Legacy of the Gold Rush:
An Administrative History of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
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Chapter 7:
Community Relations

The major ongoing program that the National Park Service has undertaken in Skagway has been the stabilization and rehabilitation of properties in the historic district. The agency, however, has played many additional roles in Skagway. It has, for example, considered (but later rejected) the purchase of several additional buildings and historical objects.

It has assisted the City of Skagway, and numerous private property owners, in the rehabilitation of historical properties. Finally, it has played a role in stimulating visitation to the area. In these and similar roles, the NPS has worked with city officials and local residents. The agency, in the fulfillment of its Congressional directives, has often enjoyed the support of local townspeople; at other times, however, city-park relations have been strained, contentious, and antagonistic. This chapter will attempt to describe the major park issues that have had impacts on Skagway and its residents.

Map 7. Two maps of Skagway, Alaska. Sources: NPS, Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, June/July 1996, 2.5 (left); Catherine Blee, Archeological Investigations in Skagway Alaska, Volume 2: The Moore Cabin and House, 1988, 4 (right). (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Master Plan Implementation Issues

Gary Higgins, the historical architect from the Denver Service Center, arrived in Skagway as the first NPS employee in January 1977. Almost immediately after he arrived, he was embroiled in a community issue. The White Pass & Yukon Railroad, a longtime steam railroad, adopted its first diesel-electric locomotives in 1954, and by 1964 the railroad had almost completely abandoned steam power. [1] Company officials had little use for the steam locomotives which remained, and soon after the park was authorized, they decided to sell off most of the locomotives.

The National Park Service had more than a passing interest in the railroad's actions. The park's master plan, approved in 1973, had called for a railroad line to

be reconstructed on Broadway, and rolling stock placed upon the rails to heighten the visitors' interest and create an authentic picture of historic Skagway. Class 50 and 70 engines could be placed on the rails, with several cars of the period attached. [2]

Steve Hites and Rand Snure, two "young, ambitious railroaders," told Higgins that five locomotives, with their accompanying tenders, were at the south end of the White Pass dock and were on the verge of being sold off. Two of the five locomotives were of the 70-class; there were also two 80-class locomotives and a rotary. Because of the verbiage in the master plan, railroad officials were willing to sell one or more locomotives to the NPS; if they did not act in a hurry, however, they would be shipped south. Higgins relayed Hites and Snure's concerns to the agency's regional office in Seattle. But James B. Thompson, the Associate Regional Director of Management and Operations, refused to fund a locomotive purchase. The White Pass, as a result, shipped the various locomotives to railroads in the Lower 48. [3]

Another idea that was originally formulated in the park's master plan dealt with visitor parking. The master plan had recommended that

during peak visitor hours, street parking would not be allowed on Broadway. To compensate for the loss of street parking and to accommodate an increasing number of visitor cars, the National Park Service would build at least four off-street parking lots, to which visitors would be directed.... As commercial business expands on State Street, it may become necessary for the city and merchants to provide additional off-street parking.

The location of the four areas proposed for parking included 1) between Second and Third Avenues, west of Spring Street, 2) between Third and Fourth avenues, midway between Broadway and State streets, 3) between Fourth and Fifth avenues, midway between Broadway and State streets, and 4) between Sixth and Seventh avenues, midway between Broadway and State streets. [4]

The NPS had no control over whether on-street parking could be allowed. With its land purchasing power, however, the agency was willing to purchase land for the four planned parking lots. In January 1978, city officials encouraged the NPS to proceed with its parking lot purchase program. [5] The agency responded by developing a plan, and that spring it presented the plan at a city council work session. At a subsequent public hearing, the consensus of the council and the citizens present was that the problem of giving tourists places to park was "not an emergency." The city, it appeared, was in no mood to give up its tax base in order to support a tourist infrastructure that had yet to manifest itself. The NPS could have ignored local opinion and purchased the lots. It decided, however, to abandon the idea, and the proposal has not been seriously considered since that time. [6]

Preservation Outreach Activities

As has been noted in Chapter 4, the NPS had begun to play an advisory role in the rehabilitation of Skagway's privately-owned historic structures during the early 1970s. Laurin Huffman, the historical architect at the NPS's Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Seattle, made periodic visits to Skagway starting in 1972. As part of those visits, he gave technical advice to local residents and provided counsel to the newly-created Historic District Commission. Huffman continued to fulfill those roles until the park was authorized in June 1976. Shortly afterwards, however, the City of Skagway eliminated the Historic District Commission and subsumed its functions within the Planning, Zoning, and Historic Commission. Historical Architect Gary Higgins, the first park staffer, took over the role that Huffman had previously filled.

On November 15, 1977, Higgins and Superintendent Richard Hoffman gave a presentation to the Skagway City Council and Library Board, outlining the Park Service's plans for the Skagway Historic District. Mayor Robert F. Messegee, who attended the meeting, knew that visitors cared little about who owned the various buildings, and he wanted city property owners to share in the NPS's technical expertise. Messegee therefore responded by telling Hoffman that "it would be mutually beneficial that a symposium be scheduled with representation from other agencies--federal, state, and private--which work in the field of historic preservation." He urged Hoffman to arrange such a symposium. [7]

Hoffman recognized that the NPS was the logical entity "to play a lead role in the over-all preservation of all historic resources," and assigned Higgins the job of organizing the conference. Higgins responded by organizing two meetings: a small, evening workshop conducted by park staff, and a larger conference in which outside speakers would be invited. Higgins and Hoffman held the first preservation workshop in late February before a packed audience at the Skagway City Hall. [8]

Meanwhile, Higgins organized a second conference, to be held a month later. To accomplish that goal, he contacted the State Historic Preservation Officer, William Hanable, and other representatives of Alaska DNR's Division of Parks. He also wrote to Mike Miller, Jim Duncan, and Steve Cowper, each of whom served in the Alaska House of Representatives; Robertson Collins and John L. Frisbee, from the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Ron Neeley, from Colorado's Georgetown Society; Steve Peterson, from the Bureau of Land Management; John Kinney, the State Archivist; Bob Frederick, the Director of the Alaska Historical Commission; Alan Munro, Chief Curator of the Alaska State Museum; and Stell Newman, an anthropologist from the NPS's Alaska Area Office in Anchorage. All agreed to attend the symposium or send a delegate in their stead. [9]

The symposium was scheduled for the end of March. Its timing was fortunate, because Miller and Duncan were co-sponsors of the Historic Loan Act of 1977, which provided for preservation loans to historic properties. In addition, the state's Division of Parks was administering a Historic Preservation Grants-in-Aid Program which had recently provided a grant to Skagway's Pack Train Inn. That grant, combined with letters from Hanable to the other historic property owners, stimulated a high level of conference interest from local residents. [10]

The two-day symposium was held in the American Legion Hall and began on Friday morning, March 31. Its theme was "Historic Preservation Assistance to the Private Sector," and the program included speakers describing the National Register of Historic Places, the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office (and its grants program), the proposed Historic District Loan Act, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Additional sessions were held on how preservation was being effected in Fort Egbert and Eagle, Alaska; Jacksonville, Oregon; and Georgetown, Colorado. Finally, museum curators and archivists presented a combined session on artifact preservation. The meeting, by all accounts, was successful and well-received by those who attended. [11]

Many local residents, perhaps in response to the information received at the two conferences, rehabilitated their properties during the next few years. In 1978, for example, John O'Daniel modernized the Skagway Inn, and Gordon Reno began work on the Mulvihill House. In 1979, Barbara Kalen and Betsy Albecker began to rehabilitate Keller's Curio Shop, and Nova Warner submitted plans to stabilize the White House at Eighth Avenue and Main Street. In 1980, Janice C. Wrentmore began an extensive rehabilitation project at the Red Onion Saloon; in addition, restoration work commenced that year at First Presbyterian Church, at City Hall, and at the National Bank of Alaska (NBA). [12] A year later, the Brena family, after some delay, restored the Pack Train Inn; other rehabilitation projects begun that year included the Trail Bench curio shop, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall, and the Elizabeth Selmer residence at 12th and Main. Finally, in 1982, local businesswoman Barbara Kalen rehabilitated, and added a second story to, Dedman's Photo Shop. Most of these projects were completed by the end of the 1982 summer season; work on the Eagles Hall, however, continued until 1984. [13]

Federal assistance was a key aspect to the town's rehabilitation efforts. Funds for each of the above projects, except for the NBA, Trail Bench, and Dedman's Photo Shop work, was obtained through the state's grant-in-aid program; that program, which called for a 50-50 match between public and private monies, was financed with National Historic Preservation Act funds, funneled through the Interior Department's Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (later the National Park Service) and managed by the State Historic Preservation Office. In addition, the NPS gave technical assistance. David Snow, the resident architect, provided restoration advice to the city on its City Hall work, to Kalen on the Dedman's Photo Shop expansion, and to the Fraternal Order of Eagles for the restoration of its hall. [14] This aid has continued, on an as-needed basis, to the present day.

Creation of a City-NPS Cooperative Agreement

An issue that proved to be longstanding and contentious was the city's financial relationship with the National Park Service. NPS properties, like those of other federal agencies, could not be taxed by local authorities. NPS officials recognized, however, that the city would need to receive some form of alternative compensation in order to replace its lost tax base.

Skagway city officials were concerned about the potential tax losses before the park was ever authorized. John Bowers, Skagway's first city manager, alerted agency officials about the problem back in 1974. In return, Deputy Regional Director Edward J. Kurtz told him,

we share the concerns of private business owners and that of the city regarding an inequity which might develop if federal properties in the historic district were leased back to private individuals and they paid no tax to the city. Accordingly, some form of a lessee tax or business occupancy tax could be established by the city. The amount charged could be similar to that paid by a private business owner within the business district. [15]

Two years later, shortly after the park was authorized, Congress passed H.R. 9719, a bill which dealt with payments in lieu of taxes. That bill, which became Public Law 94-465, prescribed specific payment levels to local governments in order to compensate for federal land purchases. The NPS, during the months which followed, continued to work closely with the city to develop an equitable federal financial assistance formula. [16]

By the fall of 1977, the NPS land purchasing program was well underway, and tensions between the city and federal governments began to increase. Mavis Henricksen, a member of the city council, complained that the agency was "taking a lot of our tax base out of here." Gary Higgins countered that the agency was authorized to make "grants in lieu of taxes" to replace lost revenues. But city officials said that the payments would not come close to matching future tax contributions, and their well-publicized pronouncements cast a palpable strain between the NPS and the city. Higgins assured city council members that any loss of property taxes would be more than offset by the additional receipts brought in by an increased tourist volume. City officials, however, were unconvinced. As Superintendent Hoffman noted, council members at a December work session "put it to us hot and heavy" on the tax loss issue. [17]

Despite assurances to the contrary from the NPS, the city council continued to feel vulnerable on the tax-base issue, and it sought help from the Alaska congressional delegation in hopes that the agency might increase its proposed payment level. In response, Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) introduced a bill on February 22, S. 2558, which sought to preserve the town's tax base. The measure would have allowed the federal government to make payments in lieu of taxes for a five-year period. The measure, however, never got past the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. [18]

Given the failure of Gravel's bill, negotiations between the NPS and the city continued, and by late summer the NPS had hammered out a proposed cooperative agreement. The agreement, which was presented to the city at a September 7 council meeting, called for the NPS to pay the city more than $58,000 during fiscal year 1979. That money, which needed no local match, was to be expended as follows:

$15,000 for boardwalk repairs,
$10,200 for city archives and museum management,
$ 9,000 for water, sewer, and garbage services,
$ 8,000 for Gold Rush Cemetery maintenance,
$ 6,000 for Arctic Brotherhood Hall repairs,
$ 5,400 for police and fire protection, and
$ 5,000 for streets (grading, drainage, and dust control).

