Blog Archives

9th Annual Soapy Smith Night Photos


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The 9th Annual Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle, held on July 8, 2012, was a great success! We had 420 attendees, and raised $2,520 for the Vernon Fund!

Thanks, everyone!

For nine years, the Magic Castle has celebrated the famous gunfight on the wharf at Skagway, Alaska on July 8, 1898, when the great Soapy Smith, the King of the Frontier Conmen, and the finest exponent of the Shell Game thet ever lived, was gunned down and his gang of 100 con men who had ruled the entry to the Gold Rush from its inception were arrested or scattered.

At the Magic Castle, we have a wonderful party each year to celebrate the memory of this clever bad man. We turn the place into a Gold Rush era saloon, with antique gambling tables for Chuck a Luck, Faro, Black Jack, and Roulette, along with all sorts of other games like the Shell Game, Three-Card Monte and Fast and Loose. There are prizes for the best dealer and most successful player. We have a costume contest as well. Everyone dresses up in 1890’s attire, and there are prizes for the most authentic, funniest, and sexiest costumes. We have a toast to Soapy’s ghost, and live Old Time music provided by Professor Dave Bourne and the Medicine Show Band.  Chef Anton, the two-time national trick shot champion at pool, presents his incredible demonstration of billiards wizardry. We have a live auction, presided over by professional auctioneer and wonderful magician/vaudevillian, Rob Zabrecky.

It is one of the most fun nights  of the year at the Magic Castle.

“Ya’ wanna’ see Fitzhugh Lee — Soapy Smith’s famous eagle?”


Fitzhugh Eagle

My dear friend Jeff Smith sent me this wonderful photograph of the Eagle that was given to Soapy Smith and displayed in back of Jeff Smith’s Parlor. It was the origin of the Alaskan phrases “I’m goin’ to see the eagle” and “I’m goin’ to show him the eagle” the former meaning I am going to relieve myself, and the latter meaning “I’m going to mug this stupid Cheechawko.” Both referred to the space out back where men went to pee behind the saloon, and also to where Soapy’s men would supposedly mug folk with a poke. Probably not true, since Soapy wouldn’t allow much of any disrepute, including gambling in his “headquarters.”

Here is what Jeff says:

“The photograph was taken by Rev. John Sinclair on July 4, 1898 just before the parade.

“The float, a freight wagon, holds a large wire cage containing the live American bald eagle given to Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith.

Behind the wagon a man holding a large American flag will be followed by Soapy’s private army, the Skaguay Military Company, in which Soapy is Captain. The small boy dressed as “Uncle Sam” is the 9-y…ear-old son of Soapy’s business partner John Clancy. The wagon rests in front of Soapy’s saloon, Jeff Smith’s Parlor (far right). The white and grey horse between the Parlor and the wagon is Soapy’s. He will be riding the same as the fourth division marshal of the parade, but Soapy manages to force his way to the front of the parade, becoming the unofficial grand marshal.”

–Jeff Smith

You can find out much more about Soapy Smith, the “King of the Frontier Con Men” by the website of his great-grandson and biographer, Jeff Smith at http://www.soapysmith.net/

%d bloggers like this: