Archie McLean Hawks

Archie McLean Hawks was born in Detroit in 1865 to a family with a long history of law and engineering. In 1886 he came west and worked as a construction engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad in Wyoming and Colorado. He later worked on the bridge in Kansas City and the waterworks in St. Louis. He worked in Arkansas and later Denver on electric railways. In 1891 he went to Tacoma and became the engineer in charge of the Tacoma Light and Water Company. He worked as an engineering consultant for the cities of Vancouver, Victoria and Juneau to supply hydroelectric power for the mines at Treadwell, Perseverence, and Sea Level Tunnel.
Hawks wrote a book called “Enchantment,” that described his 1870 train trip from St. Louis, Mo. to Bristol, R.I.

He is known in Skagway for being the Engineer for the CR&T Tramway which was on the Chilkoot Trail. The Chilkoot Railroad and Transport Company (CR&T) was the largest, most comprehensive, and last of the Chilkoot Trail tramways to be constructed.

At first, they toyed with a horse-drawn tramroad and even a railroad going straight up the Taiya River valley, but financial restraints tempered these plans. The company settled on a wagon road to Canyon City, a two-stage aerial tram system (Canyon City to Sheep Camp and Sheep Camp to Stone Crib), and contracted packing services from Stone Crib to Lake Lindeman. This system enabled the company to be the first to offer an integrated transportation option that would transfer prospectors’ gear from the wharfs of Dyea to Lindeman City.

Construction began in December 1897 and both trams began running by May 1898. While CR&T merged with the Alaska Railroad Transportation Company and the Dyea-Klondike Transportation Company just a month after CR&T opened its trams, its infrastructure was heavily used well into June 1899 when the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad construction reached Lake Bennett in British Columbia effectively rendering CR&T obsolete. Even then, however, CR&T’s freight rates were comparable to those of the railroad and so in 1899 White Pass and Yukon Route purchased the Chilkoot Railroad and Transportation Company’s trams and began dismantling them beginning in January 1900 and finishing by April of the same year.

Archie Hawks died on this day, March 8, 1963 in Santa Barbara at the ripe old age of 98. He is buried in the Madronia Cemetery in Santa Clara County.

A History of the Puget Sound County, 1903 online; Martinsen; California death index; the Winterthur Papers online

Unsolved Murder

A miner named P.C. Bean (sometimes referred to as H.W. Bean) was found on the trail near Porcupine Hill. He had been shot. This murder was never solved but it did inspire Skagway residents to form the Committee of 101 Citizens. His body was buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery. There is very little information about him despite the fact that he sparked a big reaction in town.

The photo above is of some gold-rushers on the Porcupine Trail near Skagway.

Skagway death record; Aunt Phil’s Trunk by Phyllis Downing Carlson; Victoria Colonist online March 16, 1898.

Oscar W. Dunbar

Happy Birthday to Oscar Dunbar, born on the day, March 6, 1849 in Salem Oregon. In 1878 he married an English lady, Mary Agnes Thomas in San Francisco and they settled in Oregon. Their daughter Clara Agnes was born in Portland in 1881.
They all came to Skagway in 1898 and Oscar published the Alaska Travelers Guide and was the publisher of the Skagway Daily Alaskan from 1899 through 1900 when his daughter took over the publication of the paper until 1904 or so.
They moved back to Pendleton, Oregon where Oscar died in 1904.

The Skagway Alaskan newspaper is published in Skagway today (resurrected in 1978 by Jeff Brady). Copies are given to each passenger that gets off a cruise ship in summer by local “newsies” dressed in period costume. That newspaper has interesting stories of Skagway as well as advertisements and coupons. In addition, there is another real newspaper that is published every two weeks which details the drama of life in Skagway. Available at the News Depot bookstore for only $1, the police blotter and the Heard on the Wind sections are always worth the price!

Seen above are the “newsies” that distributed the original paper.

1900 census;1902 directory;family chron; Haigh; familysearch.

Arthur Clarence Pillsbury

Although you may not have heard his name, you most likely have seen one of his panoramic photos. Mr. Pillsbury was born in 1870 in Medford, Massachusetts. He attended Stanford University majoring in mechanical engineering and opened a shop in Oakland for bicycles, motorcycles and photography.

Arthur Pillsbury began his career in 1887 after inventing an early version of the Cirkut Camera. He used this panoramic camera to photograph Yosemite and the Yukon. In 1909 he filmed the first nature film of Yosemite and showed it at his studio in Yosemite. He had a business called Pillsbury & Cleveland. He invented cameras but did not patent them, saying he wanted them to be available to everybody. When he worked in Skagway in 1900, his company was the Alaska View and Photo Company. Here he is perched on a cliff, probably in Yosemite!

He died on this day, March 5, 1946 in Oakland, California.

1898-1900 online website: Tappan Adney; Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation.

Max Gutfeldt

Max Gutfeldt ran the Vienna bakery from about 1905 through 1920 in what is now the Historic Skagway Inn. He was born in 1868 in Germany and his was one of the few Jewish families in Skagway. After his first wife Emma died in Tacoma, Washington in 1901, he remarried in 1903 and moved his family to Skagway.
Max was a City Councilman in 1913 and signed a letter to the Governor of Alaska in May 1915 requesting a road. Ethyl and sons Louis and Arnold worked in Skagway. Arnold was later in the U.S. Signal Corps and Louis signed up for the World War one draft. Both died after spending much of their careers working for the railroad.
Max died on January 8, 1923 in Tacoma.

1905 and 1915 directories, 1910 and 1920 and 1929 censuses; Newspaper record NPS files; Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State online; Washington state records.

Sophie Fincke Keith

Sophie Fincke was born on this day, March 2, 1861 in Germany. She came to Skagway and married Phillip Sydney Keith on March 12, 1900 here in Skagway. She is known to have been a “matchmaker” having brought together Antoinette and Peter Edward Kern in 1902 here in Skagway. Seen above is the wedding photo – probably at Moore’s home. Mrs. Keith is sitting to the right of the bride with a big grin on her face.
The Keith’s moved to Dawson where Sophie had a son named Elmo. They moved to Fairbanks but Elmo died there at the age of 11. Sophie died in 1937 at the age of 76.

AK Archives photos of Moore collection; familysearch

Mary Ellen/Elizabeth Higgins Hitchcock

Mary Higgins was born on this day March 1, 1849 in Baltimore Maryland or Virginia or Brooklyn, New York. In any event she was from a very wealthy family and married U.S. Navy Commander Roswell D. Hitchcock in 1871. He died in 1892 leaving her a bored and wealthy widow.
She was an eccentric writer who came to Alaska three times with her friend Edith Van Buren (grand-neice of President Van Buren), the last in 1899. Later that year she wrote a book entitled “Two Women in the Klondike” of her adventures with Edith and their two great dane dogs, Ivan and Queen, a dozen pigeons, two canaries and a parrot. I have read this account of their hardships (having to wait all morning for the warm water for their manicures) and having to discipline the insubordinate “servants” that they encountered. It would be funny except that I’m sure that their fellow travelers were not amused.
When they finally got to Skagway on their way south, they stayed at Brannick’s Hotel that had a 4-poster bed with spring mattresses, sheets and pillowcases.
They went to an oyster bar for dinner (beer, ten cents) and took the City of Topeka steamer south the next day.
She had her portrait done with Ivan, seen above. She felt she had endured great hardships, and told stories of her adventures back in Amityville, New York where she died in 1920 at the age of 71.

nytimes article 8/22/1899;; Two Women in the Klondike by Hitchcock.