Soapy Smith

In the first full biography of the notorious con man Soapy Smith in more than forty years, Alaskan historian Jane Haigh chronicles the rise to power of a man without a conscience. Starting as a street corner shell game artist, Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith rose to power as a gang leader in Denver, then chose raw, lawless Skagway as his headquarters to fleece the thousands of tenderfeet heading for the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. Less than a year later he was dead, killed in a vigilante shootout on the Skagway wharf.
Well spoken and charming, Soapy could have been a businessman, minister, politician lawyer, or judge, but he chose to use his talents as a confidence man. In Skagway he gathered shills and toughs from around the West and commanding his gang as a colonel might command a battalion, he constructed an empire that any Mafia don might envy. King Con documents Soapy’s life from his infamy as a Denver crook and gang leader and his take over of early Creed, Colorado, to the fake businesses, rigged card games, and brutal murders that marked his year of dominance in Gold Rush Skagway. This fascinating biography is illustrated with period photographs that show Soapy and his gang from their glory days to his autopsy in 1898.


Paperback: $9.95

In the first full biography of the notorious con man Soapy Smith in more than forty years, Alaskan historian Jane Haigh chronicles the rise to power of a man without a conscience. Starting as a street corner shell game artist, Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith rose to power as a gang leader in Denver, then chose raw, lawless Skagway as his headquarters to fleece the thousands of tenderfeet heading for the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. Less than a year later he was dead, killed in a vigilante shootout on the Skagway wharf.

Well spoken and charming, Soapy could have been a businessman, minister, politician lawyer, or judge, but he chose to use his talents as a confidence man. In Skagway he gathered shills and toughs from around the West and commanding his gang as a colonel might command a battalion, he constructed an empire that any Mafia don might envy. King Con documents Soapy’s life from his infamy as a Denver crook and gang leader and his take over of early Creed, Colorado, to the fake businesses, rigged card games, and brutal murders that marked his year of dominance in Gold Rush Skagway. This fascinating biography is illustrated with period photographs that show Soapy and his gang from their glory days to his autopsy in 1898.

In researching Soapy’s activities in Denver, Jane came across so much material that she has now decided to make Con Men and Political Corruption in Denver the focus of her Dissertation.

There are many fascinating links in the Soapy Smith Story that you can find on the net.

Jefferson Randolph Smith IV has a very interesting site:

Home Page For Soapy Smith

And, you’ll want to read about Denver’s Mayors, including Mayor Speer, and Colorado’s Senators:  Henry Teller; Nathanial Hill, Tom Patterson, Ed Wolcott.

Also, Colorado’s populist Governor Davis Waite.

Check out: Denver History

by historian Tom Noel

The Skagway Alaska CVB, is a good place to start for visitor information.

The town of Skagway is now a part of Klondike National Park. But the multi-unit park also includes a visitors center in Seattle, the famous Chilkoot Trail, and  Klondike National Park in Canada includes the famous town of Dawson City, the ultimate goal of the prospectors.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (National Park Service)

Dawson City

Ghosts of the gold rush

The best site for links to all kinds of information on the North, Explorenorth, Stop by and tell Murray  I said hello

Your Gateway to the Circumpolar North – ExploreNorth

“Legacy of the Goldrush” administrative history of Klondike National Park, by eminent Park Service and Alaska Historian Frank Norris

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park: Administrative History

After Soapy was eased out of Denver, the situation id not improve, in fact, another gang operated in a very similar manner until they were finally shut down in 1922.

Read about :

The Blonger Gang: Denver 1921

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