May 9, 2011

The Skagway Historical Society blog

Marlene pulls up the day’s history blog on
her computer at the Skagway Visitor Center.
(photo by Andrew Cremata)

One of my favorite blogs is the one for the Skagway Historical Society. The proprietor is Marlene McCluskey and of all the blogs on the net hers is most often referenced here on this blog. In Skagway they are taking notice of her fine work. The following story by Andrew Cremata was published in The Skagway News, History Features April 29, 2011.

History in the making
McCluskey develops a following with Skagway blog

By Andrew Cremata

Many people from all walks of life have called Skagway home or used it as a jumping off point for adventures into the untamed frontier wilderness. The Skagway Historical Society’s folklore blog provides detailed information on the names and faces that have who helped shape and define the community.

Marlene McCluskey has been compiling information for the blog on a daily basis since 2009. A detailed database allows visitors with family ties to the Klondike Gold Rush days to find answers to historical mysteries when passing though town.

From her office at the Skagway Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, McCluskey demonstrated how she goes about compiling her information to keep the blog timely and up to date.

McCluskey explained that every day she cross-references her Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to find the name of a person who may have lived or died on that date. By utilizing information she has compiled from a storehouse of books and letters, she has been bringing to life the finer details of persons who have been part of Skagway’s history. Sometimes the information is limited and other times it is expansive.
On this day last year, McCluskey’s blog focused on a man by the name of Michael Brarmon.

The entry is accompanied by a photo of the Gold Rush Cemetery and reads, “Murdered in the Klondyke Saloon on this day, April 8, 1898 and buried two days later in the Gold Rush Cemetery. Apparently there was no investigation at the time, things were getting pretty bad in Skagway. Mr. Brarmon was about 22 years old and hailed from San Francisco.”

McCluskey said she obtained the information from the Skagway Death Record.
Other entries are far more detailed, made possible when more information is available about a person’s life.

Every year McCluskey gets numerous site visits from tourists asking about the details of a family member’s life. Her database often finds information at the push of a button, much to the delight of people seeking even the smallest of details about a mystery left unanswered for a century.

Numerous old photographs round out the daily blogs and bring the stories to life. Those interested in Skagway history are able to peruse the blog on a daily basis and are provided with a comprehensive historical analysis in one easy to browse location.
In her April 1 entry, McCluskey describes a secondhand story she heard from the great-grandson of a man named Louis Pollak, born in 1883.

The entry reads, “Louie came to the Yukon in the gold rush but did not do so well, so after the rush he returned to Chicago. Not satisfied with the city, he set out for the West again. He built a cabin at Nunn Creek and was attacked and eaten by wolverines.”

The blog can be found at:

Jeff Smith


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