The Story Behind This Haunted Cemetery in Alaska is Terrifying

Alaska is a land of mystery and beauty, but also of tragedy and horror. Among the many haunted places in the state, one stands out for its gruesome history and chilling atmosphere: the Slide Cemetery in Dyea, near Skagway. This ghost town cemetery is the final resting place of dozens of prospectors who perished in a massive avalanche in 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush. Their spirits are said to haunt the area, along with other paranormal phenomena. Here is the story behind this haunted cemetery in Alaska, and why it is so terrifying.

The Klondike Gold Rush and the Chilkoot Trail

The Klondike Gold Rush was a frenzy of gold-seeking that attracted thousands of people from all over the world to the Yukon Territory in Canada, where gold was discovered in 1896. To reach the gold fields, most of the prospectors had to pass through Alaska, and take one of two routes: the White Pass or the Chilkoot Trail. Both were treacherous and dangerous, but the Chilkoot Trail was shorter and cheaper, so it became the more popular choice.

The Chilkoot Trail was a 33-mile-long trail that started in Dyea, a boomtown near Skagway, and ended in Lake Bennett, where the prospectors could build boats and sail to the Klondike. The trail was divided into four sections, each with its own challenges and hazards. The most difficult and notorious section was the last one, known as the Golden Stairs, where the trail climbed steeply over the Chilkoot Pass, reaching an elevation of 3,500 feet. The prospectors had to carry their supplies and equipment, weighing at least 2,000 pounds, over the pass, making multiple trips back and forth. It was a grueling and exhausting task, that could take weeks or months to complete.

The Palm Sunday Avalanche

The winter of 1897-1898 was particularly harsh and snowy, creating unstable conditions on the Chilkoot Trail. The prospectors were warned by the local Tlingit natives and the experienced sourdoughs (old-timers) to avoid traveling on the trail when the weather was warm and sunny, as it increased the risk of avalanches. However, many of the prospectors were impatient and eager to reach the gold fields, and ignored the warnings.

On April 3, 1898, a Sunday, the weather was clear and warm, and hundreds of prospectors were on the trail, especially on the Golden Stairs. Around 4 p.m., a series of avalanches started to occur, triggered by the melting snow and the vibrations from the human activity. The largest and most devastating avalanche swept down from the summit of the pass, burying the trail and everything on it under 30 to 50 feet of snow. It was later estimated that between 60 and 100 people were killed by the avalanche, making it one of the worst disasters in Alaska’s history.

The Slide Cemetery

The bodies of the victims were recovered from the snow over the next few days, with the help of dogs and volunteers. Some of the bodies were mutilated and disfigured by the force of the avalanche, and some were never found. The bodies were transported to Dyea, where they were buried in a mass grave, in a cemetery that became known as the Slide Cemetery. The cemetery was located on a hillside, overlooking the town and the trail. Wooden crosses and headstones were erected to mark the graves, some with names and dates, some with only numbers or initials.

The Slide Cemetery soon became a place of sorrow and mourning, as well as a reminder of the dangers and hardships of the gold rush. Many of the prospectors who survived the avalanche or arrived later visited the cemetery to pay their respects to the fallen, or to look for their friends or relatives among the dead. Some of the visitors reported feeling a sense of unease and sadness in the cemetery, as if the spirits of the victims were still lingering there, restless and unhappy.

The Haunting of the Slide Cemetery

Over the years, the Slide Cemetery became a subject of fascination and fear for the locals and the visitors alike. Many stories and legends emerged about the haunting of the cemetery, and the paranormal phenomena that occurred there. Some of the stories and sightings include:

  • The sound of moaning, crying, or screaming coming from the cemetery, especially at night or during storms.
  • The appearance of ghostly figures, dressed in old-fashioned clothing, walking among the graves or on the trail, sometimes disappearing into thin air or into the snow.
  • The feeling of being watched, followed, or touched by unseen presences, or of being pushed or pulled by invisible forces.
  • The smell of rotting flesh, blood, or sulfur in the air, or the taste of metal or salt in the mouth.
  • The malfunctioning of electronic devices, such as cameras, phones, or flashlights, or the interference of radio or TV signals, near the cemetery.
  • The occurrence of nightmares, visions, or hallucinations, related to the avalanche or the gold rush, after visiting the cemetery.
  • The manifestation of physical injuries, such as scratches, bruises, or burns, on the body, after visiting the cemetery.

The Ghost Town of Dyea

The Slide Cemetery is not the only haunted place in the area. The town of Dyea, where the cemetery is located, is also a ghost town, abandoned and forgotten by most. Dyea was once a thriving and bustling town, with a population of over 10,000 people, and a variety of businesses and services, such as hotels, saloons, stores, banks, churches, and newspapers. It was the main gateway to the Klondike, and the starting point of the Chilkoot Trail.

However, Dyea’s prosperity was short-lived, as the gold rush faded and the railroad was built through the rival town of Skagway, making the Chilkoot Trail obsolete. By 1900, most of the people had left Dyea, and the town gradually declined and decayed. By the 1950s, Dyea was almost completely deserted, with only a few buildings and structures remaining, such as the old wharf, the post office, the church, and the cemetery.

Today, Dyea is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and is open to visitors who want to explore its history and its hauntings. The cemetery is still there, although some of the graves have been lost or damaged by the elements, the animals, or the vandals. The cemetery is a silent and eerie witness to the past, and a chilling attraction for the curious and the brave.


The Slide Cemetery in Dyea, Alaska, is one of the most haunted cemeteries in the state, and in the country. It is the burial site of dozens of prospectors who died in a horrific avalanche in 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush. Their spirits are said to haunt the cemetery, and the nearby ghost town of Dyea, where they once lived and dreamed of gold. The cemetery is a place of tragedy and terror, but also of history and mystery. It is a place that deserves respect and caution, as well as fascination and wonder. It is a place that will terrify you, but also intrigue you. It is a place that you will never forget.

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