Posts made in November, 2009

The Golden Gate

Posted on Nov 30, 2009 in Other Communities | 0 comments



A bad weekend for the Atlin-Skagway Mail carriers. On the 28th of November 1902, John “Jack” McIntyre and Joseph Abbey and their mail team all drowned while crossing Atlin Lake at the “Golden Gate”. The Golden Gate is a narrow passage leading into Taku Inlet and Atlin, about 42 miles south of Tagish, an area said to have rich deposits of quartz gold.
The photo above shows the tramway that was built to connect the Taku Inlet with Atlin Lake. The little Dutchess engine which sits in Carcross used to be used on this line.

From the Geological Survey of Canada, 1926; ExploreNorth; Graves “On the WP Payroll”; rootsweb postings.

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Bob Oscar Siegrud Selmer Jr.

Posted on Nov 25, 2009 in Skagway families, White Pass & Yukon Route | 1 comment


I met Oscar when we first moved here in April 1998. I was walking down the street and he hailed me from his truck and asked if I needed a ride. I told him no, I was happy walking. I always regretted that, I should have ridden with him then and gotten to know him better than I did. Oscar was born on this day, November 25 1918 in Skagway. He spent most of his life here in Skagway working for White Pass, marrying and having children. After his first wife, Alice died he often visited her grave at the Pioneer Cemetery. Every Memorial Day for many years, Oscar would clean up around her grave, and those of other family members and old friends.

A few years later, Oscar met Judy Camp, a veterinarian whom he had befriended while hiking the trails and picking up trash. He took her with him when he decided to re-measure the width of the valley and tell the new editor his findings. Oscar and Judy also loved singing together and they were married in 1979.
After his White Pass years, Oscar never really retired. He served on the city council a time or two, and ran the senior citizens program for 11 years. He was proud of being “Mr. February” in the “Seniors on the Last Frontier 1988 Calendar,” and even prouder of his senior gold pass to Skagway School activities. He was a lifetime member of the Eagles and Elks, and a member of the Juneau Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska. As Skagway’s longest living resident, he was called on in 1997 to unveil the Centennial Statue, along with members of the valley’s oldest family, the Dennis’s.
Late in life, with his health in decline, Oscar still liked to spend time on the benches downtown or riding around in his cart greeting friends and visitors. He entertained various writers and even joked with one last summer that he might not be home later because he bounced around town “faster than a fart on a skillet.”
If you caught up with him in a restaurant, he usually had an old photo in his pocket and a story to tell over many half cups of coffee. If he got your interest, he might bring along a prop for the next time he saw you.
He died in 2000 and is truly missed by me and many others.

from personal reminiscences and a 2000 “Skagway News” obit.

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Captain John Irving

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 in Merchants | 0 comments


Happy Birthday to John Irving born November 24, 1854 in Portland Oregon. He was an early member of the Arctic Brotherhood in Skagway in 1900 and also a member of the Provincial Government. His navigation business was in the building that is now Richters on Broadway near 2nd.

His wife was Jane Munro daughter of Alexander Munro the Chief Factor of Hudson Bay Company, she probably lived in Victoria. His shipping business was the early main competitor to Capt William Moore on same routes around 1860; in 1882 after Capt Moore lost boats and his Victoria home, Irving hired Moore’s three sons: Billie, Henry and John to be captain, mate & purser on Western Slope sternwheeler.

His boat the “Willie Irving” was said to be the first boat through the Whitehorse Rapids under her own steam. It was built on Lake Bennett 1900, by Alex Watson.

The Captain was also a member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. In his later years Captain Irving lived in a small converted store on West Pender Street in Vancouver. With his tall spruce figure and his white goatee beard he was a very handsome gentleman. His favorite remark when meeting an old friend on the street was “How about a smile?” He died in 1936, poor in everything but friends.

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Thomas Alfred Marquam

Posted on Nov 23, 2009 in Goldrushers, Love Stories, Women | 0 comments


Nicknamed “Fighting Tom,” he was elected to represent Republicans from Skagway and Haines at the 1900 territorial Republican convention in Juneau. He lost his bid to become Alaska’s delegate to the National Republican Convention, but represented Haines as a witness before a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating conditions in Alaska in the summer of 1903.

Tom Marquam came to Skagway with some lawyer friends in 1897 to follow the gold rush as his father had done in 1849 in California. He met a young woman, possibly a prostitute, here and married her. She died a few years later and he then married another prostitute named Ray Alderman pictured above with President Harding.

In 1923, when it became obvious that Dan Sutherland, Alaska’s delegate to Congress, was at odds with the president and would not escort Harding on his visit, Tom happily volunteered to do it himself, with his bride at his side. Harding, a man of the world with a mistress of his own, appreciated the mayor’s pretty wife. He invited the Marquams to accompany him in his private railroad car, and Tom’s appointment as ambassador seemed assured until Harding died less than three weeks later.

Tom Marquam’s death on November 23, 1931, at age fifty-seven was not well explained. One newspaper reported he had died of a heart attack; another referred to several operations and a long illness. There were rumors that he had been murdered and it was also suggested that he had committed suicide in a fit of depression over the still unsettled charges against him.

http://www.alaska.edu/opa/eInfo/index.xml?StoryID=299

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