When business for his many ventures in Skagway was
slow Martin Itjen built a tour bus from an old Ford
bus. Martin referred to it as a "streetcar." He began giving tours of
the goldrush town. By the 1930s he became Skagway's premier tour agent.
most picturesque car carried a bear cub on the front, the bear growling
pointing to the right or left as the car turned. A small mannequin on
was operated by foot pedal. He nodded his head, waved a flag, rang a
puffed exhaust smoke through a cigarette. One of the buses had an
Soapy Smith that at the pull of a handle, Martin would make Soapy
walking pedestrians as he passed them. The buses toured the streets of
and visited the Gold Rush Cemetery and other Skagway attractions.
was quite a show: he recited poetry, told stories, and related humorous
anecdotes of Skagway during the gold rush.
1935, as a great
publicity stunt, Martin took his
"streetcar" to Hollywood to promote Skagway tourism. He called on
big screen starlet Mae West to "come up and visit him sometime." The
pair was popular with newsmen and photographers. Martin attracted
screen queens to his side, for phot.ographs, while in the movie
Examples of media clips featuring Martin and these lovely ladies can be
found here. Skagway, Alaska had become a tourist stop, thanks to Martin.
In 1938 Martin
published a book and an LP (long playing)
record, entitled, The Story of the Tour on the Skagway, Alaska Street
Martin's tours were theatrical productions, complete with motorized
actors, poetry and humorous anecdotes, all relating to the colorful
Skagway and its inhabitants.