Thursday, September 1, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 2

Originally the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition was planned for 1907 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush but that date conflicted with a fair being planned for Jamestown, Virginia so the A-Y-P was rescheduled for 1909. Opening day was June 1 and it ran through the summer closing October 16.

By 1909 all of our immigrant ancestors were living in Seattle or on their way here to go to the Fair. One of our ancestors, Didrik “Dick” Thompson, was an honor guard at the Fair. As mentioned in an earlier post I have been collecting postcards from the Exposition for the past several years. Perhaps this card will be a good introduction to future posting of cards from the A-Y-P.

The mayor of Seattle at that time, John Miller, was concerned about security at the Exposition and requested a special group of police officers be hired specifically for the Fair. His request was approved and money appropriated for the months the Fair was to run. It was proposed that the corps have one Captain, six Sergeants, 68 patrolmen and 10 detectives including plain-clothes men. The amount of $1500 per month was put aside for the plain-clothes men but no amount was mentioned for the other officers. It is not clear if they were just added temporarily to the regular city police staff. The postcard has most of the members of the guard but not all of them. There are only three plain-clothes men in the very back and it looks like only two Sergeants with the captain in the front. It is a little difficult to count the others but I did come up with 50 or 51 more than once, which would mean that about ten to fifteen people are not shown. We have tentatively identified Dick, however, as fifth from the left in the third row.

The Fair was a huge success. Opening day had 80,000 visitors and Seattle Day, September 6, 1909 topped that with 117,003 visitors. Over 3 million people visited the Fair during its four and a half month run. At the urging of Edmund Meany the grounds of the University of Washington were used for the Fair. At that time there were only three University buildings, Denny (1895), Parrington (1902), and Lewis (ca 1902), on mostly forested land and there was some concern about the distance many people would have to travel to get there. It worked out fine.

The Exposition buildings were to be temporary structures with the exception of four buildings that were to become permanent parts of the University. The Drumheller fountain and Frosh Pond are Exposition reminders today. The Forestry building was constructed of logs and was the largest log cabin ever built. Unfortunately that magnificent building couldn’t survive the test of time and succumbed to beetles and other damage and had to be torn down. It stood where the HUB is today. The first Bagley Hall (Chemistry building) was another that was later demolished and replaced. Meany Hall suffered damage in the 1965 earthquake and was also replaced with a newer building. Architecture Hall, I think, is the only one still in use and it has been extensively renovated. The other buildings were made of wood and plaster like materials and while they looked beautiful during the Fair they were not made to last much beyond those months.

One of the more interesting, to me, things that involved the guards during the fair was the gate-crasher incident. The guards noticed men arriving with muddy shoulders and at first didn’t pay too much attention but when it was pointed out that the Fair was perhaps losing a large sum of money due to gate crashing things got more serious. The guards scoured the grounds looking for illegal entry points and couldn’t find anything. Then they noticed that men coming from the vicinity of the Hoo Hoo House (A logging fraternity) were brushing dirt and mud off their shoulders. A closer inspection revealed a well used trail leading to a loose manhole cover. An officer dropped down inside and found a discarded torch. A new sewer, not yet in use, was a tunnel that men were crawling though to enter the Fair grounds. Several other loose manhole covers were found. It was eventually estimated that about 2,000 men had gotten into the grounds that way without paying. No women were identified as gate-crashers through the tunnel but that doesn’t necessarily mean there were none. Three young men were eventually captured and spent the day in detention, they confessed and provided estimates of the people using the tunnel. The manhole covers were secured and the entrance to the sewer tunnel was boarded up and padlocked.

For additional information about the gate-crashing incident and other things concerning the Expo please see

No comments:

Post a Comment