October 21, 2014

Skagway's first train.

First locomotive in Skagway
and all of Alaska!
(Click image to enlarge)

July 20, 1898

It was railroad employee Jesse Murphy who put the final bullet into Soapy Smith's body that sent him to his final resting place, wherever that may be. Twelve days later, July 20, 1898, the White Pass and Yukon Railway ran their locomotive engine up Broadway for the first time.

First passenger cars in Skagway
and all of Alaska!
 (Click image to enlarge)

No 2 was not only Skagway's first train, but Alaska's. The engine was a small 2-6-0 built in 1881 by Brooks Mogul and purchased by the WP and YR in 1898. It was the railroad's No. 2 until it was renumbered "52" in 1900. The locomotive is restored and on exhibit in Skagway.

First passenger train to White Pass summit
February 20, 1899
 (Click image to enlarge)

On September 10, 1898 the first passenger cars made their way out of Skagway. Five months later the first passenger train brought miners to the White Pass summit and the Canadian border.

Photos courtesy of the University of Washington.

Reid carted an old Smith and Wesson six-shooter, an ancient gun he had used in the rip-roaring days of the west and which he considered the best gun in Skagway. He said it never failed him but its failure finally cost his life.
—Matthew M. Sundeen
Alias Soapy Smith, p. 533.


1797: the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution is launched in Boston harbor. During the War of 1812 it is given the nickname of "Old Ironsides" when people witness a cannon ball bouncing off its side.
1849: The first recorded tattooed man, James F. O’Connell, is put on exhibition at the Franklin Theatre in New York City.
1860: William F. "Billy the Kid" Claiborne is born in Yazoo county, Mississippi.
1866: Construction is completed on Ft. Phil Kearny in Wyoming Territory.
1867: The Medicine Lodge (Kansas) Talks take place. Leaders of the Kiowa, Comanche and Kiowa-Apache Indian tribes sign the peace treaty. Comanche Chief Quanah Parker refuses to accept the treaty terms.
1871: “Coal Oil” Jimmy and 2 other men rob a stagecoach near Trinidad, Colorado Territory.
1872: A penitentiary opens in Laramie, Wyoming Territory.
1873: George A. Custer's command arrives in Lincoln, Dakota Territory.
1876: Chief Sitting Bull's camp on the Big Dry River, Montana Territory is attack by Colonel Nelson Miles. 5 Indians are killed and 2 soldiers are wounded.
1878: “Billy the Kid” and 4 accomplices steal 8 horses from the Grzelachowski ranch in New Mexico Territory.
1879: Thomas Edison invents the electric incandescent lamp. It stayed lit for 13-1/2 hours before it burnt out.
1889: A Butte, Montana newspaper reports that a funeral procession became disoriented in thick smelter smoke and somehow ended up in the Centennial Brewery.
1889: William Alexander is convicted of murdering his business partner, David Steadman in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He is spared from the sentence of hanging by Isaac Parker, ironically given the moniker of "the Hanging Judge."

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