Courtesy of the snow bound folks in Valdez, Alaska
I stopped by the grocery store on Friday morning, and was amazed at how many people wanted to encroach into my 6 foot bubble. I wasn’t even in the TP aisle! I wondered if people just don’t know what a six foot gap looks like. Lo & behold, the fine folks in Valdez have had the same thought.
In all honesty, this is the only time of year in Alaska where one sees only 457 mosquitoes in a space of six feet. Swatting season is just around the corner!
A photo of Bobby Sheldon crossing a river, probably on his 1913 trek from Fairbanks to Valdez. Sheldon was an interesting character, even by Alaska standards. He was the first civilian to drive an automobile the length of the Old Valdez – Fairbanks trail. It took Sheldon 4 days to travel the 360 miles in a Model T.
He also built the very first car in Alaska in 1905. In fact, it remains the only vehicle, on record, ever manufactured in the state. When Sheldon built the car in Skagway, he had never seen a car first hand. It was built by pictures and diagrams.
As a Skagway newspaper boy in 1898, a young Bobby Sheldon witnessed the death of the notorious Jefferson “Soapy” Smith in a gunfight with Frank Reid. Smith died there on the Juneau wharf, Reid died of his wounds 12 days later.
Sheldon on what he saw: “He (Smith) was sprawled out with his Stetson lying there, but nobody dared put his feet together or place his hands over his heart. They didn’t dare show sympathy for fear somebody would pull out a gun.”
Sheldon brought up the first Model T Fords for his “auto stage” which ran between Fairbanks in the interior and Valdez on the coast. Eventually he included Pope Toledos and Studebakers entered service in the 1920’s.
Sheldon went on to become an Alaska road commissioner, a Fairbanks postmaster, he served in the Alaska Territorial Legislature as well as the first State Legislature when Alaska was granted statehood. Bobby Sheldon died in 1983 at the age of 99.