NPS personnel, in their letter of presentation, noted that the proposed cooperative agreement was not a "payment in lieu of taxes." (The assessed taxes on the newly-acquired NPS buildings totalled less than $7,000.) Instead, the agency proposed a quantum meriut agreement--one that paid for specific city-sponsored services that supported park objectives. Park staff assured the council that the agency intended to continue making annual payments for years to come. They noted, however, that the payments for boardwalk repairs would continue only for another three years. They further noted that they were interested in using the Arctic Brotherhood Hall as a temporary visitor center and that the repair funds would be contingent upon the city's acceptance of the NPS's visitor-center proposal. The payments for the Gold Rush cemetery were used to fulfill a cooperative agreement which the NPS and the city had made previously; as a result of that agreement, NPS personnel had picked up garbage at the cemetery during the 1978 summer season, and were proposing to install handrails and restore headstones, gates, and fences. [19]

The city had little time in which to contemplate the agency's offer. The NPS asked city officials to either accept the entire cooperative agreement before the end of the fiscal year, or forego the proffered funds. The city council had only one remaining meeting that month. On September 21, therefore, the city council met again and voted to accept the cooperative agreement. [20]

The city council vote, however, did not complete the agreement process. NPS staff spent the months which followed developing its specific details and ironing out its legalities. The following June, the local press announced that the NPS had "finalized and approved" the cooperative agreement that the city had accepted the previous September. By this time, the level of NPS payments had been reduced to $45,000. Each of the outlined services was still to be funded at the same level as before. The new figure, however, did not include an $8,000 payment for Gold Rush Cemetery maintenance, because the NPS agreed to fund that activity out of its regular park budget. In addition, it omitted the $6,000 for Arctic Brotherhood Hall repairs. The NPS, in response to the city's agreement to turn the AB Hall into an agency visitor center, decided to undertake those repairs itself. [21]

Although the agreement was said to be "finalized and approved" in June, in reality it was not. In August, almost a year after the city voted to accept it, Superintendent Hoffman disclosed that the agreement was still in the regional NPS solicitor's office in Seattle. Because of the holdup, the NPS had not yet paid the city. Local officials, as a result, became incensed at the agency's apparent delaying tactics. On August 30, the local Lynn Canal News reported that "council members have become impatient lately, and have even threatened to cut off services to park buildings if the money is not forthcoming." Marvin Taylor, one of the councilmen, declared that "if a petition were passed around Skagway today, 80 percent of the citizens would be in favor of seeing the park service leave Skagway and abandon the [park]. I, for one, am completely disillusioned with them." Taylor, obviously exasperated, noted that by not coming up with the money, the NPS was erasing the "good faith cooperation" that the city had extended to the park. [22]

In the midst of this negative atmosphere, the NPS asked the city council to approve a renewal of the cooperative agreement it had signed a year earlier. The agency, once again, was slow in delivering the proposed agreement; it gave the council less than a month to approve the document before the end of the fiscal year. On September 6, the city council considered the matter. Richard Hoffman, who represented the NPS at the meeting even though Richard Sims had already been appointed to succeed him, apologized for the agency's delay; he said that changes in the administration in the Anchorage area office, and the unique nature of the cooperative agreement, had slowed down the approval process. Hoffman, sensing the council's hostile mood, noted that the body did not have to approve an update of the entire agreement that night. In order to receive (eventual) payment from the agency, it needed only to approve the signing of various contracts which the NPS was offering for specific services. The council, in response, voted 3 to 1 in favor of signing those contracts. Four votes, however, were needed for passage, and the agenda item was tabled. Two weeks later, the motion was reconsidered and passed, and Skagway Mayor Robert Messegee signed the agency's various service contracts. [23]

Four months later, the proposed cooperative agreement finally completed its circuitous pathway through the NPS hierarchy and was presented to the city council. [24] The agreement, signed by the NPS on January 30, gave responsibilities to both the park service and the city. The city, with the funding given it by the NPS, agreed to "plan and initiate a system for the adequate storage, protection, exhibition, microfilming and preservation of museum and archival materials and to make these materials available to the NPS for research and interpretive programs..." Second, it agreed to "maintain the historic atmosphere on Broadway and adjacent streets within the Historic District and provide for surface drainage improvements and dust control." Third, it agreed to provide services to NPS properties for water and sewage and solid waste disposal. Fourth, the city was to provide police and fire protection and similar measures. Finally, the city would "construct, restore and maintain boardwalks in the Historic District according to agreed-upon design and specifications."

The NPS also had numerous responsibilities under the agreement. The federal agency agreed to provide technical assistance to the city in support of the museum and to help preserve the local historic atmosphere. The NPS was also to provide the city with unspecified infrastructure support, with assistance to the city for police, fire, and boardwalk design, and similar services. Finally, it would provide for the "operation, maintenance, and historic preservation" of the Arctic Brotherhood Hall; it would provide the chamber of commerce an "adequate space" there, and make the hall available for compatible community activities. (The NPS, abandoning a task it had undertaken in 1978, made no mention of Gold Rush Cemetery maintenance in the agreement.) If signed by the city, the agreement would be in force beginning March 1, 1980. It would remain for five years unless revoked by either party. [25]

The city, by this time, had been paid by the NPS, and local officials evidently found the terms of the cooperative agreement both agreeable and uncontroversial. On February 21, the council voted to accept it, and City Manager Gil Acker signed the agreement the next day. The forging of an agreement, which had begun in earnest during the fall of 1977, was at long last complete. [26]

During the years since the first signing, the city and the NPS have maintained their cooperative agreement. The original pact was renewed on May 26, 1983, again on May 26, 1988, and a third time on September 20, 1993. Each of those agreements have been for a five year period. The service areas covered in the agreement have remained relatively constant. The former area allotted to street maintenance was changed to "maintenance of the historic atmosphere," and in 1988, the agency agreed to allot funds to the community education program. The NPS ceased its financial support to the police and fire departments in 1988.

The amount of the agency's annual payment has been renegotiated by the two parties each year. From October 1, 1980 through September 30, 1984, the NPS paid $35,080 annually. At that point, Superintendent Sims recognized that the Broadway paving project (see below) would require reduced street maintenance expenses; City Manager Skip Elliott, however, countered that inflation and other factors had increased overall costs. The two agreed on an annual payment of $32,000. That rate remained constant until fiscal year 1987. When the cooperative agreement was renegotiated in early 1988, the annual payment was reduced to $28,000 and remained at that rate through 1991. Since then, the NPS has paid the city $30,000 per year. [27]

Skagway Area Campground Assistance

As noted in chapters 3 and 4, the number of automobile tourists that visited the Skagway area prior to the 1970s was relatively small. In June 1973, however, Canadian officials announced that they would cooperate with their American counterparts in the construction of a road between Carcross, Yukon Territory, and Skagway.

That decision, combined with the rising number of tourists that arrived in Skagway on the Alaska Marine Highway and the increased number that would be attracted by a national park unit, made local officials aware that the Skagway area was sadly lacking in campground facilities for visitors who arrived by car. In the Final Environmental Statement (FES) that was written in 1974, NPS officials recognized that the new park might dramatically increase tourism. They therefore offered to "provide cooperatively planned campsites...for recreational use by park visitors since the park units are not of sufficient size to...meet all demand for facilities." The only new campgrounds planned within park boundaries, however, were of the walk-in variety. They believed that the construction of drive-in campground units was a new economic opportunity for the private sector. [28]

In 1976, NPS officials attempted to implement the ideas brought forth in the FES. That January, City Council member Mavis I. Henricksen requested that the NPS begin planning for campground facilities. Various agency officials, in fact, discussed the matter in the weeks that followed, and in April Glacier Bay National Monument superintendent J. Thomas Ritter requested that "a complete study of potential campground facilities in the Dyea area be conducted soon after establishment of the park." By August 1976, Ritter had made a brief reconnaissance. He observed that the small, 7-space state campground at Liarsville (located along the Klondike Highway at the base of the hill to Black Lake) was "often full," and recommended to his superior that "planning and coordination with the State of Alaska to provide adequate campground space begin immediately." [29]

In 1977, the City of Skagway helped ease the campground problem when it doubled the size of Hanousek Park (Prospector Park) at the north end of Broadway. That same year, the Alaska Division of Parks awarded a planning grant for a new Skagway-area campground to Warren E. Wild, a retired highway department official now working as a Juneau consultant. Dick Hoffman, the new superintendent, offered to assist Wild with his study. [30]

Wild's study was completed in January 1978. It offered six possible sites for a campground in the Skagway area: four along the Klondike Highway (the Liarsville site and three others, all north of the Skagway River bridge), one at Yakutania Point, and one in Dyea, near West Creek. The City Council, after considering the study, recommended that the proposed campground be located at the site of the World War II-era sanitarium (north of the Liarsville campground). But the NPS urged the state to select closer to town, near the intersection of the Klondike Highway and Dyea Road. [31]

Mike Miller, an Alaska House member who represented Skagway, responded to the study by promising to introduce legislation that would authorize and fund a campground. Jim Duncan, his Juneau-based colleague, introduced such a bill (HB 764) on February 8; the same day, Bill Ray, who also served the Skagway area, introduced an identical bill (SB 473) in the State Senate. [32]

Governor Hammond, however, was opposed to the passage of either bill. During his review of the State Parks' Capital Improvement Program request, he decided to drop the campground idea from the list of proposals submitted to him. [33] Instead, he initiated efforts to secure federal funding for the project. On February 14, he wrote a long letter to Senator Stevens "requesting [his] assistance in furthering state and federal cooperative efforts at Skagway." Noting that "it is all too evident that existing camping facilities in the Skagway area will be overwhelmed by recreational travelers once the Carcross Road is opened to public use," he concluded that "the state has determined that this responsibility [for providing campground facilities] rests mostly with the NPS." He recognized that immediate action was needed, but noted that Alaska's state park funds had been allocated through 1981. Noting that a campground would probably cost between $800,000 and $1 million and that the NPS was ill-equipped to fund a campground with existing funds, Hammond urged Stevens to secure additional NPS funding for the project. [34]

When Stevens received Hammond's letter, he contacted Terry McWilliams, the Alaska State Parks director. Stevens was sympathetic to Hammond's request, so to help solve the problem, he asked McWilliams to fund $98,000 of the cost for the proposed campground. The requested amount was sufficient to purchase any of the six sites that Wild had outlined in his study, and as Stevens had discovered, the state needed to bear that expense because the NPS was legally unable to assist in the acquisition of land outside designated park boundaries. The NPS did, however, have the authority to fund construction of campground facilities outside the park. Meanwhile, Stevens requested the Interior Department to provide the remaining funds necessary for campground construction. He hoped to use the project as a trade-off item during d-2 negotiations that would be taking place later that year. [35]

After his meeting with Stevens, McWilliams forwarded the proposed plan to Ray and Duncan. Ray's bill, the more active of the two, had by now been passed by the Senate State Affairs Committee, and the plan was submitted to the Senate Finance Committee in the form of a fiscal note. On March 7, the committee passed the bill, which now called for $98,000 to be expended on site planning, design, engineering, or acquisition; three days later, SB 473 passed the full Senate on a 15-0 vote and was forwarded to the House. The bill was then moved through the Resources Committee where it languished until May 8. The House Finance Committee amended the bill before passing it that day. It passed the full House, 31-5, on May 15. It then was sent back to the Senate where the amended bill passed, 15-0. The bill was then sent to Governor Hammond, who signed the bill on May 31. [36]

The state, as a result of the legislature's action, had lived up to its end of the agreement reached by Stevens and McWilliams. The Interior Department, however, was unable to supply Federal funds in response to Stevens' request, perhaps because of the failure to arrive at a consensus on Alaska Lands Act legislation. The state, in response, decided to recommend a new campground site north of the White Pass rail yards and west of the Gold Rush Cemetery. It made no move, however, to develop the site. [37]

The NPS, as noted in Chapter 8, partially solved the campground problem in April 1978 when it signed a cooperative agreement with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The primary purpose of that agreement was to arrange for NPS management of the Chilkoot Trail corridor. One provision of the agreement, however, noted that "The Service has the capability of providing facility maintenance, site and visitor protection, and other related management activities in the Skagway area." Based on that provision, the NPS began maintaining the state's Liarsville wayside that summer. A year later, it constructed a 22-space campground in Dyea, one-half mile south of the Taiya River bridge. The NPS continued to maintain Liarsville until 1980, when it refused to provide further work there; thereafter, the site was abandoned by the state. The Service still maintains Dyea Campground. [38]

Officials still recognized, however, that the Skagway Valley still needed more camping spaces. Based on that need, the legislature during the spring of 1980 allocated $250,000 to construct a campground. Alaska State Parks director Chip Dennerlein, in response, selected a site a mile northeast of the WP&YR shops; more specifically, the proposed site was north of Reid Falls, east of the Skagway River and west of the WP&YR tracks. Dennerlein hoped to extend the existing road 700 feet to the new campground site. In addition, the state planned to erect a well and latrine. [39] Later that year, however, Dennerlein changed his mind. After visiting the site in September, he concluded that the campground would cost more than the allotted $250,000; besides, he noted, it was too far away for campers who wanted to walk to town. He averred that it would have been better had the city purchased more land for camping adjacent to Hanousek Park, the existing city park, and he hinted that state assistance might be available for either obtaining or improving that property. No state action followed, however, and it was not until 1984 that new campground space was opened in the downtown area. The city, that year, improved land along the waterfront near the White Pass dock and opened Pullen Creek Park, a recreational vehicle camper park. [40]

Proposed Railroad Equipment Purchases

As noted earlier in the chapter, one of the agency's first management challenges took place in early 1977 in conjunction with the proposed purchase of White Pass & Yukon Route equipment. The NPS, at that time, chose not to go ahead with any purchases, and the equipment was sold to private parties and shipped south.

