An ironic story. In 1899 White Pass had a strike by its workers wanting some basic worker’s rights-a long history of issues preceded this event. (Minter, in his book The White Pass describes those.)
The leader of the strike was a young man born on October 10, 1879 in Reading, England, John Robert White. He had joined the Greek Foreign Legion in 1897 and then came to Alaska in 1899. In Skagway, the confrontation with White Pass Engineer Mike Heney and Dr. Whiting resulted in Dr. Whiting striking White on the head with a shovel. White was sent to Sitka and jailed for 6 months.
After that, White joined the military and served with the 4th Infantry in the Phillipines where he rose to the rank of Colonel. He retired from the U.S. military in 1914 and went to Europe and served for the Red Cross and the new Rockefeller Foundation (establishing medical proceedurs). He then joined the A.E.F. in WW 1.
Now here begins the ironic part:
In 1920 he joins the U.S. National Park Service. He started as ranger, then chief ranger, then Superintendent of such parks as Grand Canyon, Sequoia, and Death Valley. He then became Regional Director of two regions in the Park Service in 1940-41. White died in Napa, California in 1961 at the age of 82.
Today in Skagway the White Pass and National Park work amicably together, unaware of the history of John Robert White.
The photo above shows the Washington staff of the National Park Service in uniform in 1926. Left to right: Arno B. Cammerer, assistant director; Harry Karstens, superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park; Stephen T. Mather, director; Charles G. Thompson, superintendent of Crater Lake National Park; Horace M. Albright, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park; John R. White, superintendent of Sequoia National Park; Arthur E. Demaray, assistant director; Ernest Leavitt, assistant superintendent of Yosemite National Park; W. B. Lewis, superintendent of Yosemite National Park.
(This is from the John Robert White papers collection at the University of Oregon.)