Yukon River Sternwheeler
by Murray Lundberg
Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers
Northern Ships and Shipping
Please note that, at present, this is merely an accumulation of data, part of a database of material on all Yukon-Alaska steamboats compiled by Murray Lundberg. Additions, corrections or comments are always welcome - just drop Murray a note.
Below, Yukoner in the 1940s
- Canadian Shipping Registry #107098, registered at Victoria.
- wooden sternwheeler; 170.8 feet long, with 32 foot beam and 5.75 foot hold. Gross tonnage 781.31, registered as 492.23 tons. One deck, carvel build, billett head and square stern. She had accommodation for 45 passengers.
The Klondike Nugget
August 24, 1898
- the engine room was 37 feet long, housing a pair of high-pressure horizontal engines built by Dubuque Iron Works of Dubuque, Iowa; the cylinders were 16 inch diameter, 84 inch stroke, developing 17 NHP.
- 1898, built at Victoria by Captain John Irving's Canadian Pacific Navigation Company. On June 22 1898, materials were shipped to St. Michael on the Danube, and assembled at St. Michael by Alexander Watson.
- she was launched with champagne by a blonde dance-hall girl, and her first trip left St. Michael on August 8, under the command of Captain Irving. The boat had a large gold eagle on the front of the pilothouse, and Irving hung a photo of a bulldog inside; he also had a large Negro manservant always with him. On the first trip up the river, Irving had somehow managed to put 300 people on board, "mostly musicians, actors, dance-hall girls and gamblers, plus a generous cargo of liquor" (Downs,p.72) The boat arrived at Dawson on August 22 with only 43 passengers (KN,Aug.24). The trip was unofficially the fastest ever from St.Michael to Dawson, with 8 days and 5 hours steaming and the rest cutting wood (KN,Aug.24).
- Captain Irving was famous for his flambouyant charges at docks or ships, usually reversing the engines just in time to avoid a collision. On his return to St.Michael, Irving charged the steamer Danube, which was sitting at anchor in the harbour; he misjudged the charge, and damaged Yukoner. The boat was then sold to Pat Galvin, "the man who bought steamboats the way others buy a suit of clothes", for $45,000 (Berton). Galvin's company was the North British American Trading & Transportation Company.
- ca. August 1898, Galvin gave each of his new crew members a $20 gold-piece, and headed for Dawson, with the boat in command of Captain R. C. Morine. A few miles up the river, the boiler exploded, and after repairs were made, they got wintered in at Russian Mission. Galvin left for Dawson by dogteam, and the steamer did not reach Dawson until June 24 1899 (W.R.Curtin, "Yukon Voyage"). During the winter, "the tension drove the captain to such eccentricities that the crew mutinied and overthrew him," the only mutiny ever on the Yukon (Berton). Affleck says the mutiny was caused by a final incident of abuse by Captain Morine on May 3, as the steamer was being readied for the season.
- June 1899, upon arrival at Dawson, Mrs. McNaughton of San Francisco sued for damages for not delivering her to Dawson during the previous season (KN,July1)
- August 26 1898, the dock collapsed while Yukoner was loading at Dawson, tossing 30 people into the river; nobody was seriously hurt (KN,Aug.30).
- ca. 1898, purser Thomas Cunningham invited Belinda Mulroney for breakfast; the bill, including champagne, shocked Cunningham, at $60 (Berton).
The Klondike Nugget
April 12, 1899
- 1899, with the Dawson tug Clara, owned by The Trading and Exploring Co., Ltd. She was in command of Captain R. C. Morine. She was advertised as "The fastest and most elegantly appointed steamer on the Yukon River."
- 1900, bought by the Canadian Development Co. and put on the upper river run.
- May 2 1900, partially burned at Dawson; photo in Cohen, p.72. Repaired; left on first trip of the season on June 3; photo in Cohen,p.15.
- for much of the 1900 season, medical inspections were required as boats arrived at Dawson; Yukoner arrived on July 10, 19, 31, August 9 (with 65 passengers) and 18. After August 24, the inspections were done at Log Cabin (GOV 1684, f.71).
- July 1900, J. A. Coveney passed through Whitehorse, having come from Dawson on Yukoner, on a "blue ticket" from the NWMP (meaning that he got kicked out of town). He had been "carrying on an extensive blackmailing business... through which he had amassed several thousand dollars; he was caught and the money returned." (Tribune, July 24).
Yukoner in Five Finger Rapids
Click photo to enlarge
- The crew of Yukoner in Yukon Archives photo #4016, dated October 10, 1900: standing are George Tribe, Steward; Charles Martin, clerk; Jack Green, Pilot; Mr. Armstrong, Second Engineer; sitting are Charles Bloom, First Mate; William Turnbull, Master; C. J. Larsen, Chief Engineer; and Mr. Jorgenson (?), Purser; in front is Alf Green.
- 1900-1901, wintered at Whitehorse (WHT,Oct.13).
- April 1 1901, all 17 CDCo. steamers were bought by the British Yukon Navigation Company; this included 3 Stikine River boats, 4 lake boats, and 10 Yukon River steamers.
- September 7 1901, arrived at Whitehorse with over 100 passengers (Tribune, Sept.7).
- 1902, partially burned at Dawson;rebuilt (McBride).
- 1902, launched but not used for most of season, due to a delay in receiving new cylinders from the east (COR722).
- October 8 1902, mate John Morgan had his leg badly smashed above the ankle when the steam capstan he was using to get the boat off a bar at Minto Crossing busted. At Whitehorse hospital, his leg was amputated twice, the second time above the knee (COR722).
- 1903 crew: Master, William Turnbull; pilot, George Shaver; Mate, E. J. Ruxton; purser, Percy B. Graves; chief engineer, P. Larsen; second engineer, W. C. Vey; steward, P. D. McMillan.
- 1903, third berths had been put into the rooms, but have not proved popular, so are removed, and the lower bunks made into doubles where practical (COR722).
- September 1903, taken out of service due to very low water; she is considered "an expensive boat to operate, and a poor carrier in low water ..." (COR722)
- October 1903, abandoned at Whitehorse; she had too much draft for the Yukon conditions. Never launched again.
- 1904 season crew: Master, Captain Shaver [he must have been moved, because she was not launched] (COR722)
- 1904, Anglian, Bailey, Yukoner and Zealandian "seem to have passed their days of usefulness for economical reasons in these waters." (COR722).
- winter 1928, still listed as being sidetracked at Whitehorse.
- 1949, used as lumber storage shed at Whitehorse (MacBride).
- December 1957, the Yukoner has been dismantled for firewood (Oakland Tribune, Dec. 15, 1957).
Ref: "YA" is the Yukon Archives; COR722 and COR723 are White Pass & Yukon Route corporate record files held there and the GOV are government records.
"Berton" is Klondike by Pierre Berton.
"KN" is the Klondike Nugget newspaper.