The Railroad Restaurant

In the same newspaper was an ad for John William’s “Railroad Restaurant” that had meals from 25 cents and up and that seated 50-60 people. They also had “private rooms” for ladies. The building that housed the restaurant still stands, it is part of the Richter’s store across the street from AB Hall. It was called the John Irving Building:
“British Columbia steamboat pioneer, John Irving, built this two-story false-fronted wood frame structure during the rush to Atlin in 1899. The John Irving Navigation Company, which operated a system of steamboats and a railroad from Bennett to Atlin, had a ticket office on the first floor as did Canadian Pacific Navigation. After the Atlin rush, the building became the Railroad Restaurant. After 1910 the Grand Truck Pacific Railway opened a ticket office for its steamships. In the 1930s the building became a part of Richter’s curio shop, the present occupant.”
Seen above, the 1910 is for the Richter’s Store, as the building is actually a gold rush building.

Joseph Dewitt Matlock

Born on this day, March 8, 1839 in Benton County Tennessee, Joseph grew up in a large farming family in Tennessee and Missouri. The family crossed the country in an ox-driven covered wagon in 1853 on the Oregon Trail and they settled in Pendleton, Oregon. His brothers all had ranches and became involved in politics.
He joined the gold rush in January, 1898, going first to Skagway, after which he engaged in business at Lake Bennett, British Columbia, for two years. He sold out there with the intention of moving his stock to Dawson and proceeded down the Yukon river, taking his goods with him on flatboats. While en route he lost about two thousand dollars through the sinking of a boat in a storm, for, although he succeeded in raising the boat, the stock was almost worthless. In Dawson he again embarked in general merchandising but after eighteen months closed out his store there and returned to Eugene, making the trip down the Yukon river to St. Michael and thence to Nome.
His brother William stayed in Skagway a little longer establishing the Idaho Saloon, the Midway Saloon, and was president of the Skagway Brewing Co. Saloon but he also left for the Yukon in 1899 and later returned to Pendleton, Oregon.
Joseph died in 1921 in Lane County, Oregon at the age of 82 surrounded by his 12 children. William also died there in 1914.

Seen above is the corner of 3rd and Broadway, the building on the corner, across the street from the Golden North and next to the Sweet Tooth Cafe is the building which once housed the Idaho Saloon.

Gaston, Joseph. “The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912.” Vol. 4. Chicago, Clarke Publishing Co., 1912. p. 355; Oregon death index.

Skagway Fire!

Apparently last night at 11 pm a fire broke out in the 600 wing of the Westmark hotel – the building next to Diamonds International. As I write this, there is still smoke coming from the ruins. The volunteer fire department has been up all night fighting it and has successfully stopped it from going further.
Jeff Brady has some great pictures of 20 foot flames shooting out the roof and he said that this Friday’s paper will have the whole story. The offices of the Skagway Jewelry Company, Avis and M&M tour sales are completely gutted. Water from the sprinklers in the Diamonds International Store is flooding out the doors. The store will need extensive repairs to reopen in May. Photo by Reed McCluskey.

The Hoff & Gem Saloon

Happy Birthday to John Cassius Hoff born on this day, March 5, 1875 on the family farm in Dallas County, Iowa. He was one of 8 children and in 1897 he and his older brother, Oscar or “Shorty” decided to come up to Alaska for the gold rush. They apparently traveled with Jack London for 6 months and they operated a freight and transportation company bringing fresh fruit, eggs and other staples up to the gold country from the coast, rather than mining. He returned in 1898 to Des Moines, IA with $2,000 in gold and some great stories. His older brother, “Shorty” remained in Skagway long enough to start the “Hoff & Gem Saloon” and then left for Canada in 1898. John returned to Iowa, ran the family farm and died there in 1960.

I don’t know if the Hoff & Gem ever produced tokens (they were a lot easier than measuring gold dust for drinks) but here is one example of a Skagway token, for the Idaho Saloon.

John Scott Hoff family information on
Smith p. 461 of “Alias Soapy Smith”

William Herrmann Shape

William Shape was born on this day, March 1, 1867 in Milwaukee to a hard working Wisconsin family. His mother and father were from Germany and his father ran a beer bottling plant. The middle child of a brood of 8, he was well schooled and had traveled widely in Europe before he left his wife and two children to seek even greater wealth in the Klondike.

