Staff at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park recently moved the original “Skagway Alaska Street Car” to a new home. At the same time, they provided an excellent opportunity for visitors to enjoy a rare sight from the museum collection and enjoy photo sessions with this popular one-of-a kind vehicle from the 1920s.
Known as “Street Car No. 1,” the last remaining custom- built touring vehicle was engineered by Skagway promoter, Martin Itjen. It was built on a Packard chassis from 1910, and hybridized with a tuck from Veerac motor company (circa 1910-1914). (Veerac: Valveless, Explosion Every Revolution, Air cooled Engine…)
The weather cooperated last week with clear skies, allowing the Street Car to be towed by an electric Gem and making three stops along the route. Many local residents and school children were thrilled to get a glimpse of this icon, cared for through the years by gold rush collector, George Rapuzzi. Local tour guide, Doug Smith portrayed Itjen and encouraged visitors and locals alike to pose for pictures, while he exuberantly spouted gold rush poetry and wit with a big smile. Itjen is remembered for meeting ships at the dock and selling tours for fifty cents a person. The car’s appearance generated much excitement and park staff asked visitors to help protect this museum artifact by taking only pictures, and not touching or climbing aboard. It was donated to the national park in 2008 through a generous donation of the Rasmuson Foundation. The new and improved storage area will provide better conditions for the conservation work planned over the next few years.