Just a week or so ago the newly published Atlas Obscura, subtitled, “An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders,” arrived on my desk sporting an enthusiastic recommendation from fantasy and comic book writer, Neil Gaiman.
That’s not true any more, there have been at least half a dozen substitute toes since that time. One was stolen; another was swallowed on purpose by a fellow who had the event filmed on a smart phone and posted on YouTube. As a result of that escapade there is now a fine of $2500 for toe-swallowers.
The Atlas article incorrectly states that one toe is used for every drink, and that’s not true. They have several in reserve. Some have been inadvertently tossed out with the napkin they were wrapped in after a session. At one point there was a full set of toes (a foot, so to speak), donated for a fellow from Outside, courtesy of an accident with a lawnmower.
The account in the Atlas is necessarily brief. There are two books that go into more detail.
Dieter Reinmuth compiled a collection called The Saga of the Sourtoe back in 1987, and keeps it in print. It contains some material by Stevenson and reprints from the Yukon News, the Klondike Sun, Up Here and The Yukoner Magazine.
Stevenson himself published Captain Dick’s Au’toe’biography in 2009 and put out four revised and expanded editions between then and 2012.