March 20, 2019

Soapy Smith arrives in Skagway

Map of Alaska
(Click image to enlarge)

oapy Smith arrives in Skagway
aboard the Utopia, between 10 and 11 a.m., August 20, 1897

When did Soapy arrive in Skagway, Alaska? This is a question with an on-going quest to answer. With each new lead we get closer to finally solving the mystery. As of this post it would appear that Soapy arrived in Skaguay Bay on-board the small steamer Utopia, on Friday, August 20, 1897, between 10 and 11 a.m.

The following is a clipping from the Victoria Daily Colonist, August 31, 1897.


Three make port since Saturday – a New York newspaperman’s experience.


Much excitement was created on Sunday and yesterday through the return of three of the steamships which carried north to Dyea and Skagway heavy loads of miners, miners’ outfits and miners’ supplies. The ships, which were the Bristol, Islander and City of Kingston, had been looked for since Friday – in fact long before they were really due. They came in the order of the Bristol, arriving at 5 a.m., yesterday morning, Islander, at 11 a.m., on Sunday, and the City of Kingston an hour or so later. All brought practically the same news, which is in part told everywhere. The Islander had called at Northern British Columbia ports and filled up with salmon cargo, bringing down in all 7,000 cases of the dainty canned fish from the Skeena, Rivers Inlet and Lowe Inlet. The Bristol enjoyed probably the most exciting trip of any of the trio of arrivals. Difficulties were encountered unloading at Skaguay, but none were insurmountable and the worst came in the dealing with a few American “hot heads,” who were heard from long before leaving here. Dissatisfied with the manner in which the outfits were landed a few threatened hard things against Capt. McIntyre and one went so far as to give him a shaking. But Capt. McIntyre regarded all things philosophically and calmly gave his abuser to understand that he was on a British vessel, and that any offense he committed would be punishable by British law. The argument though simple, was beautifully effective and no more trouble in this way was experienced. The only serious mishap came in a passenger, whose name could not be ascertained, yesterday falling into the hold of the ship and breaking his arm besides injuring his chest internally. He was immediately taken in hand by comrades and well looked after.
The Utopia
Mr. A. E. Englehardt, who made the round-trip on the Bristol, says the ship arrived at Dyea on August 20, and five hours afterwards the Islander dropped anchor in the same bay to be joined a little later by the Kingston, Elder, Utopia and Coquitlam. He went up to the pass and found many miners turning back. At Skagway, he says, a town is being built apparently unconscious of the inhabitants. It was the liveliest place he has seen in many a day. All kinds of gambling is in progress and money “flies.” The American customs officers are adopting a measure in the imposing of $30 duty on all Canadian horses used for packing purposes in the so-called American territory that is going to make things unpleasant for a time. They threaten that all Canadian goods will have to go through their territory in charge of an inspector whose wages will be $6 a day, and that these goods cannot be broken in bulk. It is Mr. Englehardt’s advice, however, in this connection not as a means for the accommodation of American officers, but for the convenience of handling on and off the ship that packages should all be enclosed in large cases. Capt. Meyers, of the steamship Danube, Mr. Englehardt reports, is threatened with a warm reception when he reaches Dyea, but that he will overcome all dire foreboding’s and come up with his head erect on his shoulders no one knowing the captain would ever question.

On her return trip the Bristol past the Danube on August 26, the Capilano on August 28, the Starr on August 29, and then with Willamette and the City of Topeka on Sunday night. The ship made a very fast homeward run. Before leaving Dyea, Scovel, the New York World man, had set out for Juneau to make a record for his paper. He declared that he had $50,000 to buy powder with, with which he intended enlarging the White Pass and making it possible for any number wishing to cross it.

Interesting to note that All kinds of gambling is in progress and money “flies,” indicating that Soapy and company lost no time in setting up shop. "Scovel, the New York World man," is Sylvester Scovel, whom Soapy befriended.

The original article
Returning Steamships
Victoria Daily Colonist
August 31, 1897, p. 6.
Click image to enlarge


Utopia: pages 412-17, 435, 447.

"Every crowd has a silver lining."
— P. T. Barnum


1760: The great fire of Boston destroys 349 buildings.
1816: The Supreme Court affirms the right to review state court decisions.
1833: The U.S. and Siam sign a commercial treaty.
1852: Harriet Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is published.
1865: A plan by John Wilkes Booth to abduct U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is ruined when Lincoln changes his plans and does not appear at the Soldier’s Home near Washington, D.C.
1868: Outlaws, Jesse and Frank James and Cole and Jim Younger, along with four other men, rob the Southern Bank of Russellville, Kentucky. Frank uses the alias Frank Colburn, a cattle buyer from Louisville. The gang rides off with about $14,000.
1879: New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace receives a message from outlaw Billy the Kid asking whether the escape of Campbell and Evans will change their agreement made on the 17th. Wallace replies that the escape made no difference in their arrangements.
1880: The first Southern Pacific train arrives in Tucson, Arizona with much fanfare.
1884: John H. Fitzgerald is murdered (throat slit) and robbed in the brothel of Belle Warden. Prostitute Mattie Lemmon accompanied Fitzgerald to a city dance, and afterwards returned to the brothel where the throat slicing was committed by Barry Gates. Wagon driver Tony Delph buried the body in the sands under the Cofax Avenue bridge, which was discovered two months later, on May 18. All four were sentenced to ten-years in the state penitentiary.
1885: John Matzeliger patents the shoe lacing machine.
1886: The first AC power plant in the U.S. opens.
1890: The General Federation of Womans' Clubs is founded.
1891: The first computing scale company is incorporated in Dayton, Ohio.
1893: Soapy Smith presides over the gambling room at the Ingersoll Club in Denver, Colorado.
1896: U.S. Marines land in Nicaragua to protect U.S. citizens in the wake of a revolution.
1897: The first U.S. orthodox Jewish Rabbinical seminary is incorporated in New York.
1897: The first intercollegiate basketball game that utilizes five players per team is held between Yale and Pennsylvania. Yale wins.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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