In 1979, the issue of purchasing railroad equipment was revived, largely at the behest of Western Regional Office historian Gordon Chappell. In January of that year, apparently in hopes of fulfilling the mandates of the master plan, he submitted a proposal to Area Historian Bill Brown to obtain a historically authentic locomotive. Having heard that a model nearly identical to one used on the WP&YR had recently sold at auction for $62,500, Chappell urged that the area office consider the exhumation of one or more historic locomotives that had been buried by the railroad in 1949 and used as trackside riprap. Said Chappell, "It shouldn't cost $62,500 to pull two or three of them out and give them a cosmetic restoration!" [41]

Six months later, Chappell visited Skagway as part of the effort that resulted in the National Register nomination and Historic Structure Report for the depot complex. By the time he arrived, he had learned that the railroad had decided to offer one of its cars--#216, a combination baggage car and coach--to the NPS. In a letter to Superintendent Hoffman, Chappell urged that the park acquire the railroad car. By doing so, he reasoned, the equipment would remain in Skagway, and local attitudes toward the NPS, then at an ebb, would be bound to rise. The park, however, did not act on the matter, and the railroad withdrew its offer. [42]

During the fall of 1979, Brown discovered that the railroad, as part of a modernization drive, intended in the coming months to rid itself of all of its outdated freight equipment. During the past few months, it had already hauled several cars down to Vancouver and was planning to auction them off. WP&YR president Tom King, however, told the NPS that the railroad would be willing to donate a tool car (#708) to the agency; in addition, he promised to work with the NPS to create a static display in Skagway. [43]

Brown, clearly alarmed by the turn of events, relayed his concerns to Area Director John Cook. Cook, in turn, asked Robert Spude to prepare a briefing package on the matter that would be forwarded to NPS Director William J. Whalen. (The director's help was needed because neither the park nor the area office had the necessary funds for railroad equipment.) Spude, at the time, was on the verge of leaving the agency, so Gordon Chappell was asked to write the report. [44]

By mid-January 1980, Chappell had forwarded an extensive memo to Area Director Cook. In his memo to Whalen, Cook noted that because of the railroad's disposal program, "key pieces may be irretrievably lost...unless we move rapidly." He urged that the agency preserve "at least a symbolic display of rolling stock." The railroad, at this time, was willing to donate the buried locomotives to the park; the freight equipment, however, would need to be purchased. [45]

For the next several months, the Washington office gave little response as to how it would react. During that time, Chappell called on the NPS to obtain Engine #52, a gold rush-era locomotive that, as noted in Chapter 3, had been hauled from the Atlin area to Skagway in 1964. He also recommended the acquisition of one or more of the buried locomotives, passenger car #216, the tool car, one or two low-side gondolas, one or two wooden flat cars, and an oil tank car. [46]

The WP&YR, during this period, was still willing to negotiate with the Park Service. Months passed by, however, and no word was heard from Washington. By August, WP&YR official Marvin Taylor expressed his restlessness on the matter to NPS officials. Area office historian Bill Brown replied that the change in NPS directors--from William Whalen to Russell Dickenson--was most likely causing the delay. [47]

By late October the directorate had still not tipped its hand, and Brown inquired once again on its status. Brown, who recognized the lack of funds for cultural resource projects in the state, noted to his superior that "our marginal preservation maintenance approach and resource base in Alaska...argues against a large commitment to rolling stock. We can't handle what we now own; why exacerbate our inadequacy?" Russell Dickenson, the new director, agreed. Due a combination of budget limitations and a change in management objectives, the agency would not purchase any railroad equipment; instead, the WP&YR would be interpreted through exhibits in the White Pass depot. [48]

Since 1980, there have been no serious attempts by the NPS to purchase WP&YR equipment. As a result, the WP&YR has sold some of its equipment but kept others. As late as 1986, for example, the Skagway yards still retained two historic locomotives, 21 historic passenger coaches, and 26 historic freight cars. [49] Some of that rolling stock has since been donated to the city's Trail of '98 Museum.

The government's policy toward the purchase of rolling stock has softened in recent years. In 1982, the park's Scope of Collections Statement noted that "no railroad rolling stock or large scale objects are proposed for collection due to their extreme cost for preservation, storage and acquisition." Six years later, however, the revised collections statement indicated that "The preservation and restoration of some historic railroad rolling stock or other large scale objects associated with the WP&YR should be undertaken pending availability and funding. However, consideration must also be given for the object's storage and maintenance cost." [50]

Proposed Skagway Building Purchases

As noted in Chapter 5, the NPS agents who negotiated with property owners in the Skagway Historic District from 1977 through 1979 let it be known that they would be willing to purchase any historic properties offered by willing sellers at fair market value. They were unable to come to terms, however, with the owners of two major historical properties, the Pack Train Inn and the Pullen House.

The Pack Train Inn, erected in 1908 by Skagway's mayor, was one of Skagway's most visible and best-known properties. Since 1950, the tavern had been operated by the Brena family. But Camillo "McGee" Brena, the tavern's operator and "a living legend in his own time," according to the local press, had died in 1968. Five years later, when the park's master plan was being prepared, owner Sheila Brena (McGee's widow) had indicated an interest in selling the property to the National Park Service. [51] During the mid-1970s, Brena and her son, Robin, considered a number of options for the property: selling it at an auction, restoring the building with historic preservation grant funds, or selling it to the National Park Service. [52] They exercised none of those options, and in the meantime, they closed their tavern. By the time the park was authorized and NPS agents were capable of purchasing the structure, David Brena had decided to restore the building with Historic Preservation Grants-in-Aid Program funds, and not sell it to the NPS. That Grant-in-Aid Program, administered by the state's Division of Parks, provided funds on a 50-50 matching basis in January 1978. Work was to begin that May. [53]

The project, however, turned out to be more complicated than previously thought, and the owners needed to make three fund requests for planning and stabilization work. [54] In April 1981, the $240,000 rehabilitation finally got underway, with Long Bay Construction Company as contractor. The NPS played a role in the project. Architect Dave Snow helped Robin Brena with the restoration plans, and the agency lent Brena its jacks and conveyor. The project was completed that summer. [55]

Another property that the NPS did not obtain was the Pullen House, located at the east end of Sixth Avenue in Skagway. The Pullen House, operated by Harriet "Ma" Pullen, had been one of Alaska's best-known lodging houses during the first half of the twenti-eth century; the presence of, and the legends surrounding, Ms. Pullen made the parcel one of the territory's most historically significant properties. In 1959, however, the hotel closed, and for the next six years, Pullen's heirs were unable to pay taxes on it. In 1966, McGee and Sheila Brena purchased the property, with hopes of restoring the old structure. [56]

By the late 1960s, the hotel and its annex buildings had been closed for a decade, and the Brenas belatedly recognized that they did not have sufficient funds to restore the property. Park planners who investigated the property during this period had no illusions regarding the buildings' restoration possibilities. The Skagway Alternatives Study, written in 1969, noted that "the big proud old hotel is beyond redemption and lies warped and sunken on its crumbling foundations. The neighboring structures on the estate are almost equal in their disrepair." Two years later, NPS planner Douglas Cornell made an equally pessimistic assessment of the structure, noting that

the building appears beyond restoration--at least for any value received.... I would recommend that the buildings be removed--possibly retaining foundations (if there are any, which is doubtful) and the area be developed as a pleasant park with interpretation of the role of the Pullen House and Moore Homestead.... A "Period" Hotel could also be developed on this property in harmony with the Historic District. [57]

Later voices were slightly more optimistic. The 1973 master plan called for the structures to be restored by parties other than the NPS, although the 1976 plan revision called for the agency to "stabilize the ... ruins, restore the grounds, and provide means of interpreting the site and its remaining structures." [58]

In July 1978, appraisers who visited Skagway on the agency's behalf noted that the Pullen buildings were "in extremely poor condition" and in a "current state of utter disrepair;" as a result, the parcel was considered "effectively vacant," and the improvements were of no value to the property, whose highest and best use was considered to be multiple residential use. [59] Despite that glum report, the NPS land agents still hoped to purchase the property. They offered the Brenas fair market value, but were refused. Still interested, the NPS agents in July 1978 sweetened the pot, and offered a reported $166,900 for the property. But the Brenas, who had recently been awarded historic preservation funds for the Pack Train, refused again, apparently hoping that they could rehabilitate the Pullen House using state funds. After their second rebuff, the NPS abandoned its attempt to purchase the property. The Brenas continued to request restoration funds from the state, but gave up their efforts in 1981, when Reagan administration officials reduced funds for federally-subsidized restoration projects. [60] According to Robin Brena, the NPS withdrew from negotiations either because it was uncertain if it would have money for restoration, or because the Reagan administration sliced funds for land acquisition. Brena later told an NPS official that "we were very close to agreement when Reagan was elected. At the time, the NPS was unsure if funds for restoration would be available under the new Reagan administration. In large part due to the uncertainty in funding, the negotiations ceased." [61]

A decade later, in August 1989, another attempt was made to sell the Pullen House to the NPS. By that time, the house was on the verge of collapse; the condition of the Fifth Avenue Hotel portion was particularly critical. Robin Brena, who worked as an attorney, contacted Superintendent Clay Alderson about the property. In a subsequent letter, Brena concluded that "this is the last opportunity to save" the house, and appealed to the NPS "to do everything it can to ensure that such a valuable historic resource is not lost to Skagway and the State of Alaska." Brena would not donate the property. He would, however, either 1) donate the structure and lease the land for $1 per year, 2) donate the structure and sell the land for fair market value, or 3) "negotiate any reasonable transaction with the NPS to preserve the Pullen House." [62]

Alderson was fully cognizant of the property's condition. Even so, he hoped that the agency could purchase and stabilize it, citing its "high historic value." [63] He surveyed the property and contacted regional lands and cultural resource officials. Charles Gilbert, regional lands division chief, noted that the park would have to determine if the purchase was in the public interest. Regional Historian Kate Lidfors, meanwhile, stated that a feasibility study would be necessary before a purchase took place. [64]

Based on the purchase possibilities, an NPS team consisting of Clay Alderson, Kate Lidfors, and Historical Architect Steve Peterson surveyed the property in early September. After considering a stabilization option and the building of a replica, the team rejected both possibilities. They concluded that the best option was to remove the building, restore the grounds, and create an interpretive park. Based on that visit, the NPS offered to the Brenas an estimated $150,000-$200,000 for the property. But as Alderson later noted, "We just were never able to offer a price that was attractive enough to the seller." [65]

After that point, the deterioration of the Pullen House accelerated. By October 1990, the Historic District Commission had approved, and the Skagway City Council had issued, a demolition order which called for the removal of the northern (Fifth Avenue Hotel) portion. Both bodies suggested, however, that the main house be saved. The demolition of the northern wing was delayed until December 11. When the H&H Construction crew arrived to do the job, they apparently failed to separate the two hotel sections; they likewise failed to stabilize any portion of the older (southern) portion of the hotel. As a result, when the crew's backhoe began to demolish the northern end, more and more of the original main building was exposed and began to cave in. Owner Sheila Brena, who observed the proceedings, told the crew to finish what they had begun. The next day, therefore, they knocked down and carted away the rest of the building. [66]

The building's demolition did not signal the end of the NPS's interest in the property. Brena was still hopeful that the land could be sold for an interpretive center that would display hotel photographs. The agency, since then, has continued to show an interest. In February 1993, the Alaska Regional Director approved a task directive for a cultural resource assessment of an area which includes the so-called "Pullen House Sites." That assessment was completed in September 1995. [67] The year 1993 also witnessed a brief flurry of correspondence between the Brenas, the NPS, and Senator Stevens about the property, with inconsequential results. Since then, the agency has taken no further action toward the purchase of the Pullen House property. [68]

In addition to considering the purchase of large buildings such as the Pack Train and the Pullen House, the NPS has shown an interest in small structures, too. One such structure, a gold rush-era prostitute's crib located on Alaska Street near Fourth Avenue, became known to park staff in early 1980. A local resident offered the building to park officials, but only if the transaction could be completed by March 30, 1980. The resident hoped that the donation would be part of a land trade. The trade, however, was never completed, and the NPS did not acquire it. [69]

The NPS Acquires an Administrative Site

The framers of the park act recognized the necessity for an administrative site located away from the Broadway historic district. As a result, the park's master plan stated that the agency "will require housing and maintenance facilities in or near Skagway, outside the park boundaries. Up to 15 acres of land outside the park could eventually be required for maintenance, housing, and administrative facilities." In response to that need, Public Law 94-323 authorized the Secretary of the Interior "to acquire outside the boundaries of the park...not to exceed fifteen acres of land or interests therein located in, or in the vicinity of, the city of Skagway, Alaska, for an administrative site..." [70]

During the first several years of the park's existence, little was done to obtain such a site. [71] In February 1980, however, the idea arose as part of the planning effort for the agency's buildings in the historic district. Wilfred Logan, from the Denver Service Center, thought that it would be better to have the park administered from an off-site location than to use the agency's buildings in the historic district for administrative purposes. Bill Brown, another meeting participant, urged the purchase of an administrative site, but for a different purpose. Brown wanted to see the site used as a much-needed utility and maintenance area; in addition, artifact storage would take place there.

