart when the first snows hit. You can see it. KAREN BREWSTER: So it’s Heart, H-E-A-R-T. STAN SELMER: At the north end. KAREN BREWSTER: At the north end. STAN SELMER: And H-A-R-T -- KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: And it may even be H-A-R-T-T, I’m not sure.

But anyway, the ice receding on Harding and Hart is very profound. You can see all the way to the peak of Harding now, and there’s no glacier ice there. It’s gone.

KAREN BREWSTER: And when you were a kid, it was all covered? STAN SELMER: It was glacier down to -- there’s always been a face there.

I think they misnamed the mountains here. They call this one Face Mountain because it’s a face laying down, looking up. They should’ve named Harding, Face Mountain because it’s got two eyes and a nose looking this way. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STAN SELMER: But, they didn’t ask me to write the history book on mountain names.

But you can see that the glacier is completely gone. There’s no eyes, and there’s no nose. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. STAN SELMER: It’s gone.

Face Mountain used to have little glaciers all the way on the -- near the peak. All the way from the south end to the north end.

And you can now look up at Face Mountain on a clear day, and you can see all the moraines where the glaciers have left.

And they’re a different color rock. Completely different. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STAN SELMER: And that’s just -- I just noticed that this summer. It’s probably been that way for three or four years, but I just noticed it in the last couple months.

I’ve got a couple pictures on my cell phone. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: That I bring out and show people the difference.

KAREN BREWSTER: So has -- has the eroding glaciers -- has the rate of that changed? Increased? STAN SELMER: Well.

KAREN BREWSTER: I mean, obviously it’s changed, so the question’s how fast? STAN SELMER: Yeah. But it happens very slowly, and that’s where I’m remiss in giving you good information.

Because I can remember playing baseball at the field we used to have up by the current Rec Center. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: It was across the street. And there’s now homes there. The city sold all the property for houses.

But I can remember playing baseball there, and you could look up at Face Mountain at a certain time of day, in the evening when the games were going on, and the sun would set. And the sun would set behind a glacier field that came all the way down. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STAN SELMER: And that would be, what? Sixty years ago? Fifty-five years ago? And now there’s no glacier there at all. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: It’s gone. Completely gone.

The loss of the ice on the mount -- on Face Mountain itself, it’s like I woke up this year and it’s gone. And I can’t believe that’s true.

I’ve been looking, and I haven’t found any of my other pictures yet. And I started it this morning, as a matter of fact, to see if I could find other pictures of Face Mountain that I could compare with the ones I took in the last few days. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

STAN SELMER: And the same way with Harding. And I’m sure that I’m going to find that this has been a fairly quick loss of ice. Maybe not so much on Harding, but on Face Mountain, for sure.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what’s quick? Ten years? STAN SELMER: Uh, Harding, that’s probably thirty years. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. STAN SELMER: Face Mountain, three to five. KAREN BREWTSER: Oh, really? STAN SELMER: Something like that. Yeah.

And Harding, depending on the time of year -- Face Mountain, this side of Face Mountain, which would be the east side of Face Mountain, gets a lot more sun than Harding does. KAREN BREWSTER: That makes sense.

STAN SELMER: So, I mean it’s possible that sun heat could erase glaciers from this side of Face. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STAN SELMER: Rather than a speedy evaporation of it on -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

But fifty years ago, it still had the sun, and it didn’t -- STAN SELMER: Right. Right. KAREN BREWSTER: Not go away. STAN SELMER: It still had lots of glacier. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

And you would have that -- you could see both those glaciers in the summer, too, when you were growing up? STAN SELMER: Yes. Yep. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

STAN SELMER: Yeah. And I can remember friends of mine helicoptering up there in the last thirty years, on Harding, and skiing down it in July. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STAN SELMER: I mean, you ski down it in July, you better take up some, uh, what would I say? Whatever -- KAREN BREWSTER: Crampons? STAN SELMER: Crampons, yeah.

You’re going to need crampons rather than any sort of snow skiing, you’ll need some rock climbing --

KAREN BREWSTER: So people used to ski those glaciers, huh? STAN SELMER: They did that summer. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, ok.

STAN SELMER: It was a Norwegian friend of mine, just -- I don’t know how -- there was more than him that went up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. STAN SELMER: But he was a good skier.

And I don’t think -- I know I don’t have any movies of him, but somebody probably does in town, somewhere, coming down you could see him.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow, pretty cool. STAN SELMER: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: I’m going to change tape.