Friday, 23 January 2015

Old West Photo Friday: A Saloon in Alaska

Here's a fun photo of a little saloon called the Road House, in Bluff City, Alaska, c. 1906. This was one of the many mining towns that attracted prospectors to America's last frontier. Of course, all that digging made them thirsty.

As you can see, the Road House wasn't much of a place. Some saloons were even worse, being simple tents or, in warmer areas, just a board propped up by a couple of barrels and set alongside the path to the mines. Many saloon owners were basically traveling salesmen, going from mining town to mining town with their tent and booze packed in a wagon. When the diggings got scarce and the miner's money ran low, they'd head to a more promising town. The miners moved from place to place too, always hoping to hit the Mother Lode.

Most miners never struck it rich. A better way to make a living was to "mine the miners" by selling them overpriced booze or tools or canned goods. While everyone talks about the lucky prospectors who struck it rich, the real moneymakers in these towns were the businesses that supplied the miners.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I believe it.

Jack Badelaire said...

Great photo. I was raised in a small Alaskan town, and I've no doubt that little saloons like this were common where I grew up. Interestingly, Google managed to get a Street View vehicle into my old hometown a few years ago, so I'm able to take a virtual tour of the place after 30 years. Sadly, it didn't age well.

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