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Side Trail
Steve Levi

Steve Levi

Steven C. Levi is a sixty-something freelance historian and commercial writer who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, his home for past 40 years. He has a BA in European History and MA in American history from the University of California Davis and San Jose State. He has more than 80 books in print or on Kindle.

Levi specializes in history and creative thinking. His historical specialty is the Alaska Gold rush. He has the only composite book on the Alaska Gold Rush, BOOM AND BUST IN THE ALASKA GOLD FIELDS, and his play "Fanny Quigley's Place" has been a dinner theater presentation in Denali Park since 1995. His other Alaskan books include a history of Alaska's bush pilot frontier, COWBOYS OF THE SKY, THE HUMAN FACE OF THE ALASKA GOLD RUSH and a forensic analysis of Alaska's ghost ship, the Clara Nevada. The Clara Nevada sank in 1898 and came back up in 1908 - minus 100,000 ounces of gold.

In the field of creative thinking, he has developed a method of teaching people to be clever, to "think outside of the box." His educational software won a $40,000 Creative Thinking in Motion prize from the University of Oklahoma in 2005. His approach is to stop "A or B Thinking" and find an alternative. As an example, developing a way for city to balance a budget without raising taxes or cutting services.

Steve Levi
Master Of The Impossible Crime
Author masterminds

Find Steve's books HERE>>      Amazon Author Page HERE>>

[Follow the exploits of Detective Heinz Noonan at www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi. See if you can solve the impossible crimes faster than the detective – matters such as a greyhound bus disappearing off the Golden Gate Bridge, how a plane can fly and land with no pilot, crew or passengers and why would anyone want to steal an empty armored car?]

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound

How can a Greyhound Bus with four bank robbers, $10 million in cash, the contents of all of the safety deposit boxes and 12 hostages being follow by the San Francisco Police vanish off the Golden Gate Bridge?  The police are stumped so a specialist in impossible crimes, Captain Heinz Noonan, the Bearded Holmes, is sent to San Francisco to solve the crime. With the clock ticking, Noonan will have to unravel how the bus was able to disappear – and why there are still hostages if the money has already been stolen and the bank robbers have vanished. Ride along with Captain Heinz Noonan, the nation's foremost impossible crime sleuth, and see if you can solve the crime as fast as he does! Find it HERE>>


Chief of Detectives Heinz Noonan is asked to solve the disappearance of an empty armored car and its two drivers from a tunnel with guards on both ends. Why would anyone want to steal an empty armored car and is it linked the $12 million in cash in the armored car vault under the control of the United States Department of Treasury which vanishes without a trace - legally?  A suspenseful thriller of breathtaking action where the detective must solve an impossible crime before the heist can become an unsolved crime! Find it HERE>>

Stories by Steve Levi

The Seward, Territory of Alaska,

Gold Railway Robbery of 1926

Steve Levi

Late in the Fall of 1926 when the slopes of Mt. Marathon started to pitch snowflakes by the bushel and sleet by the ton the city of Seward a white shroud did become with all folks locked in from September to June thriving on moose meat and dance fiddle tunes. Read the full story HERE>>

Tales of the Alaska Gold Rush

Bacon Harold

Bacon Harold was a squaw man. He didn’t care if people called him a squaw man. He could have cared less. The Eskimo jokes didn’t bother him either. That was because he knew what he had. He had a wife. Not a woman he called a wife that lived in some state far away but a wife to whom he went home each night. The same woman who slept with him every night. A woman who gave him three fine sons. He did not have to cook and clean because she did that. All Bacon Harold had to do was go to work and earn money; his wife, Sarah, would do the rest. Read the full story HERE>>

Jose Aguinaldo Yazzi

Steve Levi

Sometimes a gift of God is also one of the devil. Everyone prays to be the beneficiary of the upside of synchronicity, to be in the right place at the right time. If only you could save someone from certain death and discover that the man was J. P. Morgan! Or find a poke of gold nuggets next to the skeleton of a 49er. Better yet, why not a canvas bag of cash that just happened to fall out of a bank delivery van? Read the full story HERE>>

Vernon Tillmon

Steve Levi

Vernon Tillmon would have failed the paper bag test.


