Artifact Spotlight: Promotional Button

Round metal item with cm scale underneath it.
Small, metal button unearthed in 2013.

NPS photo

What is it?
This artifact is a small button that can be pinned on to fabric.

Where is it?
The button was just one of many found in the summer of 2013 during an archeological excavation near the Frye-Bruhn Refrigerated Warehouse building in Skagway, Alaska.  Today it is part of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park's archeological collection.

Metal button with partially obscured text
Close up of the font of the button.

NPS photo

Description
The buttons are approximately 2 inches across and made of metal.  Visible text reads "Hamilton K.C. Bridge" across the top, the number "90752" larger in the middle with "M-H-KCR" and "COS" under the number, and "Edmonton Canada" across the bottom.

More about these buttons
During excavation near the Frye-Bruhn Refrigerated Warehouse building, a large deposit was discovered. It looked to be mostly construction materials including tangled wire, porcelain insulators, rusty nails, glass fragments, a ball of foil, and several of these buttons. 

The park archeologists and historian concluded these buttons were not from the gold rush, but from another interesting time in Skagway's history: World War II.  

During WW II Skagway was invaded by the US military including the US Corps of Engineers. Their job was to construct the Alaskan Highway and the Canol pipeline. They leased the railroad and put gravel, Quonset Huts, other prefabricated buildings on every available spot of vacant land in Skagway. They also took over a lot of the old buildings in town and turned them over to their own uses. The Boss Bakery became a mess hall, Lynch and Kennedy served as barracks, and the Eagle's Hall became the USO.

Quonset huts in the snow.  One building has sign
Army Exchange in Skagway.

National Park Service, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Schuman S. Braender Collection, KLGO Digital Library

In addition to the military, there were at least three construction companies that set up shop in Skagway and helped construct the Alaskan Highway and the Canol pipeline. The private construction companies were: Metcalfe Construction Company, Hamilton Construction Company, and the Kansas City Bridge Company. There were construction camps all over town. The Northwest Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers was headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This button is associated with WWII and these three companies.

Men stand by ambulance watching a building burn.
Kansas City Bridge Company Fire in Skagway, Alaska 1944

National Park Service, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Schuman S. Braender Collection, KLGO Digital Library