July 9, 2009

Soapy Smith's saloon, 1940-1941

(Click image to enlarge)
Martin Itjen poses in front of Jeff Smith's Parlor
as it looked when he purchased it in 1935.
(Note the sign he holds appears to be possibly part
of the original sign that identified the saloon in 1898.)

I received an interesting email this morning from a Pat De Weel. I'll let her own words tell her story.

My father served in the Army's 508 Port Battalion in World War II. One of his fondest memories is being shipped to Skagway and going to Soapy Smith's Saloon. He remembers ordering a shot of every drink in the bar and then passing out only to find his fellow army buddies had shaved his head!

I am going to visit Skagway in August of this year and would like to see the saloon my father visited. Can you tell me the address of the saloon? Is it open to the public? I read information on your website and several others. Some indicate the saloon is still operating. Please let me know where it is so I can see where my father visited as a young man.

Thank you so much.
Pat De Weel
Las Vegas, NV

Jeff responds,

Dear pat.

In 1935 Martin Itjen purchased my great grandfather's (Soapy Smith) saloon (Jeff Smith's Parlor) located on the south side of 6th Avenue. He restored it back to the original way it looked when Soapy owned it and reopened it as a museum on Soapy. To my knowledge it was operational after 1940 when your father was stationed in Skagway but I don't think it served alcohol, but it is possible.

In 1963 it was relocated to the south side on Second Avenue, just west of Broadway (the main street) and reopened as a museum. The museum closed in the late 1960s and was never reopend. It is currently owned and about to go through resotration by the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (National Park Service) and it will no doubt be years before it is again open to the public. You will have no problem finding it. Just ask any resident in town and they will lead you in the right direction. I strongly suggest going to the Headquarters of the NPS located in the huge train depot as you enter town and asking about their collection of Skagway war years collection. I am certain they have a display as well. Have a wonderful trip. I am certain you will love the town. that your father was so fond of.

(Click image to enlarge)
Martin Itjen poses inside Jeff Smith's Parlor
as it looked around 1940.
(Note the manicanical Soapy Smith effigy)

Special thanks to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical
Park for the use of photographs from their collection.

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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith