I'm not quite sure what brought "The Red Dog Saloon" all of its notariety, but it does seem to be a place that most people want to see when they visit Juneau. The Red Dog's own website doesn't even list much of its history except to give some minor descriptions and devotes the major portion of the site to sales of its apparently hugely profitable merchandise line.
~ A Scant History ~
During the zenith of Alaska's mining era, some entrepreneurial spirit saw a chance to rake in the dollars from miners and perhaps some curiosity seekers by providing entertainment as well as alcoholic refreshments. One character called "Ragtime Hattie" played piano in white gloves and silver dollar halter top for patrons. It's also said that some previous owners used to meet tour boats with a mule that wore a sign reading "follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon."
The red building with the swinging wooden doors leaves no doubt that it is still a saloon. Inside you'll find sawdust on the floor, Wyatt Earp's pistol, hunting trophies, and honkie-tonk kind of music. Visitors from around the world have added to the visual interest of the saloon by leaving behind paper currency which has then been stapled to the walls. (It's really interesting to see all the places around the world that the paper money is from but I have been to several places where this same sort of thing is done!) Drinks are still sold at a premium price to tourists, and some people really seem to enjoy the spectacle of it all. But the current owners have really "struck gold" with their souvenir store and online-sales business.
I wanted to see for myself what the Red Dog Saloon was like and upon entering the establishment, the present ownership puts on a somewhat convincing attempt to recreate the baudy atmosphere of the saloon from days past. However, it just didn't seem authentic enough for me to consider it anything but a tourist trap. I much prefered the more authentic atmosphere at a similar saloon in Skagway!! Just a personal preference!
Sitting pride of place behind the bar is a framed pistol, which was once owned by Wyatt Earp!
On June 27 1900, Wyatt Earp was in Juneau and checked his gun into the local Marshall’s office.
It is claimed that the Marshall’s office was closed when Wyatt Earp set sail for Nome at 5am on June 29th, aboard the SS Senator.
The sign read – "CHECKED – but never claimed."
The interior of the Red Dog Saloon is worth a look! You could spend an hour in here just soaking up the “old time” atmosphere and checking out the many ornaments and decorations from time gone by.
There is a plethora of moose and elk heads, bears, deer and other critters assembled between various ships bells, flags, mining tools and guns from the more colorful early days of Juneau’s history.
In fact, the Red Dog Saloon is known as being the oldest man made structure in Juneau…and it has plenty of stories to tell!
This is a must see place in Juneau…it is a true experience!
In the early days of the red Dog Saloon, the owners would often take their mule down to the docks and greet the ships as they docked. The mule would wear a large sign that said, “Follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon.” This humor is still alive and well today!
Upon entering this establishment, through it's wild west swinging saloon doors, you feel sawdust under your feet and hear the laughter and chatter of the visitors that are soaking up the old time atmosphere!