• Nine men pose with gear at the Alaska-British Columbia border on the trail

    Klondike Gold Rush

    National Historical Park Alaska

Update on the Rapuzzi Collection: New Discoveries

1908 Packard engine
1908 Packard engine
NPS photo

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News Release Date: October 30, 2012
Contact: Cynthia Von Halle, 907-983-9206

Local Skagway car restorer Tobias Parsons recently identified the original motor to Martin Itjen's Street Car #1 while assisting National Park Service and Municipality of Skagway museum staff with inventory of the George and Edna Rapuzzi Collection. The Rapuzzi Collection contains a wide variety of vintage automotive parts, which sparked Parson's interest.Curator Samantha Richert asked Tobias to examine the Street Car, which is in the Klondike Gold Rush NHP museum collection, to see if he could identify any useful parts.Tobias' inspection of the Street Car's 1908 Packard chassis led to his identification of a matching 1908 Packard engine in the Rapuzzi Collection inventory, which Tobias and the park's museum team believe is the original Street Car engine."This is an exciting discovery and we're happy that Tobias has been able to help Samantha in looking through the auto parts of the collection," stated Superintendent Mike Tranel.

The Rapuzzi Collection, which includes an estimated 30,000 items and five historic buildings, contains many artifacts related to Martin Itjen, a Stampeder who later led Skagway's developing tourist trade. After Itjen's death in 1942, many of his belongings passed to his longtime friend, George Rapuzzi, who was a tourism promoter and guide as well as a consummate collector in his own right.The Rasmuson Foundation purchased the collection in 2007 and donated it to the Municipality of Skagway with the understanding that it would be processed jointly with Klondike Gold Rush NHP.Staff from both museums has been inventorying the collection for five years, and just completed inventorying the 11,000th item.The Skagway Museum director and the park's curator jointly review the inventory for items that would be appropriate for their collections, and approximately 6,000 items have been included in either the city or the park's museum collection.Inventory and research will continue on the collection this winter.

The buildings donated as part of the Rapuzzi Collection have also undergone significant restoration work since the Rasmuson Foundation's donation.The National Park Service has poured foundations and erected new roofs for the YMCA, Meyer's Meat Market, and

Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum.The City of Skagway has installed underground power and made safety improvements to the Commissary, and made minor stabilization repairs on the Rapuzzi/Dahl house. When restoration is completed, some buildings will include museum space for the Rapuzzi Collection to be prominently displayed. The Jeff. Smith's Parlor will showcase many artifacts from both the Itjen and Rapuzzi eras as they contribute to the "Soapy" story of Skagway's gold rush history.

Artifacts will continue to be featured in exhibits such as the upcoming Yuletide seasonal window display at the park headquarters, located in the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railway Depot on 2nd Avenue. Samantha stated, "I'm currently recruiting volunteers with expertise on trains."If you would like to help to assist with identifying train-related parts and equipment in the Rapuzzi Collection, please contact Samantha Richert at (907) 983-9222.

 The new park Face book page

http://www.facebook.com/KlondikeGoldRushAlaska also features many of the Rapuzzi Collection artifacts.

Did You Know?

Historic photo of Native Tlingit packer carring a pack of goods on his back, wearing Western gear

The Chilkoot Trail was an important trade route connecting the Tlingits with interior First Nation peoples long before the Klondike Gold Rush. Dyea or Deiyaa (Tlingit for "to pack") was a small Native settlement used as a fishing camp and staging area for trade expeditions to and from the interior.