Soapy Smith's Petrified Man

It was in Creede that Soapy produced one of his more bizarre methods of obtaining wealth and fame. He introduced "McGinty," the petrified man, claiming to have purchased him from some miners who had unearthed him in the outskirts of Creede. 

 

A thin dime was all one needed to see McGinty, the Petrified Man...Games played while waiting in line cost extra. McGinty was in Creede camp for only a short time, and then moved to Denver.

 

Soapy and the other sporting and saloon men recieved word that Denver was relaxing its restrictions on drinking and gambling. It appears that Denver suffered more from imposing the reforms when so many of the businesses that produced city revenue had left for Creede. The only way to get them all back was to allow them to operate as they had done in the past, without restrictions. Soapy was welcomed back to Denver as the city fathers knew he would bring most of his associates back with him. It was perfect timing for the gamblers and saloon men to leave Creede because on June 5, 1892 the entire main business district of Creede was destroyed in a horrific fire.

 

Soapy's Orleans Club was one of the buildings lost in the fire. Creede did attempt to rebuild, but never again reached the status it had when Soapy Smith ran the town.

 



The following was published in November 1960 in Real West magazine by George Malcom Majors under the title, Soapy Smith's Greatest Hoax. 

 

Although the old Creede newspapers were pretty detailed about McGinty apparently few of the early biographers were able to find copies of the articles.

 

As so usual, many authors simply made up their own information.

 

 

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The famed con man Soapy Smith had a petrified man that he "found" in 1892 in Creede, Colorado.  It went on display in Denver in his auction house (to draw in victims) and he sold it in 1895 in Washington state.

 

It is now on display in Seattle at the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. I have a scan of the photo taken of it in the 1890s and it is definitely the same as the one in Seattle.

 

Turns out it is a real human, intentionally petrified. I believe I know the identity of the corpse. Everything I have is sourced and published in my book, Alias Soapy Smith.

 

The only story I can't confirm is the identity of the corpse, but there was a man shot by Soapy and the gang in Creede, who supposedly escaped wounded.

 

 


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