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Bar Hunting in Alaska : From Fishing Village to Mining Camp to Metropolis, Local Watering Holes Capture State's 'Work Hard, Play Hard' Tradition

February 06, 1994|JOHN GOTTBERG ANDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER; Anderson is news and graphics editor for The Times Travel section and author of "Frommer's Alaska '94-'95."

* Red Dog Saloon, Juneau. Among the old firearms behind the bar is a gun that Wyatt Earp supposedly deposited on his way to the gold fields in the 1890s . . . and never reclaimed. Overhead, amid other marine memorabilia autographed by ships' crews, is a flag from the infamous Exxon Valdez; management swears it's the banner the ill-fated tanker was flying when it ran aground in Prince William Sound in 1989. Indeed, the decor of the venerable Red Dog--one of the first places cruise-ship passengers see when they alight in the state capital--reflects a century of Alaskan whimsy and history. Though it has changed location several times, this friendly saloon still boasts decor straight out of a taxidermist's shop. But the argonauts of yesteryear didn't have a bustling souvenir shop or the adjoining Cook House restaurant, which re-creates a turn-of-the-century mining camp atmosphere. (The menu offers what may be the state's biggest hamburger: two pounds, served on a pizza-size bun with two pounds of French fries on the side for $13.95.)

* Red Onion Saloon, Skagway. Many moons have passed since this former brothel served its customers more than drinks, but cutouts of scantily clad young women still peer through the red-lit upstairs windows, overlooking what was once the main route to the Klondike Gold Rush; monogrammed garters are the best-selling souvenir. The Red Onion has live jazz frequently, honky-tonk piano and jukebox always, and dancing wherever patrons find floor space. It serves huge deli-style sandwiches at lunch, too. Like many other establishments in tourism-oriented Skagway, the Red Onion closes for the winter.


Alaskan Saloons

All area codes are 907:

Bird House Bar, Mile 26.5 Seward Highway, Indian; no phone.

Chilkoot Charlie's, 2435 Spenard Road, Anchorage; tel. 272-1010.

Fly by Night Club, 3300 Spenard Road, Anchorage; tel. 279-7726.

Howling Dog Saloon, Mile 11.5 Steese Highway, Fox; tel. 457-8780.

Kito's Kave, Sing Lee Alley and Chief John Lott Street, Petersburg; tel. 772-3207.

Malemute Saloon, Ester Gold Camp, Ester; tel. 479-2500.

Red Dog Saloon, 278 S. Franklin St., Juneau; tel. 463-3777.

Red Onion Saloon, Broadway and Second Avenue, Skagway; tel. 983-2222.

Salty Dawg, Spit Road, Homer; no phone.

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