Klondike Gold Rush NHP plans restoration for Jeff. Smith Parlor
Contact: Cynthia Von Halle, 907-983-9206
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park recently hosted a two-day meeting to plan restoration and exhibits for the Jeff "Soapy" Smith Parlor Museum. This on-site visit to Skagway was important for the architects, engineers and designers to become familiar with the scope of the project and benefit from park staff expertise. This building was the headquarters Skagway's most infamous con-man during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Following Soapy's death, it was used as the Hook & Ladder Truck and Hose shed and located on 6th Ave. In 1935, Skagway resident and tourism promoter, Martin Itjen reopened it as Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum, and it became a highlight of Itjen's gold rush tours until his death in 1942.George Rapuzzi, Itjen's long time friend and a collector of gold rush memorabilia took over the museum and moved the building to its current location. The community will be invited to a workshop this spring to share their personal memories of going on a tour with either Martin Itjen or George Rapuzzi. Photographs are especially helpful since they show details that help maintain authentic treatment of the historic objects, their placement in the museum and the building itself. If you have information to share about this building, please contact Park Historian, Karl Gurcke, at (907) 983-9214.
Did You Know?
No gold was ever found in the Skagway River valley. The actual gold fields were approximately 550 miles north, near the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers in Dawson City. Skagway became known as the gateway to the Klondike gold fields, a bustling supply town.