During the next few months, most of the needs outlined for the administrative site were addressed in other park locations. Dave Snow, the new historical architect, directed that the White Pass depot complex would serve as the park headquarters. He likewise decided that the Pantheon Saloon, also in the historic district, would serve as the park's utility and maintenance area. That same year, Interpretive Specialist Dave Cohen decided that the two-story depot safe would serve as the artifact storage area. [72]

The administrative site idea, however, had taken hold and would not disappear. Community relations, to a large part, were responsible for its creation. As has been noted previously, the NPS had placed a single-wide mobile home behind the Pantheon Saloon shortly after the park had been authorized, and several NPS employees had resided there since then. When Richard Sims assumed the superintendency in September 1979, he and his wife Phyllis occupied the trailer. Local residents were offended that the superintendent, a highly-paid employee, should be living in a government-subsidized facility within clear view of the town's busiest street. More important, the existence of the trailer in the historic district violated the provisions of the recently-passed ordinance that demanded the removal of all mobile homes south of 15th Avenue. The eruption of a minor issue, concerning the vacant lot west of the Pantheon, caused civic attention to be focused on the superintendent's trailer. [73]

Shortly afterward the NPS began to seek out an administrative site, primarily as a residential site for Superintendent Sims and his wife. In mid-December 1980, the agency purchased 0.34 acres of improved land at 14th Avenue and Main Street. (A double-wide trailer was already located on the property; it had been moved there in 1975.) The sellers were Lawrence and Mary Pagnac; the purchase price was $80,000. Largely in response to pressure from Deputy Regional Director Douglas Warnock, the Simses moved to the administrative site shortly afterward, and the single-wide trailer was moved from Skagway to Denali National Park. [74]

Local residents, whose ire toward the superintendent had been aroused the previous summer, were angry that the newly-purchased administrative site was being used for non-administrative purposes. "Skip" Elliott, the newly-appointed city manager, wrote a long list of grievances to the agency's director in February 1981. Among those grievances was the superintendent's residence "in an illegal travel trailer within the historic district for two years. The park," he continued, "has recently purchased non-historic property as an administrative site even though the intent is to use it as housing." [75] Sims, however, weathered the storm, and he continued to live at the administrative site until he retired and left Skagway in November 1985.

As noted below, the city election of 1982 featured a proposal to swap the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, which was owned by the city, for the three vacant NPS lots along Broadway. Two of the city council members that year, Rand Snure and John McDermott, hoped to include a portion of the administrative site in the trading package. The reason for the suggested swap was related to the adjacent softball diamond. Both the left field and center field fences at the diamond were 250 feet from home plate. But because of the administrative site, the right field fence was just 205 feet down the line. The superintendent was well aware that the administrative site impinged into the playing area; softballs flew into his yard with some frequency, and occasional home-run balls shattered his living room window. He was unwilling, however, to cooperate with the city by giving up a portion of the administrative site, and the ballot question (which was ultimately defeated) did not include the administrative site in the proposed land trade. [76]

In order to increase the amount of working area available to park staff, the NPS in March 1986 asked the city to donate the 10,000 square foot gymnasium of the old school to use as a woodworking shop and storage facility. (The school, located between 11th and 13th avenues and between State and Main streets, had opened during the 1930s and closed in the spring of 1985.) Because the gymnasium (and the rest of the school) had lain vacant for the past year, and there were no plans in the offing for alternative uses, the city in September agreed to donate the gym to the NPS for a five year period. The agency utilized the facility until 1991, then moved its materials to the administrative site (see below). It made no attempt to renew its pact with the city. [77]

The park's demand for working room continued to increase, and before the close of 1986 the NPS had approached the city council for more space. It requested, and was granted, a five year zoning variance so that it could construct a metal storage shed at the administrative site. Early the following year, the NPS completed its eighteen-month renovation of the Moore Cabin. Maintenance personnel then disassembled the storage building which had been protecting the cabin and moved it to the administrative site. [78]

Another issue pertaining to the administrative site during this period dealt with the Skagway Airport. The NPS site, located on the west side of Main Street, was 150 feet east of Alaska Street, and the airport was west of Alaska Street. Federal Aviation Administration officials, however, declared that the present airport was unsafe because, among other reasons, it had no taxiway. In order to increase airport safety, the FAA suggested several modifications; one proposal called for placing either a parking lot or an airport administration building on the park's administrative site. In order to prepare for that eventuality, the park's Cultural Resource Specialist conducted an archeological clearance for the property. During the summer of 1988, he and two assistants--Heidi Hill and Bill Jurgelski--made several test excavations at the administrative site. [79]

In October 1994, the park announced that the Pagnac's double-wide trailer, now almost twenty years old and in a deteriorated condition, would be replaced. In its stead, the NPS planned to construct a duplex on the property. [80] A total of $425,000 was allotted to the duplex, and in the summer of 1995 the trailer was moved offsite. That September, the locally-owned Jewell Construction Company began construction work. The project was completed in the spring of 1996. NPS officials also recognized the need for extra storage room, so in early 1995 they decided to install four 40-foot "sea vans" (cargo containers) at the park maintenance site. Those units were moved onto the property in April 1995, and are currently located along Second Avenue, on the property's northern edge. [81]

NPS Activities at the Arctic Brotherhood Hall

The Arctic Brotherhood Hall, located on Broadway between Second and Third avenues, is a striking, attractive, gold rush-era building, and it may be the most photographed structure in the state. The building is currently owned by the City of Skagway and has never been owned by the National Park Service. The federal agency, however, has played a significant role in its use and restoration during the past two decades.

The Hall was constructed during the spring of 1899 as Camp Skagway Number 1 of the Arctic Brotherhood. A year later, one of the club members--either J. A. Cleveland or Charley Walker--collected 20,000 driftwood sticks from Skagway Bay and, for reasons unknown, attached them to the front wall. [82] The organization continued to use the building until 1923, when President Warren Harding visited Skagway. As part of that visit, Harding joined the Brotherhood. Harding, it turned out, was the last person to join the organization. The Skagway camp (and the organization as a whole) disbanded shortly thereafter, and the City of Skagway assumed ownership of the building. It has retained that ownership ever since.

For the next half century the hall was used only occasionally and for a diversity of uses. Town meetings were held there; flower shows took place in late summer; and from time to time it was used as a city-sponsored visitor center, staffed by volunteers. By the time the NPS began to show an interest in the Skagway area, tourism levels had risen to the point that the hall was being used most summers as an informal visitor center. The city used the building as an information center as late as the summer of 1978. [83]

Although the 1973 master plan called for the AB Hall to be retained by the city, federal bureaucrats became interested in the building soon after the park was authorized. A federal agency (probably the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service) offered the city a grant to restore the building; in March 1978, however, the city turned it down. [84] Six months later, the NPS approached the city council and asked to use the hall as a visitor center until it had completed its restoration activities on a permanent visitor center. In response, the NPS promised to invest several thousand dollars each year in restoration and maintenance as part of its cooperative agreement with the city. The city council agreed to the Park Service's proposal at its September 21, 1978 meeting, and in May 1979, the agency began using the AB Hall as a temporary visitor center. [85]

As noted above, the NPS did not immediately respond after the city council signed the cooperative agreement. The agency, in fact, dragged its heels for more than sixteen months, and a mutually-agreeable pact was not finalized until February 22, 1980. Perhaps as a result of those delays, city officials during the early months of 1980 let it be known that the city might renege on its promise to make the AB Hall available to the Park Service. The city's threat caused agency planners to scramble for an alternate visitor center site. That site, it was decided, would be the Mascot Saloon. By the late spring, however, feelings between the city and the NPS had mellowed, and the city had ceased its sabre-rattling. [86]

In December 1981, the NPS became involved in a new issue related to the AB Hall. The agency, by now, had stabilized and repainted most of its properties in the historic district. Perhaps based on those positive accomplishments, and its recognition that it could not afford to maintain the historic buildings it owned, the city contacted the NPS regarding the possible sale of both the Arctic Brotherhood Hall and the City Library. (The latter building had been erected in 1898 as the Board of Trade Gambling Saloon. It had served as the city library from 1928 to 1979, when the library moved to a newly-constructed building at Eighth Avenue and State Street. The old library building had been unused since that time.) The city recognized that selling the buildings to the Park Service would guarantee their preservation; it would also provide the city a sizable financial boost. [87]

Regional Director John Cook, who responded to the city's letter, noted that the agency was interested in obtaining the two historic buildings. He noted, however, that Section 1309 of the recently-passed Alaska Lands Act prevented the NPS from purchasing land from the city. The only acquisition options open were either donation or exchange. He invited the City Council to suggest ideas consistent with existing legal avenues. [88] City officials responded by suggesting that the city trade the AB Hall in exchange for the three vacant NPS lots along Broadway--the lot between the Sweet Tooth and Dedman's Photo, the so-called "Rainier Hotel" lots south of the Pantheon Saloon, and the lot south of Corrington's Curios--plus a portion of the administrative site (as noted above) to be used as an extension to the local softball diamond. [89] NPS officials rejected the idea of giving up any of the administrative site, but were hopeful that the remainder of the trade could be consummated.

The idea of the exchange having been approved by both parties, the question was put to a ballot of Skagway's voters. On October 5, 1982, voters were asked the question, "Shall the City of Skagway trade the Arctic Brotherhood to the National Park Service in exchange for an equal value of vacant real properties and services?" In addition, voters were asked, "Shall the City of Skagway sell these properties that will be conveyed by the National Park Service at not less than appraised value under such terms, conditions, and at such time as the City Council deems appropriate?" Voters rejected the first question, 218 to 199, but they approved the (by now irrelevant) second question, 211 to 180. [90]

Skip Elliott, who backed the measure, was unconvinced that the voters were fully informed about the proposed land trade. In a letter to editor Jeff Brady, he chastised the press for not publicizing the issue, and noted that "very few people, for instance, realized that the proposed AB Hall trade...was suggested by the city, not the NPS." Outgoing mayor Bob Messegee agreed with Elliott, saying he thought that voters did not understand the question, and at the October 8 council meeting convinced the city council to put both of the above measures on the October 19 ballot. In addition, city officials sent out a mailer to each voter explaining the issue. The voters, however, apparently understood the issue all along. When the questions appeared on the ballot a second time, the land-trade proposal was rejected 169 to 94. The accompanying proposal also failed, on a 136 to 115 vote. [91]

Despite the vote results, the city had no intention of abandoning the AB Hall. Since the NPS had begun using the AB Hall, city officials had had little luck in establishing a city-run visitor center in another location. [92] During the summer of 1982, therefore, local Convention and Visitors Bureau staff began working at the facility in conjunction with the seasonal NPS interpreters. Two years later, city personnel improved the hall's restroom facilities, and the building served as a municipal visitor center, staffed by high school representatives of the state-sponsored HOST (Helping Our State's Students) program. HOST personnel continued to staff the hall, on an exclusive basis, during the summer of 1985. The following year, however, tour operator Steve Hites rented the hall for his Skagway Streetcar Company. CVB personnel shared the facility with Hites's operation that year; meanwhile, city officials showed occasional indications of interest in leasing the NPS-restored Martin Itjen house, west of the depot complex (see Chapter 6). [93]

In September 1986, Hites expressed his intention to lease the hall for a second summer. His request provoked a wide variety of public comment regarding the hall's optimal use. Residents were aware that the council had usually made its leasing decisions in late spring or early summer, and many felt that a long term plan was necessary. Some, such as Jeff Brady of the Skagway News, wanted to sell it to the National Park Service. Others wanted it to become a museum or cultural center, or an annex to the existing City Hall museum. Still others wanted the city to continue leasing it. No plan emerged from those discussions, and the city offered a new lease to the Skagway Streetcar Company. [94]

