December 6, 2012

Jeff Smith's Parlor restoration: Martin Itjen, part 18

Left, believed to be the original Packard engine from the first
Martin Itjen Skagway Street Car shown in the photo on the right.
  George & Edna Rapuzzi Collection, Klondike Gold Rush NHP

artin Itjen is a hero with the fans of Soapy Smith, for without him Jeff. Smith's Parlor would not have been saved, along with many other Skagway historical artifacts. The National Park Service continues to research the items along with the Rapuzzi Collection. One recent find is believed to be the original engine to his famed tour bus. The story is told in the following article published in The Skagway News.


Original Itjen Street Car engine located in Rapuzzi Collection

Local Skagway car restorer Tobias Parsons recently identified the original motor to Martin Itjen's Street Car #1 while assisting National Park Service and Municipality of Skagway museum staff with the inventory of the George and Edna Rapuzzi Collection. The Rapuzzi Collection contains a wide variety of vintage automotive parts, which sparked Parsons’ interest.

NPS Curator Samantha Richert asked Parsons to examine the Street Car, which is in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park museum collection, to see if he could identify any useful parts. His inspection of the Street Car’s 1908 Packard chassis led to his identification of a matching 1908 Packard engine in the Rapuzzi Collection inventory, which Parsons and the park’s museum team believe is the original Street Car engine.

“This is an exciting discovery and we’re happy that Tobias has been able to help Samantha in looking through the auto parts of the collection,” stated Superintendent Mike Tranel in a press release.

The Rapuzzi Collection, which includes an estimated 30,000 items and five historic buildings, contains many artifacts related to Martin Itjen, a stampeder who later led Skagway’s developing tourist trade. After Itjen’s death in 1942, many of his belongings passed to his long-time friend, George Rapuzzi, who was a tourism promoter and guide as well as a consummate collector in his own right.

The Rasmuson Foundation purchased the collection in 2007 and donated it to the Municipality of Skagway with the understanding that it would be processed jointly with Klondike Gold Rush NHP. Staff from both museums have been inventorying the collection for five years, and just tallied the 11,000th item, the release said. Skagway Museum director Judy Munns and the park’s curator jointly review the inventory for items that would be appropriate for their collections, and approximately 6,000 items have been included in either the municipality’s or the park’s museum collections. Inventory and research will continue on the collection this winter.

The buildings donated as part of the Rapuzzi Collection have also undergone significant restoration work since the Rasmuson Foundation’s donation. The National Park Service has poured foundations and erected new roofs for the YMCA, Meyer’s Meat Market, and Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum.

The municipality has installed underground power and made safety improvements to the Commissary and has made minor stabilization repairs on the Rapuzzi/Dahl house. When restoration is completed, some buildings will include museum space for the Rapuzzi Collection to be prominently displayed. Jeff. Smith’s Parlor will showcase many artifacts from both the Itjen and Rapuzzi eras as they contribute to the “Soapy” story of Skagway’s gold rush history, the release states.

Artifacts will continue to be featured in exhibits such as the upcoming Yuletide seasonal window display at the park headquarters, located in the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railway Depot on 2nd Avenue.

“I’m currently recruiting volunteers with expertise on trains,” Richert said. If you would like to help to assist with identifying train-related parts and equipment in the Rapuzzi Collection, please contact her at 907-983-9222. The park has a new Facebook page, which also features many of the Rapuzzi Collection artifacts. It can be found at:

The Skagway News
November 21, 2012


*I wish to thank Bob Lyon, historian for the NPS for sending me the information.

Jeff Smith's Parlor restoration

February 4, 2009 (Part 1)
February 19, 2009 (Part 2)  
March 31, 2010 (Part 3)  
August 7, 2010 (Part 4) 
February 11, 2011 (Part 5) 
April 5, 2011 (Part 6)
May 8, 2011 (Part 7)
May 17, 2011 (Part 8)
November 20, 2011 (Part 9)
March 21, 2012 (Part 10)
March 30, 2012 (Part 11)
June 20, 2012 (Part 12)
August 8, 2012 (Part 13)
August 29, 2012 (Part 14)
September 1, 2012 (Part 15)
September 26, 2012 (Part 16)
October 4, 2012 (Part 17)

Martin Itjen: pages 11, 12-13, 453.

"My business is selling prize packages. No one is obliged to buy."
—Jefferson R. Smith, Weekly Register Call, 8/2/1889.


1790: U.S. Congress moves from New York to Philadelphia.
1821: Grandparents of bad man Soapy Smith, Dr. Ira Ellis Smith and Ellen Stimpson Peniston marry in Petersburg, Virginia.
1865: The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery in the United States.
1866: Indian Chief Red Cloud observes the decoy tactics of the Ogalala Sioux Indian braves Crazy Horse, Yellow Eagle, and High Back Bone two miles from Fort Kearny. Warriors taunt soldiers who are out guarding woodcutters, getting the soldiers to lead a chase, and then the Indians attack in mass from the rear. Two soldiers are killed and Red Cloud is convinced that if a large number of soldiers were to be lead out of the fort, a thousand Indians would wipe them out.
1870: Silent-screen actor William S. Hart is born in Newburgh, New York. He is raised in the Dakotas. He is most famous for his western films, starting in 1915, in which he sought authenticity.
1875: The Indian Bureau in Washington, D.C. sets the deadline of January 31, 1876 for all Indians to be on reservations or be considered hostile and treated accordingly.
1876: Jack McCall is convicted in Yankton, Dakota Territory for the murder of “Wild Bill” Hickok and sentenced to hang on March 1, 1877.
1876: The city of Anaheim, California is incorporated for the second time.
1877: Thomas Edison demonstrates the first gramophone with a recording of himself reciting the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
1883: Ladies' Home Journal begin publication.
1884: The construction of the Washington Monument is completed after 34 years.
1886: The first Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota train arrives in Topeka, Kansas.
1889: Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, dies in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1907: The worst mine disaster in the United States kills 361 people in Monongah, West Virginia.


  1. Just as I was ogling at the original TOMS air intake that ... more information about the car and to take some engine bay ... cars, Street machine;Thanks for the post.Do some more stuff with your next post.

    1. I am sorry but I'm not quite sure what it is you are trying to say but thank you for responding.

      Jeff Smith


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