Red Ink and Rewrites Too

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Soapy Smith

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Histarch Subject: New Book by Cathy Spude

The University of Oklahoma Press has just published my new book, “That Fiend in Hell”: Soapy Smith in Legend. Soapy Smith’s story is well-known to people who like popular culture, and those who are familiar with Alaskan history. As an anthropologist, I show how his legend grew out of the myth of the American West to make him a character the likes of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Wyatt Earp. That Fiend in Hell is an expose of how historic events are interpreted even at the time of their occurance within the social mileau of a culture’s understanding of their own value system. See http://www.oupress.com/ECommerce/Book/Detail/1686/that%20fiend%20in%20hell  for more information, or go to Amazon.com.
Catherine H. Spude, PhD

Congratulations! What a lot of work that must have been. I thought I heard of Soapy Smith perhaps in the stories of Colorado, of which “Myers Avenue: A Quick History of Cripple Creek’s Red Light District” by c) 1967 by Leland Feitz Library of Congress Catalog Card No 68-405 is one he might have been part of before leaving for Skagway, Alaska.

I enjoyed that summer 1980 out West through the ash of Mt. St. Helens on a Greyhound, a jet and then a small plane from Juneau to Skagway to work on Alaska’s first RR station and the Captain Moore Cabin. The airport there is better as seen in the recent Microsoft “Flight” a virtual Skagway geography along with the rest of Alaska and Hawaii.

I found this on Amazon and sent it to my Kindle, a scanned article from “Cassier’s Magazine” titled “Across the Chilkoot Pass by wire cable” from the Dyea tide and river side, found on microform in the Provincial Archives of British Columbia circa 1981 c) Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions. The funicular, “powered by rope or cable” was planned to go from Sheep Camp to Crater Lake, in contract, then “since” extended to a point known as Canyon Camp connecting with a surface road “running through the Dyea Canyon, and along the Dyea river, to the head of the tidewater thus making an uninterrupted transportation between Dyea and Crater Lake” “Later on” its author states “the cable system will, undoubtedly, be extended to Lake Linderman, the head of lake navigation”. (William Hewitt b. 1853 http://archive.org/details/cihm_15214)

It has many diagrams and pictures of its construction and how it developed. It shows a similar funicular system was used in New York state on “a wire rope tramway used by the Solvay Process Company at Syracuse, N.Y shows both wooden and iron supports”. I had the opportunity to ponder the Solvay location before they took the plant down. Interestingly the Solvay process of soda ash is named after a French sociologist! It’s reported a large amount of dynamite used in WWI was made there in the Split Rock quarries, and if the chemical fire, which ran out of water to control it, had jumped the creek, it would have leveled Syracuse with the disputed force of a small “atomic bomb” if the dynamite stored in small wooden barrels had caught fire. Albert Einstein disputed that in a letter, a researcher of the Solvay Plant had. The line had been “used for carrying lime rock from the Split Rock quarries to the soda ash works, at Geddes.” There are some problems with the scan however in getting some of the distances and numbers.

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  1. If you want to know the entire authentic story of Soapy Smith you need to read Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel (2009) by Jeff Smith.

    Jeff Smith

    02/23/2013 at 3:16 am


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