In 1987, the city council decided to take steps to protect the building. That June, it drew up a resolution that would save the structure and "restore it to its former glory." It contacted the NPS for advice, and in November, cultural resources chief Leslie Starr Hart announced that the following spring, the agency would contract with an architectural and engineering firm to assess the hall's structural needs. [95] Soon afterward, Regional Historian Robert Spude agreed to do a historic building survey for the hall. That survey, had it been completed, would have determined the building's immediate needs and provided a restoration plan that the city could take to potential funding sources. Spude, however, left his Alaskan post soon afterward. Despite that setback the NPS pledged, as part of the servicewide Building Condition Assessment Program, to provide an AB Hall survey. [96] Russ Sackett performed the survey in 1988. On the basis of that survey, the City of Skagway, in late 1989, contracted with local personnel to jack up the hall and give it a new foundation. That same year, the driftwood facade was treated "so it would last another 90 years." [97]

Throughout this period, Steve Hites continued to lease the AB Hall from the city on a year-to-year basis; each year, as they had since 1982, the hall also served as the municipal visitor center. From time to time, residents continued, as they had before, to suggest that the building become a visitor center or a museum, and not a privately-operated tour company facility. (Some suggested that it become an annex to the existing museum; others suggested that it become the sole site for the city museum. One individual suggested that the hall become an independently-operated wildlife museum.) [98] At one point, in the spring of 1990, the city council went so far as to rescind Hites' lease. Soon afterward, however, he was granted the lease once again. In August 1992, as he neared the end of his seventh year of operation in the AB Hall, Hites received a three-year lease. That lease remained valid through October 1995. Shortly after the lease expired, the hall became the temporary site of the Trail of '98 Museum while the McCabe Building was undergoing restoration activities. In May 1996 the relocated museum opened, as scheduled, in the AB Hall. Hites, meanwhile, constructed a new theater complex on 2nd Avenue east of Broadway. In May 1996 it, too, was completed and opened its doors to visitors. [99]

Trail of '98 Museum Assistance

The city's Trail of '98 Museum was established in the spring of 1961. It was located on the second floor of City Hall (McCabe College); its first curator was Paul Sincic, a White Pass railroad worker, who continued his curatorship until he left town in 1966. [100] The museum drew thousands of visitors each summer, and by the early 1970s an excellent, diversified museum collection had been assembled.

NPS officials recognized that the authorization of a park unit in Skagway would impact the museum. More visitors would drop by; the park's interpreters would recommend the site; historians and other professionals, both NPS employees and outside researchers, would use the city's historical photograph collection and textual records.

Officials from the NPS and the state who studied the museum recognized that much needed to be done. Qualified personnel were needed to organize, catalog, and microfilm the city's archives. [101]

The city had no funds to address those concerns. Therefore, the NPS officials who drew up the first NPS-city cooperative agreement included museum funds as a prominent part of the total allotment. [102] Of the $45,000 promised by the NPS, $10,200 was to be directed to museum and archival management. Skagway's city council members first learned about the specifics of the cooperative agreement when the NPS presented the plan to them in September 1978. As noted above, however, the agreement was not finalized until February 1980.

Shortly after the accord was signed, Interpretive Specialist David Cohen offered to work with the city's museum board on various museum assistance projects. With funds in hand, Cohen visited the state archives and the Western Washington University archives management program, and with the city's blessing set about hiring someone to inventory the city's historical records. Glenda Choate, an archivist from Bellingham, Washington, was hired as an intern and arrived in Skagway in mid-June. She spent the summer working in the museum and arranging for the shipment of materials to Juneau for microfilming. By October, the work was complete and an index had been compiled of the various record groups comprising the city's archives. [103]

Choate remained in town, working as the city librarian when her archival chores were completed. [104] In the meantime, new events were taking place at the museum. Judge Thomas Stewart, the presiding judge of Alaska's First Judicial District, was so taken by the authentic historical atmosphere in the old courtroom that he had revived its use as a court, after a 27-year lapse, during the fall of 1978. A year later, he petitioned the city council to use the museum as a court on an ongoing basis. His request, if followed completely, would have resulted in the second floor being partially cleared and a number of museum pieces being moved downstairs. Council members, trying to be compromising, chose to meet the judge halfway. They agreed to let the judge hold court upstairs, but only during the wintertime (between October 1 and May 15) and only if a museum board member was present. Large museum pieces would not be moved downstairs; the city council chambers, they reasoned, were already too crowded. Under that plan, the court moved upstairs on an occasional basis. It has retained that role into the 1990s. [105]

In 1981, the museum was further improved, thanks to $15,000 in state grant money and $5,000 in local funds. A year later, Choate was called back to complete an addendum to the organizing and cataloguing she had accomplished in 1980. The city, during the interim, had located several additional caches of historical documentation. In order to give the new records the same level of documentation accorded the original collection, four agencies--the City of Skagway, National Park Service, Alaska State Museum, and Alaska State Archives--pooled their resources. Choate began her work in March 1982 and completed it in July. [106]

As noted in the above section, local citizens in 1986 began to consider moving part or all of the city museum to the AB Hall. Discussion continued, without definite results, for several years. In May 1994, the city council made tentative plans to move the city offices from the McCabe Building to the old school; Superintendent Alderson, in response, offered NPS assistance in renovating the existing city hall so that the Trail of '98 Museum would occupy both floors. The plan, which called for the improvement of both the school and the McCabe Building, was approved by city officials and presented to the voters as two bond propositions. On October 4, Skagway's voters defeated both measures. Proposition 1, which called for improvements to the old school, failed 203 to 161, while Proposition 2, which would have improved the McCabe Building, was rejected by a 217 to 143 margin. [107] Despite the failure of that vote, the museum was moved--on a temporary basis--to the Arctic Brotherhood Hall (see section above), where it will remain until restoration work in the McCabe building is completed.

Management of Vacant Lots Along Broadway

When NPS officials began planning Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, they recognized that some of the gold rush-era buildings would need to be moved to new locations in order to save them. To that end, the 1973 master plan called for the purchase of several vacant lots, and the movement of historic buildings onto two of them. One moved building was to be located just south of Verbauwhede's Confectionery; the other would be just south of Corrington's Curios. [108]

By the time NPS lands officials began purchasing Skagway properties, the parcel south of Verbauwhede's had been filled by an extension to Richter's Curios. The agency, therefore, purchased the vacant lot south of Corrington's, called the Kalem-Kaufman lot. In addition, it bought a lot across Broadway from the depot complex. Three other lots were unintentionally acquired as part of purchases that included historic buildings. These lots were 1) the so-called Kirmse tent site, between the Sweet Tooth Saloon and Dedman's Photo Shop, 2) the Rainier Hotel lot, between Dedman's Photo and the Pantheon Saloon, and 3) several lots, previously owned by the Kirmse family, located between the Moore Cabin and Broadway Street. As planners had envisioned, the agency did purchase three buildings that needed to be moved: the Itjen House, Boss Bakery, and Goldberg Cigar Store. By the close of 1979, however, all of the buildings had been moved onto NPS lots. By the time the acquisition and moving processes had run their course, park officials recognized that the Kirmse tent site, the Rainier Hotel lot and the Kalem-Kaufman tract would likely remain vacant. The lots between the Moore Cabin and Broadway would probably also remain unimproved for the foreseeable future.

In December 1980, as noted in Chapter 6, NPS officials were in the midst of preparing the so-called Skagway Historic District plan. Bill Brown, one of the principal architects of the plan, recognized that residents wanted to know the agency's intentions regarding the various vacant lots it owned. Were further building moves contemplated? If so, when would action take place? And if not, would local residents be able to either lease or purchase the vacant lots? [109]

At a public meeting, held in Skagway on April 9, 1981, NPS officials went to great lengths to explain why the lots had been purchased in the first place, and what the agency planned to do with them. The various lots, they explained, were acquired either for the relocation of buildings or for parking lots. Neither of those uses was currently valid. [110] As a result, they mentioned that the agency would consider selling the Kirmse tent site, the Rainier Hotel lot and the Kalem-Kaufman tract to the city, so long as the city promised to retain historical land uses on them. (Later that month, the agency declared the lots to be surplus, and formally recommended their disposal.) Based on that position, two Skagway business people that evening indicated their interest in acquiring a parcel should it become available. The vacant lots west of the Moore cabin, however, would not be sold; instead, they would be retained for structures restoration, a memorial to the White Pass Trail, or other park interpretive uses. [111]

Community pressure, up to this point, clearly favored the park's divestment of its surplus properties. In June 1981, however, city manager Skip Elliott backed off from his previously hostile attitude. In a letter to John Cook, he said,

most people feel that the Kirmse and Rainier Hotel lots should remain as tourist relaxation areas. Likewise, the Moore lots should be retained for historical interpretation. However, it is felt that the Kaufman lot should be made available for transient vendors and that such "rag-tag" use would not be incompatible with the nature of the early gold-rush era. [112]

As noted in the section above (pertaining to the AB Hall), the idea of a city-NPS land swap surfaced in late 1981, and in October 1982, the city ballot asked voters to validate the proposed swap of the Kirmse tent site, the Rainier Hotel lot, and the Kalem-Kaufman tract in exchange for the AB Hall. Voters decided the issue on October 5, then again on October 19. In both cases, they rejected the proposed land trade.

For the next five years, the park had no plans for the lots and made no attempt to dispose of them. In 1987, however, Superintendent Alderson began to eye them. As noted in Chapter 6, he showed an early interest in building a park maintenance facility, and he felt that one of the easiest ways to obtain the necessary land (near Alaska Street and Second Avenue) would be to trade it for the three surplus lots along Broadway. [113] Cultural resources personnel, however, warned Alderson that he would not be able to dispose of the lots without first excavating them. The thought of having to fund such an extensive, costly undertaking caused Alderson to abandon the land trade idea. In order to prepare for a possible future disposal action, however, he ordered that an archeological excavation be conducted at the Kalem-Kaufman tract during the summer of 1988. [114]

Since 1988, the agency has made no further attempts to dispose of its Broadway lots. It has, however, tried to improve their appearance. In 1993, the NPS hired Charles Bettisworth and Company of Fairbanks to develop a conceptual master plan for landscaping in the town's historic district; Bettisworth, in turn, hired Jones and Jones, a Seattle architectural firm, to assist in the project. (Although the NPS sponsored the project, the city participated as well. As a result of that plan, the city erected improvements in Mollie Walsh Park and proposed a park at Broadway and First Avenue.) [115]

Tom Atkins and Kurt Warber were Jones and Jones' representatives on the project. As part of that plan, Atkins and Warber envisioned three scenarios for the Broadway lots. The lots could be infilled with moved or reconstructed buildings, they could be left undeveloped, or they could be improved with outdoor interpretive exhibits. Public meetings held that November revealed that residents preferred that the park either build structures on the lots and lease them back to the retail sector, or leave them undeveloped. [116]

The report recommended that new uses be adopted for each of the vacant lots. At the Kirmse Tent Site, it proposed an expanded deck area, covered public telephones adjacent to the Sweet Tooth's north wall, and a grassy area to the rear. At the Kalem-Kaufman Tract, the plan envisioned a historic Skagway garden design, with alternative planting beds and lawn. Regarding the so-called Pantheon (Rainier Hotel) Site, local residents generally approved of an extended boardwalk and picnic area, but another alternative for the lot, a false-front entryway, was described as "looking out of place, phony and false." After considering public comment, the report's authors noted that because of the Park Service's impending restoration of the Pantheon saloon building, more information was needed prior to developing recommendations for the adjacent lot. [117] The report was completed in June 1994, but the NPS has not yet acted on the report's recommendations.

