Capt. David Ogilvie Wallace

One of the early ships to come to Skagway was the Steamer Mexico in 1894. It was captained by David O. Wallace who had been navigating the Inside Passage at least since 1888 when he piloted the Corona for the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. Then in November of 1888 he took the City of Topeka north.

Wallace was born in Newburgh, Fife, Scotland on January 22, 1853 and went to sea as a boy. He arrived in California in 1870 and his first command was the Idaho. He had also served as seaman on the Santa Cruz, the Los Angeles and the Ancon (until it sank) and later as captain of the City of Topeka.

He died on June 26, 1908 in Seattle at the age of 55.


from Lewis & Dryden’s marine history of the Pacific Northwest; WA death records; familysearch.


Winter Shipwreck

“On December 8th [1900] the Str. “City of Topeka” struck on the rocks at the south end of Sullivan Island, Lynn Canal, and her passengers and crew were fortunate enough to reach the shore with enough equipment to make a camp in the midst of the storm that was howling down the Chilcat Inlet.” (about 25 miles south of Skagway)

In 1890 the Steamer “City of Topeka” brought 3655 tons of coal to Alaska from Nanaimo BC. It is seen above, on the right, at Muir Glacier in 1895 when it was bringing tourists to Alaska on cruises. I wonder if they got their towels folded into little animals in their staterooms?

There is another rock down near Wrangell call “City of Topeka Rock” which might have been another spot that this poor ship went aground, but I cannot find information on that.

First quote is “Marine Disasters of the Alaska Route” – excerpt regarding wrecks in Lynn Canal, written by C.L. Andrews as a plea for the government to install safeguards in the Lynn Canal. published by the Washington Historical Quarterly 1916.