Edward Barry

Another death due to a White Pass accident, this on March 18, 1918. Ed Barry had survived the 1917 accident that killed the McKenzies, but on this day, the rotary engine rolled at milepost 106 and killed him.
Ed was born on August 18, 1880 in California and had come to Skagway in 1899 from Tacoma to be a painter and later a WP&YR engineer.

Charles E. Namby Wynn-Johnson

Charles was born in March 1871 in Richmond England to R. Byron Johnson, an ambitious and energetic lawyer and promoter of British Columbia. R. Byron wrote “The Klondyke Gold Fields – how to get to them” in 1897 as part of his business’ promotion of the West. His business was the British Columbia Development Association.

Charles was trained as a civil engineer and worked for White Pass reporting to the financiers in England on the status of the plans for building the railroad. He stayed in Skagway for a couple of years as the Moore’s Wharf general manager and even working as the U.S. Marshal here. His is one of the few houses still standing in Skagway. It is boarded up, next to the Peniel Mission and across from what was the Pullen Hotel. He moved south to British Columbia and built a ranch he called the Alkali Ranch for his family where he lived until his death there in 1944.

In the photo above, you can see the Wynn-Johnson two story house behind the Moore House in the foreground. Both buildings are still standing, but only the Moore House is restored and open to the public by the National Park. The Wynn-Johnson house is privately owned.

Edward Toreson Hestness

Mr. Hestness was a White Pass section foreman in the 1920 census for Skagway. He was born on this day, March 9, 1879 in Norway. He died in 1924, at the age of 45, in a WP&YR train accident and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery. He left behind 5 children and his wife Gertrude. His son Harold hated White Pass for failing to compensate the family and so he went to the University of Washington Law School and became an attorney. The photo above is of another train wreck, taken by J.D. True, but you get the picture.

from: 1910, 1920 and 1929 census and book “After the Gold Rush” by Robert Dahl, son of Dr. Peter Dahl who lived in Skagway at the time.

Hugh Nelson Foy

On this day in 1899 Michael J. Heney lost an invaluable colleague. Hugh Foy literally worked himself to death on the construction of the railroad and died at the summit of pneumonia.
Foy was born on July 15, 1842 in Aroostok Maine. He was the construction foreman for White Pass. Seen above he is the only one smiling, on the far left. He died doing what he loved – read the obituary below.

“Skagway Alaskan Skagway, Alaska, Wednesday Morning, March 1, 1899
Page 1
Hugh Foy Passed Away Early Yesterday Morning
A Busy Life Suddenly Ended-Would Not Quit Work Until He Reached the Summit of White Pass
Another home has been rendered desolate by the sudden visitation of death, and and those who have been so long associated with Hugh Foy will see him no more for he has passed away and hereafter there will be only his memory to remind the of a sturdy character full of noble attributes the like of which it will be hard to find.

Hugh Foy died at White Pass at 2:30 yesterday morning after an illness of only about three days and during none of which his condition was deemed critical. While suffering from pneumonia the direct cause of his death was valvular heart trouble which was aggravated by pneumonia. He was known as a man of wonderful endurance, notwithstanding his age, which was sixty-seven (crossed out, written fifty seven) years, and he would go out at any time of night and in all kinds of weather. It was in one of these when called out one night last week that he caught a severe cold which brought on pneumonia and ended fatally yesterday morning.
The dead man born in the state of Maine and leaves a wife and six (crossed out, written four) children the latter all grown up, three (crossed out, written two) boys and three (crossed out, written two) girls. Mr. Foy leaves considerable property, much of it in Seattle where he owned a beautiful home on Queene Ann Hill now occupied by his family.
Speaking of his dead friend Mr. Heney said that Mr. Foy has remarkable record as a builder of railroads. In fact that he had built more miles of railway than any man of his years on the continent. He certainly had no peer in his time, “I consider him the ablest man I ever met, and from a railroad standpoint the name of Foy is known all over the country. His work has been on many of the transcontinental lines, especially on the Great Northern, whose road he built in the Kootenai country.”
Mr. Foy was also closely identified with the San Francisco Bridge Company, and is said to own considerable stock in the company. He also has a son connected with the same company who lately returned from South Aemrica where he erected some machinery.
Mr. Foy is a man of great physical endurance and it is said of him that his body is full of scars from wounds received in wrecks, explosions and other casualties,. His valvular heart trouble is said to have its origion in these numerous shocks.
Some time ago Mr. Heney urged him to take a vacation of sixty days, telling him he had earned it, but Mr. Foy positively refused saying he would not leave until the road got to the Summit. A week ago last Monday he it was who welcomed the one hundred excursionists on the Summit of White Pass and did much to make it pleasant for all the guests on the occasion. Today he has passed away. The Summit for him has been reached and from the summit his record for integrity and worth will shine like a beacon light for the world of workers to emulate.
The remains were brought to Skagway yesterday morning on a special by Supintendent Whiting and Dr. Whiting, and taken to Peoples’ where they will be embalmed ready to be taken down to Seattle on the Rosalie, the same steamer that took down the remains of R. B. Jack.
The remains of Hugh Foy will be taken home by his son-in-law (crossed out, written brother) Frank Walters, who has been Mr. Foy’s assistant in the construction work of the road.”

from Skagway Alaskan quoted above; Graves addendum memorium in book; Minter

John Hislop

John Hislop was the first Mayor of Skagway and President of our City Council from 1900-1901. He was a former High School teacher and came to Skagway from Cripple Creek, Colorado. He became the White Pass Chief Engineer and surveyor working closely with Michael Heney.

John was born in 1856 in Galt, Ontario Canada and his father also worked on the railroad as a section foreman.
On February 22, 1901, in Chicago the tragedy of John’s death brings tears to my eyes. Standing on the platform for the train, getting ready to meet his bride, his jacket caught and he was thrown under the train and killed. He was 45 years old.

The Barley photo above shows a WP official, probably Hislop surveying the White Pass summit for a route to build the railroad.

1881 Canadian and 1900 Skagway census; Goldrush website; Skagway News; Cy Warman; Mills; Minter.

WP guys

Here is a great pic of White Pass guys by the depot (?) taken by J.D. True. Let me know if anyone can identify these fellows!

Everette Dan Logan

On December 26, 1947 Ed Logan, a White Pass machinist, died at Slippery Rock in a railroad accident. He was 35 years old and is buried in the Skagway Pioneer Cemetery.

White Pass set aside $5000 in an account “To provide further amount of reserve for possible claim in settlement with the death of E.D.Logan in connection with wreck of Jordan spreader near M.P. 15 1/5 on Dec. 26, 1947”

this from White Pass records online:

Martin G. Itjen

Martin Itjen died on this day December 3, 1942 in Skagway. Born in 1870 in Germany, Martin was a showman who promoted Skagway in many ways. He arrived in Skagway in 1898 as a stampeder. He later worked as a White Pass laborer, he owned a transfer business, was an entertainer, owned the Bay View House hotel, and was even an undertaker.

In 1935, as a great publicity stunt, Martin took his “street car” to Hollywood to promote Skagway tourism. He called on big screen starlet, Mae West, to “come up and visit him sometime.” His image of standing in front of his bus with Mae West is the most famous image.

He is buried in the gold rush cemetery next to a large gold-painted boulder which is chained down.

A fellow bloggist has lots more info on Martin’s family:

John McCubbin – White Pass explosion

John McCubbin died on December 2, 1898 in a premature explosion on the White Pass between camp 9 and 10. He is buried in the Gold Rush cemetery and that is all that we know about him.
In doing research about that name, we can tell that he was of Scottish heritage and that there were McCubbins in New Zealand, Ontario Canada, Yukon Canada, Scotland and in the U.S.

A good example of how difficult it is to trace someone with a somewhat common name and without any other information. So if you have any more clues please let us know – here is a link to help you on your search:


Bob Oscar Siegrud Selmer Jr.

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.