The Revived Historic District Commission

As noted in Chapter 4, the city's Historic District Commission (HDC) was first created in October 1972. NPS officials had recommended that the Skagway City Council establish a historic district along Broadway, and the ordinance that passed that month called for the establishment of a historic district advisory board. [118] The council, however, did not appoint the charter members of the Skagway Historic District Commission until the fall of 1973, and the commission did not begin meeting until October 1974. The body was relatively inactive, and in 1976-77, the council eliminated it. Its functions were taken over by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

In April 1977, the Skagway City Council established a series of regulations for the historic district. The new rules were intended to safeguard the heritage of the city, stabilize and improve property values, foster civic beauty, strengthen the local economy, and promote the use the district for the education, pleasure and welfare of the city's citizens and visitors. The regulations stated that "no structure shall be constructed, altered, repaired, moved or demolished" in the district unless it complied with the new requirements. [119]

The regulations, however, did little good. Superintendent Richard Hoffman, in May 1979, made this tart assessment of them:

The City is a long way from having a viable Planning and Zoning Commission (I know, I'm on it). Thus, the present ordinances, bad as they are, are beyond the functional scope of the Planning and Zoning Commission to enforce. In addition, the City Council over-rides the P&Z and keeps it impotent. And there is no way around that without Citizen support, and it just ain't there. [120]

As if to underscore Hoffman's comments, the city council in February 1980 dissolved the Planning and Zoning Commission, citing a lack of commitment by commission members. [121]

Just a few weeks after the city council's action, the NPS organized two weeks of meetings in Skagway to plan the future of the park. The agency's Skagway Historic District buildings comprised a major focus of the various discussions. Hugh Miller, of the agency's Washington office, declared that a city historic preservation commission or landmarks commission was necessary to relieve jurisdictional and ownership problems and to enhance cooperative planning. Wil Logan, a fellow NPS attendee, agreed with Miller; he noted that historic preservation would be "the community's economic salvation" and that a commission was necessary in order to manage city preservation activities. Logan, in addition, urged the creation of a series of preservation guidelines and design standards for the non-NPS buildings in the historic district. [122]

During the year which followed, Historical Architect Dave Snow began work in Skagway, and before long he had joined Logan in advocating the creation of a set of architectural guidelines for historic district buildings. [123] But nothing was done about the idea until April 9, 1981, when it was resurrected at a public meeting which NPS officials held at the Skagway City Hall. Staff members who attended the meeting recognized that if they wished to retain historical land uses on the vacant lots they were considering for disposal, they would need to prepare technical guidelines to assist the city and prospective lot purchasers. Area Office historian Bill Brown, in response, proposed that Regional Historical Architect David Snow and Randall Copeland of the Denver Service Center collaborate in the preparing of a Compatible New Construction Guide. Snow and Copeland would develop their own data, and add to it the building history information that had been generated by historian Robert Spude. [124] Copeland began work on the project soon afterward, and by year's end he had produced a set of design guidelines for the Skagway Historic District. [125]

Another writing project that provided historical and architectural information to city residents was Robert Spude's Skagway, District of Alaska, 1884-1912. This volume, begun during the late 1970s, was a compilation of data on the buildings and sites in the downtown historic district; in addition, it described those resources and their predominant architectural patterns as a reflection of the period in which they were constructed. The study was intended to serve as a guide to preservation research and planning, both in Skagway and other Alaskan communities, and to satisfy community concerns about Skagway area resources. The study was published by the NPS and by the University of Alaska's Cooperative Park Studies Unit and distributed in January 1984. [126]

By the time the design guidelines had been completed, the long-dormant Skagway Historic District Commission had come back to life. On August 20, 1981, the city council created a five-member commission, of which one member would be the NPS's historical architect. [127] The commission met regularly after that point, and by the summer of 1982, the Skagway News editorialized its accomplishments, noting that:

Since its inception last year, the Historic District Commission has played a significant role in the molding of the district into a valuable tourist attraction. Skagway's buildings have always looked "old" but they are just now beginning to display a lot more character. Local businesses are following the National Park Service's good example by painting their buildings, putting them on more stable foundations, and sprucing up their property. The HDC has served as the proper bridge between the community and the national park. Their work thus far deserves applause and praise from local residents. [128]

The new commission's political will was tested in late July, when Westours officials presented the commission with its plans for a 64-room addition to the Klondike Hotel. This addition was to have fronted on both Broadway and Third Avenue. Commission members, however, variously described the new false-fronted, horizontal-sided design as "insensitive" and "ugly," and the proposed hotel as "a behemoth" and "a monster." Westours representatives tried to be responsive to the commission's impressions, and NPS architect Dave Snow spent two days with the designers in an attempt to improve the addition's exterior appearance. After that collaboration, Westours presented the revised designs to the commission, which quickly approved them. [129]

The Historic District Commission weathered that storm, and several others that have erupted since that time, and despite occasional calls for its elimination, it remains active. Its composition changed in 1985, when the city council increased its membership from five to six, and business owners replaced council members on the commission. But both before and after that realignment, a local park employee has always been a commission member. Dave Snow served until his departure until 1984; he was replaced by maintenance chief John Warder and, more recently, by cultural resource specialist Karl Gurcke. [130]

The commission has tended to be most visible when it has decided the fate of proposed building plans. In 1984, it denied several proposed modifications that Steve Jaklitsch had tried to make on his Fifth Avenue Bunkhouse; soon afterward, the city council overturned most of the commission's recommendations. Nine years later, the commission turned down a request for a proposed log cabin on the Eagles Hall property, but they later approved the moving of an old garage to the property so long as the petitioners erected a false front on it facing Broadway. [131] Then, in July 1993, the Mason Garage, which was on the verge of collapsing, was demolished without HDC approval. Robert Spude, in Skagway, District of Alaska, had noted that the garage had been a gold rush-era stable, which may have been moved onto the property. The commission, at its July 19 meeting, therefore protested the demolition. It was later revealed, however, that the structure had actually been built as a garage in 1936. Many buildings have been constructed or modified in the historic district in recent years with little or no difficulty from the HDC. Examples include renovations at the Skagway Hardware Company and Eagles Hall, and new construction of the Skagway Air Service and Klondike Picture Emporium buildings. [132]

The commission has also drawn up new regulations from time to time. In July 1986, it formulated guidelines for itinerant and transient merchants. In September 1987, the city council--bypassing the HDC--proposed a revised sign ordinance; later, however, the council voted it down and decided to write a new, more simplified ordinance. [133] During the early 1990s the city, with the support of the HDC, instituted a matching grant program to provide sprinkler systems in historic district buildings. [134]

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the commission made several adjustments to the boundaries of the historic district. As noted in Chapter 6, the original (1972) boundaries of the district were soon recognized as being irrelevant, primarily because historical research identified that important historical buildings were located outside of the designated boundaries. To correct that oversight, historian Bob Spude had attempted, in 1979, to expand the boundaries. That attempt was unsuccessful, but several years later, the HDC moved the boundary west to include the Moore Building at Fifth and State. The body also moved the boundary east in a non-historical area on the north side of Sixth Avenue west of Broadway. The current boundaries, though more inclusive than they were in 1972, still do not include several of Skagway's most important gold rush-era commercial buildings. [135]

In the spring of 1993, the commission began to draw up revisions to the guidelines that Randall Copeland of the NPS had compiled in 1981. Glenda Choate, the consultant chosen to write the report, met with Casey McBride, Karl Gurcke, and other commission members throughout the year. Hearings on the guidelines were held in August 1993 and January 1994, and final design guidelines were published that spring. [136]

In 1989, the NPS became involved in a project that resulted in research intended to assist property owners throughout the historic district. The Alaska Regional Office, as part of a program involving units throughout the NPS system, let a contract for an Archeological Overview and Assessment of the park's Skagway Unit. It was awarded to Drs. William Hampton Adams and David R. Brauner. The pair, who hailed from Corvallis, Oregon, visited both the park and the regional office in search of applicable data. They turned in a draft in September 1990. Paul Gleeson of the NPS responded that the report, though thorough, required more research before it could be finalized. Adams and Brauner, however, had expended the project's funds and ceased work on it. Their findings were published privately in 1991. Two years later, NPS officials in Anchorage reactivated the idea of publishing the volume. The writers have expressed a similar interest, but work on the project is presently on hold. [137]

City and Park Visitation

Before the park was authorized in 1976, both NPS and city officials were well aware that the existence of the park, plus the impending completion of the Klondike Highway from Skagway to Carcross, would significantly increase Skagway tourism. It was difficult, however, to accurately assess visitor numbers. The Alaska Marine Highway and the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad could offer Skagway arrival and departure figures, and cruise ship companies could provide total passenger counts. (Later, beginning in 1978, the customs and immigration authorities could offer figures on the number of highway passengers who crossed the border heading southbound.) Based on those figures, however, there was no way to accurately judge the number of people who remained in town. Many cruise ship passengers, for instance, did not disembark, and many of those who arrived by the state ferry merely drove through town on State Street and headed for the Canadian border. Equally important, the statistics did not (and could not) separate tourists from residents.

NPS officials had an even more difficult time assessing visitor numbers. The park's Skagway unit, for example, was composed of several buildings in the historic district, and there was no accurate way to estimate who, among Skagway's visitors, was interacting with, or benefiting from, park facilities. As noted in chapters 5 and 6, the park opened its first visitor center (in the old depot building) in 1977. NPS officials, however, made no attempt to tally park visitors for the next several years, except along the Chilkoot Trail.

Skagway visitation increased significantly during the 1970s, and by the end of the decade, city officials began to recognize the need for a separate organization devoted to visitor service management. In October 1980, the city council proposed the creation of the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau. A month later, the idea was approved, and the bureau had its first regular meeting on March 24, 1981. [138] It was originally anticipated that the staff person heading the bureau would serve as the museum curator as well as the tourism director. In April 1981, however, the CVB decided to separate the two positions, and in June, Bob Wheeler was hired as the city's first CVB director. [139] In early 1982, Wheeler was succeeded by Bob Ward, who remained as CVB head for five years. The Convention and Visitors Bureau remains active in the community. Its primary purpose is to attract tourists to town. Although most local event planning is now orchestrated by the chamber of commerce, the Skagway Centennial Committee, and by volunteers, the CVB organizes such off-season events as Windfest (during early spring) and Yuletide (just before Christmas). [140]

In 1982, the NPS finally began to tabulate visitor figures. Using a hand counter in the Arctic Brotherhood hall, seasonal interpreters tabulated total recreational visits; to account for off-season visitation, the agency relied on signatures entered by visitors at the park headquarters. Recreational visitation was 49,686; total visitation was 50,642. (See Appendix A.) The park's interpretive specialist that year also began to collect and report figures for guided walks, evening programs, roving assignments, and park films. These forms of recording have continued to the present day. [141]

Visitation to both Skagway and the park's visitor center increased annually thereafter, and in 1988, more than 105,500 recreational visitors came to the park. The decreased number of cruise ships the following year, due in part to the bankruptcy of Exploration Cruise Lines and the subsequent elimination of its ship dockings, reduced visitation 18 percent. Thereafter, visitation resumed its annual climb, and in 1991 more than 110,500 people were recorded. [142] The city's CVB, however, reported more than 282,000 visitors that year.

Superintendent Alderson, upon comparing the two figures, recognized that the park's visitation figures needed to be revised upward. He wrote that

These figures are derived from the actual numbers of people who came into the visitor center or who hiked the Chilkoot Trail. This in no way reflects the actual number of people who make use of the facilities of the park. It would be more realistic to use figures compiled by the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau ... virtually every person who comes to town makes use of the park in some way.

In order to ensure a more realistic visitor count, he invited Ted Grant, of the Statistical Division of the Denver Service Center, to visit the park in August 1991. Grant promised that new statistical criteria would be derived beginning in 1992. [143] As a result of Grant's investigations, visitation rose more than 34 percent from 1991 to 1992. A year later, the visitor count rose even more dramatically; it climbed more than 177 percent, from 148,019 to 402,966.

The early 1990s also featured a Visitor Survey Program. In February 1991, Margaret Littlejohn of the University of Idaho and Tessy Shirakawa of the agency's Alaska Regional Office met with park staff to map out the upcoming survey. They hoped to do the survey that summer, but delays at the Office of Management and Budget prevented work on the project until 1992. Littlejohn and an assistant distributed 491 questionnaires that summer. A remarkably high proportion of the surveys--411, or 84 percent--were returned. By March 1993 the data had been collected. The tabulation showed, among its many conclusions, that the average Skagway visitor spent $105 per day. [144]

Broadway Traffic Questions

As the number of tourists to Skagway grew and the summer congestion along Broadway worsened, an increasing number of complaints were registered that pertained to parked cars. Pressure was felt from those in the tourist sector, therefore, to limit or eliminate parking along Broadway. The NPS, in its master plan, had recommended that parking on the street be prohibited; in its accompanying Final Environmental Statement, moreover, it had recommended the closure of Broadway to all vehicles. [145] The agency, however, had no power to implement those recommendations.

