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05 September 2015

Skaguay News Depot & Books, Skagway, Alaska

   My previous article on Alaska related a few of  my 1973 memories. This article follows the Alaskan theme. Wandering around Juneau and Skagway, we usually find our way into bookstores and museums, asking for area history, writers and lore. This book fit all three categories. Klondike Newsman compiled and edited by R.N. DeArmond. My book review is on Facebook and Examiner.

  The Skagway book store has a unique name and history, Skaguay News Depot & Books, OPEN ALL YEAR. As a tourist in Alaska, we found this unique. Most shop store staff told us they close and go else were for the non-tourist months. The lady we talked with was very helpful, knowledgeable and answered all our questions with appropriate book suggestions. She is the real deal, not a transplant.

Every book receives a bookmark: 
The original accepted spelling of our city was "Skagua," a Tlingit word meaning "windy place." When the stampeders landed here in 1897, they anglicized it by adding a "y." However, by the fall of 1898 some local businesses, including the DAILY ALASKAN, had replaced the "u" with a "w." The issue came to a head when the U.S. Post Office put a "w" in the city's new postmark. The rival SKAGUAY NEWS lambasted the change in the following editorial on October 14, 1898:
"We note what might be termed an idiotic tendency on the part of a few people in this city to change its name from 'SKAGUAY' to 'SKAGWAY.' It is true someone connected with the post office department away back in Washington has seen fit to denominate that the name of our city be spelled with a 'w' instead of a 'u,' thus making the name of our city two syllables instead of three. But the fact that the post office department has seen fit to do away with the rhythm of our city's name and substitute a more harsh, if shorter one, is no reason why we should adopt it . . . The name of our city has always been known to the commercial world as Skaguay, with a 'u' and as such it should be known . . .If Skaguay owes the post office department any thanks for anything, let the bill be presented. In the meantime, spell it with a 'u'"
By the end of the gold rush in 1900, even the SKAGWAY NEWS had made the switch, but we continue to spell some of our names with a "u." It's our history to be different.

Thank you for being different. May you continue for many years to come.

Skaguay News Depot & Books
264 Broadway
P.O. Box 498
Skagway, Alaska

As an extra note, the Klondike Newsman mentions Sam Dunham and prints his poems on pages 92 and 160. Do not know anything more about Sam. More book reviews to follow.