Rev. C. W. Ruth


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!


Ranger led walking tours in Skagway

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!

Fraser Lake in fall

Last fall we hiked from Fraser on the Klondike Highway up the service road to the west and came to this beautiful remote lake.

mid-century photo of Skagway

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.

SS Dolphin 1905

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.”

SS Humboldt

I found this neat picture on Ebay. This Case and Draper photo was taken in 1905 in Skagway harbor.  The photo sold for a few dollars recently, here is the description:

“Two decks, two masts, 1075 tons. 213.1 x 31. 15.7 feet. 36 crew, 140 passengers Built in 1896 at Eureka, California. Operated on the Alaska route for many years.

The steamer Humboldt of the Humboldt Steamship Co Max Kalish, manager, piled up on Mouat Point, a rocky promontory on Pender Island off the Vancouver Island Coast on September 29. In charge of Capt. E. G. Baughman, the vessel was en route from Seattle to Skagway and other southeastern Alaska ports and was feeling her way through a dense fog. A wireless call for help was sent, and the fishing steamer Edith, Capt. Thomas A. Miller responded, removing all the passengers safely. Although her bow was crumpled back four feet from the stem, she was later refloated by J. E. Pharo’s Puget Sound salvage steamer Santa Cruz and, following repairs, resumed Alaska service.

The little Alaska steamer Humboldt, once famous as a gold carrier in the Puget Sound -southeastern Alaska run, was sold at auction in San Francisco to satisfy creditors’ claims. Thereafter she was little used, remaining in layup at San Diego until 1935.”

Mystery family


Katherine Ann Gonzales was born on February 14, 1859 in California. She had a husband and two children but decided to abandon them and go to the Klondike in 1898. She worked as a whore in Skagway and men enjoyed her many talents. One day she was found smothered in her bed shortly after it was revealed that she was sleeping with several married men in town. It was a mystery who committed the murder – perhaps a jealous wife? Her husband John paid to have her body shipped home to San Jose. It is said that her ghost still haunts the alleys of Skagway on cold windy nights!

Eagle Brewery

I saw that this little label sold on Ebay for $417 recently. The Eagle Brewery was run by William and Bertha Schwartzenberg who were from Germany. It ran from 1905 to 1910 here in Skagway. Cheers to Bill and Bertha!


1910 census;  online at

Speaking of cruise ship fires







In Ketchikan, in 1945, smoke billows from the steamship Prince George. The ship caught fire September 22, 1945. She was towed from the dock and allowed to burn when it became clear that the fire was uncontrollable.
Donor: Bert Libe, Courtesy Tongass Historical Society

The little Mocking Bird

When Captain Harry Barlow lost his ship the Port Admiral near Wrangel in February 1898 in a blinding snowstorm, he bought the little passenger steam launch Mocking Bird. He put it into use as the Skagway to Dyea as the ferry service in 1898. The little 20 horsepower, 72 foot long vessel was built in 1889 in Tacoma and weighed 38 tons gross.  She was still registered in 1910 but then disappeared from history.


From Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1898 and H.W. McCurdy, Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Wikipedia; transcribed from the Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping