July 22, 2017

1925 moving pictures of the steamer Utopia.

inds of Chance 
Moving pictures of the steamer Utopia.

Frank Lloyd's 1925 film Winds of Chance (from the Rex Beach novel) has a few remarkable scenes of the steamer Utopia, chartered for the film.
You'll definitely want to watch at least the first ten minutes of the film. It contains more of interest than just the real Utopia. The locale looks like Skaguay harbor but is not. Lloyd was said to be a stickler for authenticity. This film shows he probably was. He found a local in BC that had a resemblance to Skaguay harbor, and scenes throughout the film, and the action, are in keeping with period photographs. I watched most of the whole 2-hour movie! I expect you'll agree it's rather well made. No wonder. It's an early work of a prolific film maker and future academy award winner. I recommend exploring the Lloyd website (http://www.franklloydfilms.com) and watching the bio. What a treat to see the Utopia with coal smoke belching from its stack.  —Art Petersen
Utopia plan

Various facts:

The steamer Utopia, operated by the Puget Sound Navigation Co. since its merger in 1903 with the La Conner Trading and Transportation Co., was sold early in the year [1926] and taken to Houghton for scrapping. She had been laid up on Lake Union since the remodeled Comanche took over her old Strait route. Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1926, H.W. McCurdy, Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, p. 376.

The steamer Utopia, a 124-foot wooden freight steamer of 423 tons, was also refitted to carry passengers and placed on the Skagway run. The Utopia was built at Seattle in 1893 for G. W. McGregor to replace the J. R. McDonald on the Seattle-Vancouver freight run. The Utopia was replaced on a few voyages by the side-wheeler Sehome, rebuilt from the Columbia River stern-wheeler Mountain Queen, built at The Dalles in 1877. Gordon Newell, Maritime events of 1897, H.W. McCurdy, Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: Superior, 1966, p. 16.

The Seattle Steamship Co. operated the Utopia in direct service from Puget Sound to Skagway and Dyea, sailing twice a month with a capacity of 24 first-class and 54 steerage passengers. Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1898, H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. p. 35.

The steamer Utopia of the Puget Sound Navigation Co. was extensively overhauled and rebuilt [1909], receiving new engine and boilers and a rebuilding of her hull. Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1909, H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest., p. 162.

On 20 August 1896, The Flyer was rammed by the steamer Utopia off Browns Point, near Tacoma. Captain John O'Brien was in command of Utopia which was then enroute to Tacoma with a cargo of gold and silver ore. One Utopia crew member was killed. Utopia took on Flyer's passengers, and towed Flyer to Tacoma for repairs.

Watch the entire film, Winds of Chance.

* Special thanks to Art Petersen for sharing his findings on the Utopia.

New photo of the Utopia discovered: July 19, 2017
Soapy arrives in Skagway on the Utopia
: May 13, 2017
The other photo of the Utopia: August 13, 2011 

The Utopia: pages 412-17, 435, 447.

"In the art of sleight-of-hand mechanics, he could deal himself the winning hand in any game without fail or suspicion. In his talents, few equaled him."
Alias Soapy Smith, page 15


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1796: Cleveland is founded by General Moses Cleveland.
1798: The USS Constitution goes out to sea for the first time since being launched on October 21, 1797.
1876: Frank Ashton, a bunco man sells prize package soap on the Bowery in New York City. This is the same swindle that gives Jefferson Randolph Smith the alias of “Soapy.”
1880: Outlaw, Charles Earl “Black Bart” Bowles holds up a stage from Point Arena headed to Duncan's Mill, California.
1882: John Jefferson “Offwheeler” Harlan, a confidence man arrested for vagrancy, fined $100 and 30-days in jail. He and his gang have been operating around the Trinidad, Colorado depot, and had swindled a local.
1883: Arson destroys much of Miles City, Montana.
1892: The wife of Wild Bunch gang member, Will Carver, dies during childbirth.
1892: The U.S. and Great Britain sign the Boundary Convention on Alaska and Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine.
1892: William Allen is arrested and transported back to Creede, Colorado as a suspect in the “Reddy” McCann shooting, in which Soapy Smith’s brother-in-law, William Light shot and killed McCann in a saloon.
1895: Bascomb Smith, younger brother of bad man Soapy Smith, pulls a gun on Louis Petit in Denver, Colorado. Petit grabs the gun as the two wrestle for control of it. Two shots are fired but Petit is not hit.

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