Cycling Through History in Skagway and Dyea

Today, I cycled through the Gold Rush ghost town of Dyea, Alaska. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Today, Princess Cruises’ Star Princess arrived at our first port of call since setting sail from Seward three days ago: Skagway, Alaska.
In 1896, Skagway was nothing more than a few modest trapper’s cabins. By 1897, it was a rapidly expanding town and by 1898 it was the last frontier in a very new, and very competitive, Wild West. Sam Steele of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police likened Skagway to “little better than hell on earth” thanks to the con-men, good-time-girls and various scams and pratfalls that frequently befell prospectors looking to sail into the sunset with their winnings from the Klondike Gold Rush.

The View This Morning: a calm, quiet forward pool area as Star Princess comes alongside...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The View This Morning: a calm, quiet forward pool area as Star Princess comes alongside…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...at Skagway's Ore Dock. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…at Skagway’s Ore Dock. Holland America’s Noordam is at right. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The most notorious of these con-men was Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, a con-man from Denver who ruled Skagway with an iron fist. In addition to running a large racketeering ring in Skagway, Soapy would “relieve” early prospectors of their earnings through a series of rigged table games held at Jeff Smith’s Parlor, a modest structure that still stands today in Skagway. Soapy even had telegraph lines that ran only as far as the wall; perfect for sending that drunken expression o

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