His journal was discovered in a California flea market nearly a hundred years after the Klondike gold rush. The journal and photographs give a very human dimension to the journey undertaken by vast hordes of prospectors who headed north in the gold rush. Shape recorded the daily hardships and dangers as well as the sights and smells of mining camps, the grind of overland treks, and the personal quirks of the people he encountered.
He went over the Chilkoot and down the Yukon River, prospecting up the Stewart River in 1898, followed by his exit trip out over the Dalton Trail in August and September. Though poorer monetarily for his experience, Shape came out healthy, 26 pounds heavier, and stated that he would gladly make the trip again, provided next time he could turn a profit. He must have returned to Milwaukee and lived out his life there. (His father’s company of Voechting, Shape & Co was incorporated into Schlitz Beer in 1885 or so.)

Polly the Parrot

Although I have blogged about Polly before with a real picture of her, here is a picture of her gravestone. They claimed she was born in 1850 and died in 1972 but I have a hard time believing that. Since she was just a bird she did not have a birth certificate to prove she was born then, but who knows? She lived in the Carcross Bar/Hotel from 1918 when left there by the owner who died on the Princess Sophia. I talked to some folks who remembered her and said she was green and said naughty things, but they could not remember what exactly…..

photo by Reed McCluskey

E.A. Harnson

Mr. Harnson was a business associate of H.R. Latimer who was the director of the Horton Bank in Seattle. (Dexter Horton Bank, the first bank in Seattle, became Seafirst Bank and is now Bank of America).
Harnson was presumably from Braddock, Pennsylvania and died on this day, July 27, 1904 (June 29, 1904 according to the Washington records) in the Golden North Hotel in Skagway of heart failure. His body was shipped back to Bradford, or Braddock,  Pennsylvania for burial. Curiously, his friend’s employer, Dexter Horton the epitome of a rags-to-riches pioneer, died the next day, in his Seattle home on July 28, 1904.
I have never heard of a ghost in the Golden North, aside from the made-up story of Mary the ghost.

Skagway Death Record (E.L. Hanson) ; Washington death record online (E.A. Harnson)

Edward Howard Hatch

Ed Hatch was born in 1872 in West Farmington, Ohio. He came to Skagway from Port Angeles, Washington in 1897 and was Secretary for the Brackett Road as well as a river pilot in the Yukon. He opened a store in Skagway which he ran until 1901 when he moved back to Washington and opened a clothing store in Bellingham. In 1913 he became the manager for the Pacific Brewing & Malting Company. However, prohibition was only a year and a half down the way, so his tenure there was short lived. He became a prominent industrialist in Everett and in 1917 moved to Seattle where he managed a manufacturing concern until his retirement in 1931.
Hatch was a counselor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at one time president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and vice president and manager of the Arctic Club at his death. He died on this day, July 7, 1942 in Seattle.
Seen above is an ad from the B&M Company – they just don’t make ads like this anymore!

1900 Skagway census; Skagway News 12.31.1897; 1910 Everett census; Olympia pioneers website; Illustrated History of the Everett Brewing Company.

82 Saloons

I had heard over the years of the 80+ Saloons in Skagway so I decided to make a list. This list is of the Gold Rush Saloons in Skagway, Dyea and on the trail, and even at White Pass city. I have the owners also if anyone is interested. Seen above is an early picture of Skagway in 1897 with the Cripple Creek Saloon (owner John Doe) on the right.

