The Dexter, Nome AK

Wyatt and Josephine Earp in Nome, AK

My daughter recently went to Nome, Alaska and sent me this photo of her by the sign for The Dexter, the saloon that the Earps co-owned. The sign is a replica of Wyatt Earp’s business card. I saw the real one in the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum there—a heady experience for me! The following is based on the original post I wrote about this topic, posted on Aug, 15, 2014.

You may wonder if the Earps really were in Nome in 1900, as my book Quicksilver to Gold suggests. They were.

Wyatt Earp was most famous for his participation in the O. K . Corral gunfight in Tombstone. His vivacious wife Josephine came to Tombstone as a member of a Gilbert and Sullivan traveling troupe, and one person called her “long on daring but short on decorum.” (I call her Josie in the book, since Josephine seemed too formal for the kind of woman she was, by the time we meet her in 1900.) Wyatt and Josephine led a long life together after that event. They split their time between California and gold rushes around the West, Wyatt sometimes making their living in gambling saloons. They followed the Klondike Gold Rush, spending time in Rampart and St. Michael. Then they built the Dexter Saloon in Nome, Alaska in 1899, with Charlie Hoxie. Josie’s brother Nathan joined them at one point.

As I describe in my novel, The Dexter was one of the nicer establishments in Nome, with mirrors and draperies from San Francisco, and polished wood panels and wallpaper on the walls. The Earps met many famous people in Nome including Jack London, Rex Beach, and a young Herbert Hoover. Wyatt was arrested for participating in a fight, but released. Josie helped with relief work after a storm destroyed much of the town. I enjoyed weaving these facts into the plot of Quicksilver to Gold.

The Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome ( has great articles from the time period and cool artifacts from the Dexter Saloon. There are many nonfiction books about the Earps. My favorite is Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller ( My favorite novels about the Earps are Doc and Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell ( I highly recommend them if you’d like to learn more about Wyatt and Josie and the adventurous life they led.

And, of course, if you’re interested in my YA/NA historical romance Quicksilver to Gold, you can see it on my Library page or go to

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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