The city first considered Broadway traffic restrictions in the election of October 3, 1978. [146] Voters that day rejected Proposition 4, which would have closed Broadway to traffic between Second and Sixth avenues and between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The vote was 187 to 129. At the instigation of council member Mavis Henricksen, voters were given a questionnaire that explored a number of traffic and parking issues. On the basis of that questionnaire, the Planning and Zoning Commission again raised the issue in early 1979. [147] They did not act on it, but the following September, the city council felt sufficiently concerned about parking to place it as an advisory issue on the October 7 ballot. At issue was whether parking would be allowed on Broadway between Memorial Day and Labor Day and between noon and 6 p.m. Skagway's voters passed Proposition 2, the parking question, on a 157-142 vote. [148]

The parking-limitation proposition having passed, Skagway residents waited for its implementation the following May. Mayor Robert Messegee, however, felt that because the vote was advisory, the margin of victory was insufficient to force the council to pass an accompanying ordinance. In December, he asked for another vote on the issue. The council, when asked to decide, tabled the proposed ordinance. In February 1981 the council proposed another no parking ordinance; that ordinance, however, was struck down after its first reading. Parking remained unrestricted. [149]

In the spring of 1982, the issue surfaced anew. Council members John McDermott and Rand Snure introduced a no parking ordinance at a late March council meeting. Their motion, however, "prompted an outrage from some local business owners," and McDermott later announced he would vote against his own motion. The issue did not reemerge that year. [150]

The issue appeared yet again in the spring of 1983. Local resident Dorothy Richards spearheaded a petition drive that collected 109 signatures requesting a public vote on the no parking issue. The council responded to the petition by placing Advisory Vote No. 1 on the May 10 ballot, "Shall the City of Skagway create a no parking zone on Broadway between 1st Avenue and 6th Avenue, except for loading areas established by the City Council, for the period from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day?" Skagway's voters were tied on the question, 152 votes for, 152 votes against. Mayor Rand Snure broke the tie at a subsequent council meeting by deciding to experiment with the idea. Due to the split vote, however, no parking on Broadway was enforced during August 1983 only. [151]

The no parking experiment took place as expected, giving local voters the opportunity to judge its benefits and drawbacks. Visitors, it was reported, appreciated the benefits of the parking ban. [152] Soon after the August experiment had ended, the question reappeared on the ballot; this time, the vote would be binding, not advisory. On October 4, the voters evidently felt that the inconvenience of not being able to park near a business they wished to patronize outweighed the benefits of a parking ban; they rejected the ban, 231 to 168. [153]

Hot on the heels of the parking controversy was a closely related issue. Since the gold rush era, the streets of Skagway had been surfaced with gravel or dirt. During the summer of 1964, however, State Street had been paved. Broadway had been bypassed in order to retain an authentic historical atmosphere, and when the NPS and the city forged their initial cooperative agreement, the federal agency was willing to pay $5,000 annually for such maintenance activities as grading, drainage, and dust control. That aspect of the cooperative agreement remained in force until 1983, when city officials contracted with Associated Sand and Gravel to pave Broadway from First through Seventh avenues. The project was awarded in September. [154]

Soon afterward, hotel owner Dave Whitehead protested the project, saying that the paving would ruin Skagway's tourist industry and hurt his business. He hired an attorney, Mark Choate of Fairbanks, who filed a temporary restraining order on October 11, one day after construction work began. On October 20, however, Anchorage Judge James Von der Heydt denied Choate's motion, noting that Whitehead had not been able to "clearly establish irreparable harm" from the project. [155]

With legal barriers out of the way, construction proceeded, and by the end of October, crews had lowered the street surface several feet in anticipation of the laying of storm drains. Work continued intermittently that winter, and on May 18, the first asphalt was laid. In order to be compatible with the historic district, the contractors used a relatively rough-textured asphalt called porous friction coat. The job was completed in early June. [156]

The Broadway paving job was only one of several street improvement projects that took place during the mid-1980s. During the summer of 1983, Main Street was leveled and paved; the same year, the Klondike Highway was paved from the Skagway River bridge to Liarsville. Spring Street was paved as part of the Broadway project in 1983-84, and in 1986, Alaska Street south of Tenth Avenue was paved. Each project called for the paving of the adjacent side avenues, and by the fall of 1986, many of Skagway's streets had been paved except for the northern end of Alaska and Broadway streets. [157]

During the summer of 1986, the issue of parking on Broadway resurfaced when several businesses requested loading zones in front of their shops. City council members, in response, directed the city manager to draw up a no parking ordinance for the next council meeting. That ordinance would have banned parking on Broadway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from June 1 through September 15. After considering the matter, however, the city council unanimously opposed the measure. Three years later, in September 1989, the council again considered traffic restrictions; they discussed the merits of turning Broadway into a one-way street. That idea never got beyond the discussion stage, but by the end of 1990 the city council had passed an ordinance calling for one-hour parking and size restrictions along Broadway. Five years later, additional council action resulted in the placement of several new loading zones along Broadway. [158]

Updating the National Historic Landmark Nomination

As noted in Chapter 3, all of the Skagway Valley--from Skagway Bay to the top of White Pass, and from mountain crest to mountain crest--became nominated as a National Historic Landmark as a result of Charles Snell's work with the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. Snell had made a brief visit to Skagway in July 1961; a year later, on June 13, 1962, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall declared the Skagway Historic District and White Pass to be eligible for National Historic Landmark designation.

Four years later, on October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Historic Preservation Act. The NHPA provided for expanding the National Register of Historic Places and contained measures to protect and assist National Register properties, including National Historic Landmarks. As a result, NHLs would now have to have specific, historically justifiable boundaries, and contributing and noncontributing features within their boundaries would have to be specified.

Years elapsed before work was begun to update the Skagway and White Pass NHL documentation to meet these requirements. In 1974, the head of the newly-established Skagway Historic District Commission noted the problem and, in a letter to Regional Director John Rutter, recommended that the NPS "complete the necessary surveys of the area required to establish a boundary for [the area] and to locate and identify the historic and archeological properties contained therein." Further pressure from Skagway residents caused A. R. Mortenson, the director of the Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, to respond that his organization had created a special task force to delineate boundaries for the Skagway-White Pass area and for the other early landmarks. He promised that the project would be completed in the "reasonably near future." [159] That study, however, was not completed, and in April 1977 a Washington office official admitted that no National Register forms had been submitted, and no boundary had been drawn for the Skagway-White Pass nomination. Gary Higgins, based in Skagway, was promised that the work would be completed later that year. Again, however, it remained uncompleted. [160]

With the exception of the draft nomination that Gordon Chappell provided on the White Pass depot complex in 1980 (see Chapter 6), National Register work at the park lapsed until the mid-1980s. In August 1983, the NPS hired a seasonal architect, David Broderson, to photograph Skagway buildings--both historical and contemporary--that were located outside of the historic district. [161] Broderson's efforts were followed by those of David Snow, who provided brief architectural descriptions of each Skagway building. Then, in the summer of 1986, Robert Spude assigned Frank Norris and Terrence Cole to update the old Skagway-White Pass nomination form. Norris wrote the descriptive text using Broderson and Snow's data, augmented by data collected from interviews with various longtime Skagway residents, while Cole completed a significance statement. Norris completed work on the nomination in November 1986; he then forwarded it to the regional office. That form moved through the nomination process for the next several years. Then, in 1992, Washington-based NPS officials queried city officials about the nomination. Councilman Jay Frey, in response, requested that Skagway Bay be eliminated from the nomination, a suggestion that was acceptable to NPS representatives. [162] The revised nomination, completed in rough draft form in 1986, has not yet--almost a decade later--been finalized.

A related project that was approved more expeditiously was a National Register documentation for the park as a whole. The park, when authorized in June 1976, had been immediately listed on the National Register because this action was the norm for all historically-based park units. In order to provide the documentation to back up the listing, NPS historian Robert Spude contracted in September 1986 with Glenda Choate of Skagway-based Alaska Archives and Records Management; Choate, in turn, assigned the writing task to Frank Norris, who began work on the project that November. Norris modified information that had been previously gathered for the Skagway-White Pass NHL and the Dyea-Chilkoot Trail NHL (for the latter, see Chapter 8); inasmuch as the entire park was included in the boundaries of the two NHLs, no additional research was necessary. The form was completed on July 9, 1987 and forwarded to Washington. After agency review, it was amended by Bonnie Houston and resubmitted in June 1990, and it was accepted by the Keeper of the National Register on February 26, 1991. [163]

Proposals for Acquiring the Rapuzzi Collection

George Rapuzzi, who was born in Skagway in 1899, worked as a master mechanic for the White Pass and Yukon Route. A longtime friend of Martin Itjen, the early Skagway tourism promoter, Rapuzzi began working in the tourism business, on a part-time basis, at an early age. In addition, he began to collect gold rush-era artifacts during his teenage years. During the 1940s, Itjen and his wife died, leaving Rapuzzi with the Soapy Smith Parlor, the "Skagway Street-Car," and a large volume of historical memorabilia.

In 1963, as noted in Chapter 3, Rapuzzi had the old saloon moved from the south side of Sixth Avenue to its present location on the south side of Second Avenue. Rapuzzi then enlarged the building, and three years later he opened the Soapy Smith Museum to tourists. Rapuzzi continued to operate the museum until the mid-1970s. [164]

In 1978 Rapuzzi, by now in his late seventies, began to plan for the disposition of his possessions. He approached Gary Higgins of the NPS for advice on the matter. Rapuzzi knew that out-of-town collectors were interested in acquiring his saloon, his "street car," and many other possessions, but he resisted those efforts. Perhaps in response to the regrets he and others felt about the Pullen collection, he insisted to Higgins that a solution be found that would allow his belongings to remain in Skagway.

Higgins suggested that Rapuzzi consider the establishment of a legal foundation or non-profit corporation. Higgins told him that the NPS could offer technical assistance in the creation of such an organization. The NPS, he noted, had no interest in acquiring such a collection; its primary interest, he assured Rapuzzi, was the long-term conservation of the many objects he had collected over the years. (Higgins may or may not have known it at the time, but Rapuzzi was not about to sell anything to the NPS; an agency official had previously borrowed an object of his, and the fact that he had not returned it had made him hostile toward the Service.) [165]

No action was taken on Higgins's proposal. Then, three years later, the issue surfaced again at a public meeting in Skagway. The NPS, at that time, again mentioned that it had offered cooperative assistance in preserving the Soapy Smith Parlor and the Rapuzzi collection of memorabilia. In addition, Regional Director John Cook "left open the possibility of acquisition of the (Soapy Smith) building, a very significant historic structure." [166]

That year, Holland-America Westours showed an interest in Rapuzzi's collection and offered to construct the George and Edna Rapuzzi Museum. The structure was to have been a large building with metal supports and wood siding, large enough to contain the old saloon, the "street car," a cabin, and "the entire collection of artifacts." A site for the museum was selected along Second Avenue between State and Main streets. But Westours and Ed Meyer, the landowner, disagreed on the land's value, and Westours, at the last minute, may have reneged on its promise to keep the collection in Skagway. For either or both of those reasons, negotiations bogged down. [167]

George Rapuzzi died in Juneau on November 15, 1986, leaving the estate to his wife Edna. [168] Because Ms. Rapuzzi was in declining health, family member Phyllis Brown moved to Skagway soon afterward to act on behalf of Ms. Rapuzzi and to serve as caretaker for the collection. Brown expressed an interest in negotiating with the National Park Service, and in April 1988 the agency, showing a similar interest in purchasing the Rapuzzi collection, apparently offered more than $390,000 for the 100,000-odd objects comprised within it. Three months later, agency officials were again reported to be negotiating with Brown, this time for the acquisition of Soapy Smith's Parlor, Meyer's Meat Market, and the old Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) building as well as the memorabilia collection. (The two latter buildings were located adjacent to one another at the corner of Fifth Avenue and State Street.) [169]

The two parties were nearing an agreement on a purchase price when suddenly, on July 31, 1988, Edna Rapuzzi died. [170] Her passing made the consummation of an agreement far more complicated and expensive, and since that time, the agency's ability to purchase the collection has been constrained. In July and August 1990, the agency made another attempt to purchase the saloon, the meat market, and the YMCA. That attempt failed. A year later, the agency's acting regional director told Phyllis Brown that he wished:

to express our continued interest in the Rapuzzi property and the gold rush artifact collection that you now own... We're not in a position to commit funding except for the maintenance building. We will, however, be pursuing funding sources that would allow us to purchase the properties known as Jeff Smith's Parlor and the Fifth Avenue Warehouse. We are also interested in the portions of the Rapuzzi gold rush collection that are of significance to the themes of Klondike Gold Rush park.... The collection that you now own is one of the most remarkable that I have ever seen. [171]

When Janet McCabe became the park's acting superintendent in the summer of 1993, she made a renewed effort to purchase Soapy Smith's Parlor. Phyllis Brown was willing to sell the building (but without the land), as well as the meat market and the YMCA. McCabe asked Karl Gurcke to write a justification for such a purchase. In late September, Gurcke completed the report, which included a historical background certifying the building's authenticity. Momentum toward purchasing the building, however, ceased when Clay Alderson resumed the superintendency. Alderson rejected Brown's offer because it required that the building be moved, and considering its "very poor condition ... moving it could present structural problems that could render the existing structure unusable." [172]

In early 1994, Phyllis Brown contacted the NPS with another proposal. She offered the agency Soapy Smith's Parlor; the items inside, however, were not for sale, and the agency would be required to move the structure away from its existing site. NPS officials were not averse to the proposal, but they were sufficiently skeptical about the building's structural condition and its historical integrity that they asked for time to write a historic structure report on the building. Brown, however, wanted to conclude the deal and have the building moved by September 1, and the NPS was unable to respond to that time schedule. The deal fell through. [173] Since then, the NPS has remained interested in purchasing either Rapuzzi's historic buildings or his gold rush artifact collection, but no serious proposals have recently surfaced.