But that wasn't his fault. Not that he looked at it as a fault. That was the way he had been born. He had never been forced to take the paper bag test and no one is Santa Zanni cared that he would have failed the paper bag test first, because there was no paper bag test in Santa Zanni and second, the only people who talked about the paper bag test lived in New York. Read the full story HERE>>

Sherril Romanov

Steve Levi

Sherril Romanov, correctly spelled incorrectly with a single l, had a unique reputation in Santa Zanni. She was every man’s fantasy; a well-built single woman who was an open advocate and practitioner of free love. This is not to say that she was a prostitute for she did not charge for her services. They were provided free with no obligations expected. Read the full story HERE>>

Eagle Eccentric Erwin A. “Nimrod” Robertson

Steve Levi

Eagle, Alaska was one of those communities that could never have been established anywhere else in the world but Alaska. And at no other time in American history than the early days of the Alaska Gold Rush. The founding of the community began on the woodpile in Dawson. In those days the woodpile was for transgressors of the law whose crime was not serious enough to be sent to prison on McNeil Island but too serious to be given a blue ticket and driven out of town. Read the full story HERE>> 

Robert Winchester Lamb

Steve Levi

If there was a single man – in both senses of the adjective – in Santa Zanni who was perfectly named it Robert Winchester Lamb. He was single, a wonderful attribute for a man in his profession, and his middle name hinted at American royalty. He never said he was related to the Winchesters of rifle fame but he did claim a familiarity with the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose which, even then, was considered the strangest home ever constructed. Read the full story HERE>>

Jacob Opinsky

Steve Levi

Jacob Hadassah Opinsky was as Irish as you could get. He had been born in the city of Banja-Luka, 90 miles north northwest of Sarajevo in the heart of Bosnia-Herzegovina. His parents, both Jews from the heartland of Russia, had fled west from the pogroms in the East and settled in Banja-Luka because it was a transportation hub for the region. His father started as a cargo loader on wagons and switched to cargo handling when the trains made their appearance in the Balkans. Read the full story HERE>>

Hortense Hoggatt

Steve Levi

Some people are born to hang; then there are others who can never seem to get anything right. These others are not evil people as the first phrase of the above sentence would seem to imply. They are just inept. They have the innate ability to bungle the easiest of tasks. Every community has one, someone who is passionate about a cause no one else cares about – and for very good reason. But they are decent folk so everyone puts up with their eccentricity. Town folk are polite and forbearing until they close their front door and put the children to bed. Read the full story HERE>>

Thomas Jefferson Jackson Johnson

Steve Levi

Thomas Jefferson Jackson Johnson was the best salt merchant in Alaska. He was a man without peer. This was because there were no other salt merchants in Alaska. He was the only one and if you wanted salt be it by the grain, cup or bag – and everyone did – it had to come from Johnson. Read the full story HERE>>

Matilda McGillicuddy

Steve Levi

Matilda McGillicuddy may have had a name that was right out of a pulp magazine but she was as far from a timid wife as a narwhale was from a rocking chair. She was hard as square nails, an Alaska Gold Rush virago. She took no grief from any man, or woman, and made her own way in life. She was married to a man who made her appear mosey. His name was Denver, like the city, and they were an unbeatable team, the kind of marriage that misfortune avoids to keep its record pure. Denver and Matilda had two children, George and Sara, who were just as tough as their parents. It was a quartet of the worst kind of people to settle in Hootlani: Read the full story HERE>>

