THE SKAGWAY STREET CAR (ALASKA) : PRESENTER AND COMPONENT OF LOCAL HISTORY (1928)

This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of the “Skagway Street Car”. At least two passengers are inside the bus; and the driver poses outside the vehicle. For those who are wondering, Skagway is a port town located on Alaska’s panhandle. Jack London wrote about Skagway in his book, “The Call of the Wild”. This postcard was postmarked in Skagway in 1928. The growth and history of Skagway is very much related to the Klondike gold rush. In 1896, gold was discovered in the Klondike region of Canada’s Yukon territory. Thousands of miners travelled there through the town of Skagway. A number of new arrivals stayed in Skagway and opened up businesses to serve the miners. The town rapidly became the largest city in Alaska. A narrow gage railroad was completed by 1900. After a short time, Skagway became under the control of corrupt individuals, including con man “Soapy Smith”. By 1897 and 1898, the town became, basically, lawless. Drunkeness, fighting, and prostitution were rampant. Among Soapy Smith’s criminal enterprises was a telegraph office that charged five dollars to send a message anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, for people paying for these telegrams; there was no way to send telegrams from Skagway until years later. Skagway’s economy began to collapse in 1899 as the “gold rush” came to an end. Some of the early residents of Skagway were committed to saving the history of the town. One such resident was Martin Itjen (1870-1942), who ran a tour bus in the history rich town. Itjen saved the historic gold-rush cemetery (Boot Hill, purchased Soapy Smith’s saloon, and opened Skagway’s first museum. President Warren Harding, while holding office, visited Skagway in 1923. Thanks to Itjen’s efforts, and others like him, Skagway is a tourist destination today. It’s historical district has more than one hundred building dating back to the gold rush era. Martin Itjen came to Skagway in 1898 with the purpose of seeking gold. His life went another direction. Instead, he became the town’s undertaker, Ford dealer, coal deliveryman, tour director, and the unofficial town storyteller (historian). In fact, he gave President Harding a sight seeing tour of Skagway in his brightly painted motorized coal truck. He called the vehicle his “streetcar” and he continued these tours for decades. His tours were actually theatrical productions. They included mechanical actors, poetry, and comedy; all incorportated to present the history of Skagway and its residents. In 1935, in order to promote tourism for Skagway, Itjen and his “street car” visited Hollywood. When appearing with screen star, Mae West, he quipped she should “come up and visit him sometime”. These historical tours continue today. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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Published in: on December 15, 2020 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PORTRAIT OF MONTANA SENATOR THOMAS J. WALSH : MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO U.S. HISTORY

The year is 1928. The race is on for the Democratic nomination. This press photo (3/3/28) features U.S. Senator Thomas J. Walsh (1859-1933). At the time of the photo, he was vying for the nomination to represent the Democrats in the 1928 election. Walsh lost the nomination to New York Governor Al Smith. Smith subsequently lost the election to Republican Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. Walsh had sought the nomination as a “dry” candidate. In other words, he was a supporter of Prohibition. He also was noted  as a Senate prosecutor of the oil industry. Walsh was a lawyer politician who represented the state of Montana from 1913 to 1933. He was considered to be a liberal but that did not stop Franklin D. Roosevelt from selecting him to be the United States Attorney General. Unfortunately, Walsh died on a train as he headed to Roosevelt’s inauguration and never served in that role. If you are interested, I would suggest researching the details of the Senator’s demise. Was he murdered? You will find more than one conspiracy theory, and it’s an interesting story. Here are more biographical details about the Senator. During his career he had been a spokesman for President Woodrow Wilson in the Senate. He also was a supporter of Women’s suffrage, farm loans, the League of Nations, and the graduated income tax. During the 1920’s Walsh headed the Senate investigation into the Teapot Dome scandal (involved top officials of the Harding administration). In 1924 and 1932, he was the chairman of the Democratic Convention. Senator Thomas J. Walsh clearly played a major role in the US Senate and had significant impact on the nation. This vintage press photograph measures 5″ x 7″ and is in very good condition (see scans). If you think Senator Walsh appears intense in this photo, you are correct. Bob Brown, a Montana politician, states that there is no known photograph showing Walsh smiling. Brown’s comment appeared in an article he wrote for the Missoulian (1919).

Buy this Vintage Press Photo (includes shipping within the US) #2861

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$35.50

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