Liquor, Schools and Boardwalks

In the spring of 1915 the Women’s Temperence Movement in Skagway was staging parades and demonstrations to encourage the townsfolk to vote “dry” in the upcoming election. The Daily Alaskan on May 25, 1915 stated that the town had just spent a lot of money to put in new sidewalks (presumably boardwalks) and that without the $4000 in liquor license taxes there may not even be enough money to fund the school. So, the town voted to be “wet” but that did not last for long. On November 7, 1916 the state voted to go “dry”. The saloons were given a year of grace, until January 1, 1918. But on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1917 the saloons bit the sawdust in every small town in Alaska including Skagway. This was a shock not only to the liquor interests but to everyone who only a year earlier had voted to go “wet”. Of the 16 incorporated towns in Alaska in 1916, 5 had no property tax and depended on the tax on liquor licenses to fund the town. So after that, presumably, Skagway initiated a property tax to fund the boardwalks and the school. Skagway has always been the port for the Yukon and liquor has always been one of, if not the, largest import. I do not know how the Yukoners got their liquor during that decade because it could not have come through here – or could it have? Seen above are the happy ladies of the W.C.T.U. in Skagway in 1915.