Gold Rush Centennial Activities

A recurrent theme in Skagway in recent years, important to both NPS officials and other Skagway residents, has been the organization of a program that would commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush. Residents of Skagway and other northern cities have long been aware that the gold rush centennial would bring dramatically increased publicity--and higher tourism levels--to Alaska and the Yukon. Only by organizing, however, would northern residents be able to take advantage of the opportunities that the centennial period would likely bring.

Skagway residents began to plan for the centennial in 1983. That January, the city council passed a resolution that proclaimed the 13-year period from 1987 (a hundred years after Captain Moore founded his homestead) through 2000 (the anniversary of the completion of the WP&YR railroad) as centennial years. Four years later, Skagway citizens formed a centennial committee as part of the preparations for the Moore Cabin dedication that July. [174]

By year's end, the NPS was also involved. In December, Superintendent Alderson announced that the NPS and Parks Canada would participate in a joint marketing plan to mark the gold rush's 100th anniversary. He hoped, at the time, that NPS Director William Penn Mott would be able to visit Skagway in 1988 in order to plan events for the 1996-1998 period. [175] Mott visited the park as scheduled, but Alderson's planning effort did not come to fruition. Then, in November 1989, Alderson and other Alaska park superintendents discussed the centennial. They noted that the Yukon Anniversaries Commission was already active and that several Alaska communities had already appointed gold rush centennial committees. They urged the NPS to begin to formulating plans as well. [176]

In order to organize gold rush activities on a statewide level, representative Jerry Mackie (D-Craig) and senators Arliss Sturgulewski and Virginia Collins (both R-Anchorage) introduced bills in the Alaska legislature in February 1991 that called for the establishment of a seven-member Alaska-Klondike Gold Rush Commission. No action took place on Senate Bill 106. But Mackie's bill, HB 95, was passed by the State Affairs Committee and was forwarded to the Finance Committee. The following year, Mackie made a renewed attempt to move his bill through the legislature. Governor Walter Hickel, however, announced that he intended to veto the bill, should it reach his desk, because of his opposition to the creation of new boards and commissions. [177]

Hickel's action effectively prevented legislative activity related to centennial affairs. Advocates of a state-sponsored centennial effort, however, responded by organizing discussions on the topic at the October meetings of the Alaska Visitors Association and the Alaska Historical Society. Shortly thereafter, the Deputy Director of the state's Division of Tourism, Wendy Wolf, teamed up with State Historic Preservation Officer Judith Bittner to organize the Alaska Gold Rush Centennial Task Force. By April 1993, when its first teleconference was held, the task force had grown into a wide-ranging organization composed of five working committees and more than 100 interested individuals. The task force, supported by operating funds from the Division of Tourism and the Office of Historic Preservation, has remained active in recent years. It has received several capital-budget allotments from the legislature so that the task force can provide grants that further centennial objectives. [178]

Skagway residents, both NPS staffers and other members of the local centennial committee, have been actively involved with the statewide task force. They have also been involved at the local level. One local event took place in October 1993, when the Skagway Centennial Committee and the Convention and Visitors Bureau teamed up with representatives from Dawson City, Yukon and proclaimed the two towns to be sister cities. Activities scheduled in coming years include the Ton of Gold Centennial Re-enactment (1997), the Skagway Statue Dedication in Centennial Park (1997), and the Dyea-to-Dawson Centennial Race (1998). [179]

Community Attitudes Toward the National Park Service

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is a relatively rare park in that its boundaries circumscribe the business district of an active, viable community. As such, there has always been a high potential for conflict between the National Park Service and community residents and officials. Because the park boundary is congruent with that of the Broadway historic district, park officials have long been careful to explain that NPS jurisdiction does not extend beyond the borders of the federally-owned lots. They have also attempted, to the best extent possible, to work with community members in the pursuit of mutual aims. Park officials and community representatives, however, have often had competing, antagonistic aims, and at other times the poor decisions of park officials have aroused community animosity.

As noted in chapters 4 through 10, the NPS over the years has dealt with a host of issues affecting the community. Many, perhaps most, of those issues were tacitly accepted by local residents. Those that have swayed public opinion, however, have been described in some detail.

During the years that preceded the authorization of the park, the NPS was represented by various officials who arrived in town to collect data or to attend public meetings. Many of those officials visited for only a brief period. Two, however, returned with some regularity. Robert E. Howe, the Glacier Bay National Monument superintendent, appeared in town every month or two for several years, and played a valuable role in providing information, clarifying rumors, and explaining policy issues to local townspeople. Another important presence was Laurin Huffman, the Seattle-based historical architect, who provided technical advice to NPS contractors, members of the newly-formed Historic District Commission, and other local residents. Other NPS representatives included Scott Home, Doug Sanvik, and the various other Chilkoot Trail rangers, who began their work in the summer of 1973. Because of the efforts of those individuals, most residents had an initially favorable attitude toward the park, and when park hearings were held in both Skagway and Washington, D.C., support for the park was virtually unanimous.

Community feeling remained positive after Congressional passage of the park bill; it was particularly good after the park was dedicated in June 1977, and may have stayed high until the spring of 1978. Thereafter, however, attitudes toward the park appear to have slipped. A controversy over payments in lieu of taxes, the agency's foot-dragging on the cooperative agreement, the hiring of an out-of-town permanent staff, changes in the makeup of the city council, the lack of immediate restoration activity, a generalized reticence toward the federal government, and general anti-NPS animosity related to the Alaska lands controversy may all have played a role in tarnishing the NPS's image in Skagway. [180]

The arrival of Richard Sims in September 1979 as a replacement for Superintendent Richard Hoffman did little to improve community attitudes toward the park. Sims interacted little with local residents outside of his professional capacities, and his residence in a subsidized, historic-district trailer raised hackles among many in the community. [181]

In 1980, city-park relations took a dramatic turn for the worse when the park issued its land protection plan (see Chapter 8). The provisions of that plan as they pertained to Dyea residents, coupled with the numerous patrols which seasonal rangers took through the Dyea homestead area, brought a storm of controversy upon the Park Service. The conflict reached a head in early 1981 when Skip Elliott, a Dyea resident, became city manager. Elliott skillfully organized community opinion against the agency and, in a confrontational fashion, demanded a series of public meetings to deal with residents' frustrations. (Those frustrations dealt not only with the Dyea land situation, but with Sims' occupancy of a trailer at the administrative site, the shoddy appearance of the NPS-owned buildings, the agency's ownership of several Broadway lots, and the agency's lack of communication with local residents regarding its aims and goals.) John Cook, the Anchorage-based Regional Director, proved to be skilled in responding to the public antipathy, and by June 1981 the situation had been largely defused.

Relations gradually improved during the early 1980s. The NPS backed off of its Dyea land plan, it offered to trade its Broadway lots to the city in exchange for the AB Hall, and it painted most of its buildings along Broadway buildings. Dave Snow, the historical architect, played a positive role by helping to implement a set of design guidelines for historic district buildings; equally important, he hired local carpenters and laborers for his year-round construction crew after the WP&YR shut down in 1982. [182] The park service, however, continued to be scorned by most local residents because tourism, although growing in importance, was a secondary activity in a railroad-dominated town. In the eyes of many residents, park service activities resulted in increased tourism; and tourism, at that scale, was an annoying hindrance. [183]

The local attitude toward the NPS improved considerably during the mid-1980s. The shutdown of the railroad, on October 8, 1982, was a crippling blow to the town's economic base. The effects of the shutdown were slow to take hold. Many hoped that the railroad would soon reopen and that normalcy would return. But as the fruitless wrangling over the railroad's future turned from months into years, community leaders were forced to reassess the park's role--and tourism's role--in Skagway. The park, as a result of that reassessment, was seen in an increasingly positive light; particular factors contributing to that attitude were the increasing number of local residents on the park's payroll, and the completion of work on the historic White Pass depot complex. In April 1985, the Skagway City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the presence of the NPS in Skagway. The resolution, suggested by Councilman Boyd Worley, was considered because Congress was threatening budget cuts to the park's building rehabilitation program. Even so, passage of such a vote would have been unheard of just a few years before. By late November of that year, the local newspaper editor noted that "At least from my observation, the park seems to be fitting into Skagway better as it becomes older." [184]

Community support continued for the remainder of the decade. In March 1986 the Convention and Visitors Bureau supported the park's request for budgetary assistance, and in September the City of Skagway passed another resolution requesting federal funds to allow the NPS to restore park buildings. In 1987, both the council and the chamber of commerce wrote supporting letters. The park, during this period, was allotted capital-improvement money for projects as diverse as White Pass Trail construction and Dyea Campground improvements, but civic officials, in their supporting letters, consistently urged that these funds be redirected to Broadway building restoration projects. [185]

The arrival of Clay Alderson as superintendent was another factor that promoted positive relations with the city. His open-door, can-do attitude was a welcome change. Alderson did his utmost to foster communication by meeting regularly with the city manager, the tourism director, and the chamber of commerce president to discuss issues of mutual concern. He also served on several civic committees, and asked that his staff become similarly involved in community affairs. By the end of 1987, Alderson was able to report that "We presently enjoy an excellent relationship with community leaders." [186]

Park officials have sought every possible opportunity to inform the community about their work and involve local residents, and occasional celebratory events have proven popular. In 1984, for example, the NPS held an open house to celebrate the opening of the White Pass depot, and since that time, park employees have sponsored a holiday open house in December at either the depot or the Mascot Saloon. In 1986, the park celebrated the completion of the first leaseback buildings; a year later, the Moore Cabin was dedicated in a large public ceremony. In 1991, the Mascot Saloon was dedicated; in 1994, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were given a centennial plaque; and in 1995 a ceremony was held to mark the completion of the Peniel project. [187]

During the 1990s, city-park relations have been mixed. They were fairly placid in the early years of the decade. As noted in Chapter 8, however, the removal of the Yukon Radio Control Modelers Club from its campsite on Dyea flats in May 1994 ignited the park's most heated controversy since Skip Elliott's showdown with the agency in 1981. The controversy faded to some degree since that time. The animosity lingering from that event, however, resurfaced during the issue over the city's land selections in Dyea and the Taiya River valley. That controversy is still, as of this writing, continuing.


the Red Onion Saloon, Trail Bench Gift Shop
(top) One of the first decisions faced by park officials dealt with the fate of five locomotives that the WP&YR wanted to sell. Two of the five were 70-class locos, such as the Baldwin 2-8-2 in this photo. The NPS decided to forego purchasing them, and all were sold to rail lines in the Lower 48. (bottom) During the late 1970s and early 1980s, several privately-owned Skagway businesses took advantage of rehabilitation funds that were offered through the State Historic Preservation Office. Among the businesses that benefited from the program were the Red Onion Saloon (left) and the Trail Bench Gift Shop. (KLGO SC #347 (top); David Cohen photo, KLGO SC #1286 (bottom) )

Steve Hites, Janet Steinbach, John Wilson, Jan Wrentmore, Bob Ward, Jeff Brady

Glenda Choate, Judy Munns
(top) Several of those shown in this 1982 photo have played significant roles, over the years, in the Skagway tourism scene. They include (l-r) Steve Hites, Janet Steinbach, John Wilson, Jan Wrentmore, Bob Ward, and Jeff Brady. (bottom) The NPS has had a longstanding relationship with the town's Trail of '98 Museum. Shown here, during museum renovations, are former museum director Glenda Choate (right) and current director Judy Munns. (Skagway News, October 20, 1982, 3 (top) and April 25, 1995, 8 (bottom) )


George Rapuzzi, Jan Wrentmore
(top) In the fall of 1983, Broadway was excavated; the following spring, the street was paved with a special, rough-aggregate asphalt. (bottom) George Rapuzzi, who lived in Skagway from 1899 to 1986, was the owner of Martin Itjen's "Skaguay Street-Car" (shown here, with Jan Wrentmore), "Soapy" Smith's old saloon, and a large collection of other historical materials. The NPS has made several attempts to purchase the collection, thus far without success. (Skagway News, October 26, 1983, 1 (top), and October 10, 1984, 1 (bottom) )

John McDermott

(left) John McDermott, shown here in 1980, was the first head of the Skagway Historical Commission. (right) Some local residents, concerned about overcrowding along Broadway, evidently felt that the NPS was to blame. (Lynn Canal News, October 2, 1980, 8 (left); Michelle Kennedy in the Skagway News, August 3, 1983, 2 (right) )

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000