Yesterday I attended a lecture at the National Park Service by M.J. Kirchhoff on violence on the trails and the Soapy story. There was also a critical review of Spude’s book which many agreed had many false assumptions and mistakes. Mark agreed that Jeff Smith’s book on Soapy is a very good reference for students and historians.
Mark’s new book is called “Dyea, Alaska – The Rise and Fall of a Klondike Gold Rush Town” printed in 2012 and available at the Skagway News Depot in Skagway. I leafed through it and was amazed at the incredible collection of historic photos of Dyea that have never been published before. Also at their clarity and good descriptions. Here is Michael Gates description: “Kirchhoff is a widely respected historian whose previous works include an excellent biography of Jack Dalton as well as Clondyke: The First Year of the Rush… Kirchhoff tackles the overlooked aspects of Alaska and Yukon history and fills in the gaps in our understanding of the North…. Kirchhoff’s book charts the rapid decline of Dyea, and offers an explanation for the eventual death of this once bustling community, but you will have to read the book to learn the answer.”
I was also very flattered that he twice referred to this blog and my research! Wow, I feel a little light headed here!
There was some interest in numbers of deaths during the 1897-1899 period from various causes, so I will compile that data later today and do a review on that too.
Me looking surprised….
I love to get photos of historic things from followers! Here are three photos of matches which were sold as fundraisers for boys in the inner city to help fund their trip to Alaska with George Buchanan back in the 1930’s. They funded their trip by selling kitchen items to earn 1/3 of the money, 1/3 was given by Mr. Buchanan and 1/3 was contributed by the parents. Buchanan loved Alaska and presumably felt that exposing the boys to the great state would expand their view of the world. I wonder if it worked! There are also some items on display in the White Pass Depot.
When riding the train to the summit, the train agents will point out across the valley the words “On to Alaska with Buchanan” painted on the rock wall.
Thanks to Scott Cummings for the photos!
I read recently in our local newspaper that the city had quietly decided to purchase the old city hall on 5th Avenue which had been for sale for some time. Like many old buildings it had fallen into disrepair and being in the historic district, it would require extensive work to make it usable as a business, yet would be under many restrictions since it is a historical building. So I am so glad that the city has purchased it and will see that it is preserved in the same manner and with the same care that the Park Service has maintained the other historical buildings downtown. Seen above is the building as photographed by the Park Service, Karl Gurcke, in 2003. Seen below is the only interior photo taken by Hegg in 1898 showing the great leaders of town in discussions. George Brackett is on the far right with the long beard.
Apparently there were two Reverends named C.W. Ruth. One was Charles W. Ruth and the other was Christian Wismer Ruth. In the October 3, 1905 edition of the Skagway newspaper (viewable at the NPS library here in town). That article mentions Rev. C.W. Ruth, an evangelist who was preaching at the Peniel Mission. I earlier posted a picture of a group of evangelists in the Peniel Mission in Skagway and I guessed that one of the men might be the Rev. C. W. Ruth. Christian was born September 1st, 1865, in Hilltown township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Both his father and mother were devoted and consistent Christians. C. W. Ruth was one of the ten founding fathers of the Church of the Nazarene. Ruth grew up in Indianapolis, and from an early age was an evangelist for the Holiness Christian Church. In 1902 Ruth merged the Spokane, Washington holiness churches of the People’s Mission into the Church of the Nazarene. He was considered a conservative, who also thought unity was the most important issue facing the Church of the Nazarene during the turn of the century. I believe that it was Christian who visited Skagway because he said, “I traveled more than one hundred and fifty thousand miles filling my engagements, and have labored in thirty-three states and Canada, among twenty-five different denominations”. Many thanks to Deborah Ruth, a descendent for additional information on C.W. as posted on her blog!
In the summer in Skagway the best free tour is the ranger led walking tour of downtown. They leave about every hour, just like Old Faithful, and the groups are limited to 30, so people have to go in and get a free ticket for the next available walk. As you can see from their attire, a cool windy day is not uncommon and so a light wind breaker and rain hat is a good idea. If you’re lucky you may get a smart and handsome ranger like Arlen!
A cool photo from the 1950-60’s shows the Mission School with the 5 long buildings in the middle of the picture. I put a little red arrow pointing to the location of our house (for sale, by the way). Two blocks south of the Mission School, is the old Skagway School building on what is now the field next to the Rec Center. Although the Catholic Church still owns the property between Main and State and 15th and 17th, it is leased to someone who runs the Garden City RV park. Over the years there has been talk of the Municipality buying the property from the Catholic Church. My personal opinion is that it should be bought and developed as a large housing complex with units designed for all levels of income – efficiencies to 3 bedroom units. A good architect could make a beautiful project that would really enhance the town. As it is now, the RV park is half filled with old trailers that seasonal workers live in during the summer. During the winter when anyone is coming to town to work there are no homes to rent since many are boarded up. In the summer, the housing crunch is terrible with many just living in the woods in a wet soggy tent.
Here is another great old photo taken by Case & Draper in Skagway harbor in 1905. It too was sold recently for a few dollars, here was the description:
“The Alaska Steamship Company’s SS DOLPHIN Is shown arriving in Juneau August 17, 1905. Admeasured at 824 gross tons, the SS DOLPHIN was built in 1892 at Wilmington, Delaware. The ship was 225 feet in length with a 40 foot beam and displaced 1500 tons. She had twin screws turned by triple expansion steam engines. The ship originally carried the names AL FOSTER and THE FOSTER and was used as a club boat to carry fishing parties on Long Island Sound. Alaska Steam purchased the ship in 1900 and brought her to Alaska by sailing her around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America. This tumultuous voyage featured a 21 day passage from St. Lucia in the West Indies to Montevideo, Uruguay; a horrific storm off the Rio de la Plata; a confrontation with the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego who tried to burn the ship; and a mutiny by the steward’s department in Coronel, Chile. After the ship took on coal for her boilers in Coronel, six mutineers were left ashore in the local jail. The ship operated from Puget Sound to Southeast Alaska. She was able to carry 150 first-class passengers and 200 second-class passengers and 600 tons of cargo. The DOLPHIN was famous for carrying gold south from Skagway and for racing other steamers from rival companies through Lynn Canal. Alaska Steam operated the ship from 1900 to 1917 when she was sold. Eventually the ship was reported to have found her way back to Chile ending her days as a gunboat operated by the Chilean Navy.”