Deep Six Harrison

Steve Levi

For the denizens of Hootlani there were only two types of water. These two types,

it should be quickly added, were not the usual “fresh” and “salt” as was known to most Americans in the Year of the Big Snow but were, rather, potable and black. Potable water was that which could be consumed and was found upstream from the community. Black water went downstream to the Bering Sea. That the so-called potable water had been black water from a community upriver was not a matter for consideration as no one had gotten sick from the upstream Caribou River water. However, considering the limited amount of potable water that was mixed with the greatest amount of alcohol along with a periodic table of associated chemicals it was never known whether anyone had become ill because of the river water, alcohol or the associated ingredients therein. Read the full story HERE>>  

Cheechako Charlie

Steve Levi

The worst thing about poverty is being poor and the one man in Hootlani who knew more about both than anyone else was Cheechako Charlie. He was not named

Cheechako Charlie because he was a newcomer to Alaska, a Cheechako, but because he was adept at the fleecing of the same. He was known as Cheechako Charlie because he pretended to be a Cheechako to the gullible and knew about poverty because it was his mission in life to exchange his for another man’s. That is to say, his intent was to trade his poverty for another man’s wealth. Any other man. Read the full story HERE>> 

Billy the Loon

Steve Levi

It is a myth to believe that there are solid lines in real life. The term itself is designed for children who are not old enough to think for themselves. When you tell a child “No” there is no discussion of “Why not?” It is just “No.” When the child asks “Why Not?” the child is now a little person and all lines of demarcation are gone. Read the full story HERE>>

Church Choir Willie

Steve Levi

Church Choir Willie was a master of the profane. His vocabulary was limited and thus the words that he used were few but they were, nonetheless, expressive. Quite expressive. He could singe the bark off a lodge pole pine and be into the wood grain before he finished the sentence. Only Nellie the Pig could match expletive for expletive but only when she was cursing her Methodist husband in some Lilliputian, Baptist town in Georgia where women, sharecroppers and neighbors’ daughters were only a step away from chains. Read the full story HERE>>

Jakob Lefkowitz

Steve Levi

Paradise, contrary to the exposition of philosophers, is not a place of indulgence. It is a land without them. It is a location with no in-laws, tariffs, permits, traffic signs or badges. The worst of these afflictions of civilization was the last for once a piece of metal is pinned onto the cloak of a man he becomes an automaton. He loses his human perspective and enforces a world of black scribbling on white paper designed to protect blue blood from red ink. Read the full story HERE>>

Jerome Findlay Quidley III
Steve Levi

Jerome Findlay Quidley III – and that was exactly what he demanded everyone call him, right down to "the Third" – would allow no sobriquet. He was Jerome Findlay Quidley the Third, of the Portland Quidleys. Not Portland, Oregon, either. But the other Portland. Maine. Gem of the East Coast. Founded from a land grant in 1623 and then named Machigonne. The name Portland came later as did the city's bird, the Phoenix, and its motto Resurgam, "I will rise again." Which was not surprising considering the city’s icon was, after all, a Phoenix. Read the full story HERE>>


Steve Levi

No one knew what kind of an Indian Rufus was. Or if he was an Indian at all. He had to be some kind of a Native because he was dark. Since Hootlani was close to the Bering Sea and all the Natives here were Eskimo, it was a good bet that Rufus was an Eskimo. But he didn’t look like an Eskimo and everyone who had been in the Interior said he didn’t look like an Athabaskan either. His name was hardly an Indian or Eskimo name. It was Southern, southern United States, and rural. Read the full story HERE>>

Captain Alonso Shepherd

Steve Levi

Alonso Shepherd, Captain Alonso Shepherd, was the master of the Bella Ann. It was his ship. It might have been owned by the Portland Steamship and Lighterage Syndicate but he was god for every tick of the clock from the instant the ship left the Portland dock until it returned two weeks later. He had the power of life and death over every crew member and anyone else on board. That being said, he was the perfect match for his job. Read the full story HERE>>

Read More Stories by Steve Levi in the
Beyond the Western section HERE>>