April 15, 2017

Skagway, Alaska Photograph: 1908-1928

Circa 1908-1928
Jeff Smith collection
(Click image to enlarge)

Skagway, Alaska, circa 1908-1928

I purchased a great old photograph of Skagway, Alaska (photo #1) that I originally had guessed to date post-1935. I thought this because it appeared that Soapy Smith's saloon, Jeff Smith's Parlor, was on the south side of Sixth Avenue, which was moved there by Martin Itjen in 1935 (photo #4).

Upon closer examination I came to a preliminary conclusion that the photo was older than 1935. My first clue was the amount of original structures still standing, many of which were gone by 1935. I gathered up my photographs of Skagway and quickly realized that the Parlor was still on the north side of Sixth Avenue, in it's original location (photo #1). I circled the Parlor in yellow, on the far right side of the photo, but the Parlor cannot really be made out and positively identified. At this time period the Parlor was owned by the Hook and Ladder Company, Skagway's volunteer fire department (1900-1935).

Upon my first examination of the photograph (photo #1) I assumed that the white-walled building across the street from the Parlor (circled in red in photo #1) was the Parlor, but looking at the same location in a photograph taken in 1898 (photo #2) we see the same two buildings circled in yellow. The red arrow points to Jeff Smith's Parlor during the time Soapy was alive.  

(now Sixth Avenue)
June 1898
Red arrow points to Jeff Smith's Parlor
Courtesy University of Alaska, Fairbanks

circa 1916
Owned by Hook and Ladder Company
courtesy Library of Congress
(Click image to enlarge)

Now that I was able to determine that the photograph was pre-1935 I undertook to see if I could nail-down an earlier date. I researched some of the buildings along Broadway, the first being the Golden North, the large three story hotel at the south end of Broadway (far left of photo #1). The third floor of the hotel was completed by August 1908 so the photograph cannot be earlier than 1908. Next, I looked at some of the structures that I knew did not endure the ages. The Clayson Block, circled in yellow (photo #1) was destroyed by fire in 1928, so my new acquisition cannot date after 1928. I was not able to obtain a more precise date but I am sure it can be made.

Circa 1940s
After Martin Itjen moved and rebuilt
Jeff Smith collection
(Click image to enlarge)

"How men of good family and connections East can come here and marry prostitutes–take them out of a dance house–I can’t see. "
—George Parsons
diary entry
July 16, 1880


1813: U.S. troops under James Wilkinson attack the Spanish-held city of Mobile, in the future state of Alabama, during the War of 1812.
1817: The first school for the deaf opens in Hartford, Connecticut.
1850: The city of San Francisco, California is incorporated.
1859: Along the Colorado River in New Mexico Territory (present day Arizona), work begins on Camp Colorado, which is meant to assist emigrants en route to California. The name soon changes to Fort Mojave.
1861: President Lincoln mobilizes the Federal army in preparation for the Civil War.
1862: The Battle of Peralta, the westernmost battle of the Civil War, takes place in New Mexico Territory (present day Arizona). At Picacho Pass an advance unit of the California Column from Yuma defeats a Confederate detachment of Texans. Upon learning of the battle, Confederate troops retreat from Tucson, Arizona.
1865: President Abraham Lincoln dies from the bullet he received in Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth the previous night.
1869: The Supreme Court, in Texas vs. White, rules that secession from the Union is unconstitutional.
1871: James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok becomes the marshal of Abilene, Kansas. His salary is $150 a month.
1877: Captain William Hancock files the first claim in Arizona Territory, under the Desert Land Act.
1879: John Chisum recommends Pat Garrett to Governor Lew Wallace of New Mexico Territory, as the man to take care of the outlaws running east of Fort Sumner.
1881: Outlaw “Billy the Kid” is convicted of murder in Mesilla, New Mexico Territory for the shooting of Sheriff William Brady. The “Kid” is sentenced on the 15th to be hanged on May 13, 1881. He escapes while being held in Lincoln.
1881: The Battle of Keating's Saloon takes place in El Paso, Texas. After two Mexican officers conducting an investigation of international cattle rustling are killed, Mexico demands an inquest of the two men. Constable Gus Krempkau acts as interpreter, which angers the rustlers. At noon, Krempkau leaves the courtroom and is accosted outside Keating's Saloon by George Campbell, a friend of the rustlers. While Cambell and Krempkau argue, John Hale, comes up and shoots Krempkau in the chest. Hale runs behind a post in front of the saloon when Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire appears on the scene. Stoudenmire fires at Hale, killing him instantly, but a second shot wounds an innocent man emerging from the saloon. In the meantime, a dying Krempkau fires at Campbell, striking him in the wrist and toe. Krempkau dies at the steps of the saloon, when Campbell, returns fire. Stoudenmire then shoots and kills Campbell.
1889: A marshal's posse in Oklahoma Territory kills a couple of “sooners,” and captures a group more, nine days before the official start. Sooners are settlers who sneak onto the Public Domain territory to make land claims before the official start of the land rush.
1892: The General Electric Company is organized.
1892: Soapy Smith “leases” McGinty the petrified man for $3,000 and leaves Creede, Colorado back to Denver to place it on display there.
1894: First public showing of Thomas Edison's kinetoscope in New York City.

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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