August 13, 2011

The steamship Utopia

(Click image to enlarge)

I grabbed the above photograph of the Steamer Utopia from McSweeney' The Utopia is the ship Soapy Smith boarded in Cooks Inlett, Alaska on his return trip to Seattle, Washington, but had he known what lay ahead, he might have waited for another ship.

The ships master was Captain "Dynamite Johnny" A. O’Brien, a character worthy of several of his own biographies. It was on this trip to Seattle that Soapy aided the ill captain against a mutiny by the crew due to low quality coal. Soapy forked over an additional $300 for better coal and loaned his revolvers to the captain in order to quash a rebellion aboard his vessel. What should have been a two week voyage took 2 months to complete, but in that time Soapy had made a life-long friend in the captain, who asked no questions of the Soap Gang who took passage on his steamer. In the end, the captain gave free passage to Soapy's widow when she left Skagway in August 1898. The story of Soapy's adventures with Captain O'Brien are detailed in my book.

Captain John O'Brien: pages 413-16, 435, 586.

Jeff Smith


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