5th Ave Hotel and Saloon
Alert Saloon
Al-ki Saloon
Annex Saloon
Arctic Hotel
Arctic Saloon
Astoria Hotel
Balmoral Saloon
Bay View Hotel
Beer by the Quart Saloon
Bloom & Korach
Board of Trade Saloon
Brady’s Saloon
Broadway Saloon
California Pack Train Saloon
City Brewery
Clancy’s Saloon
Club Saloon
Comet Saloon
Comique Variety Hall & Saloon
Commerce Saloon
Cosy Saloon
Cripple Creek Saloon & Peoples theatre
Dewey Saloon
Everyman’s Saloon & Douglass Lodging House
First and Last Chance Saloon
Gem Saloon
Hannah Marr Bar
Hoff & Gem Saloon
Horseshoe Saloon
Hotel Chilkoot
Hotel Grand Bar
Idaho Saloon
Jeff’s Place
Jewell Saloon
Jimmy Ryan Nuggett Saloon
Klondike Saloon
La Fiesta Saloon
Little Star Saloon
Lobby Music Hall or Libby Saloon
Log Cabin Saloon
Louvre Saloon
Merchant Saloon
Midway Saloon
Miner’s hotel
Mint Saloon
Mirror Saloon
Montana Saloon
Monte Carlo Hotel
New Brewery Saloon
Owl Saloon
Pack Train Saloon
Palace Hotel Bar Bennett
Palace of Delight
Hot Scotch Saloon
Payne & Peterson saloon
Picture Saloon
Pioneer Saloon
Princess Saloon
Pullen House Hotel
Rainier Saloon
Red Onion Saloon
Seattle Bar
Seattle Saloon or the Gentleman’s Saloon
Skagit Saloon
Smug Saloon
Summit Roadhouse
Surprise Saloon
The Bank
The Kentucky House Saloon
The Monogram Saloon
The Monte Carlo Bar
The Office Saloon
The Palace Royal
The Peerless Saloon
Theatre Royale
Victoria House Lodging & Saloon
White Navy Saloon
Wonder Saloon

Otto H. Partridge

Otto was born in 1857 on the Isle of Man. He emigrated from England to San Francisco. In 1897, he heard the stories of men walking off ships in San Francisco with suitcases full of gold from the Yukon gold fields. He had boat building skills that would be valuable in the north so at age 42 he set off for Skagway, Alaska.
He is said to have smuggled $20,000 to Lake Bennett in a bale of oakum.

Otto crossed the Chilkoot Pass and traveled to Bennett, British Columbia. Bennett was the start of the lake and river system that led to Dawson City. Here he worked as general manager for the Bennett Lake and Klondike Navigation Company. With the extension of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway to Whitehorse in 1900, Otto moved to Milhaven Bay on Bennett Lake near Carcross where he set up a sawmill and supplied railroad ties to the WP&YR. His wife Kate joined him here. They lived on a houseboat and Kate spent her time cultivating flower and vegetable gardens which flourished in the intense northern sunlight.
Otto’s sawmill closed shortly after the end of the gold rush and he turned his interest to mining. In 1911, he started a mining operation in partnership with Stanley McLellan and Lugwig Swanson. He called the mine Ben-My-Chree. The name in Manx spoken on the Isle of Man, translates to “girl of my heart”, and was a tribute to Kate. The small mine employed up to sixty men, but was short-lived as an avalanche roared down the mountain burying the mine and tragically killing Stanley McLellan and his wife.
After the accident, the Partridges stopped mining and built a homestead, also named Ben-My-Chree, in the spectacular wilderness valley just 106 km south of the Yukon border. In the rich glacial silt they cultivated two acres of formal flower gardens in this most unlikely setting. Forty varieties of flowers flourished here and grew to amazing heights. The delphiniums were ten feet high, the pansies and poppies were five inches in diameter.
In 1912, sternwheelers began stopping at Ben-My-Chree to bring mail and supplies and to stock up on fresh vegetables from the Partridge’s garden.
In 1916, Otto entered into an agreement with the British Yukon Navigation Company to bring tourists down the lake from Carcross to visit the gardens. Word quickly spread and soon steamers carried 9,000 passengers annually to Ben-My-Chree. The scenery at Ben-My-Chree entranced visitors. The combination of towering snowcapped mountains, the rushing glacial river, the long white sandy delta, the turquoise lake, and the incredible gardens were breathtaking.
A houseboy received visitors at the dock while Kate, dressed in long formal wear, welcomed visitors at the garden gate. In the drawing room, Kate entertained with organ music. Otto conducted tours of the gardens and, a gifted storyteller, he captivated his audiences with stories from the gold rush days.
During the 1920’s Ben-My-Chree was considered a key place to visit among the social elite of that time period. Many wealthy people including the Prince of Wales, President Roosevelt, Lord and Lady Byng, and numerous silent picture movie stars made the long trip.
Otto died at age 73 on this day, June 28, 1930 and Kate a few months later at the age of 77. They are buried in the Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery.
They are pictured above.

Martinsen Trail to North Star Gold; What Lies Beneath website for the Whitehorse Cemetery.