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The Army Laundry at Whitehorse, 1944

Arctic & Northern Military History and Issues

The Whitehorse Star Friday, January 14, 1944

    A well-equipped completely modern laundry and dry cleaning plant now stands on the banks of the Lewes River near McCrae. This project is operated by the Quartermaster Corps.

    The plant has two seventy-five horsepower boilers. At present only one is in operation, burning coal. The other is being equipped to burn oil.

    "Factory-style" planning is in effect throughout. Wide entry doors through which trucks bring their loads of laundry are next to the marking machines. A battery of six of these machines provide quick (12 to 15 bundles per hour, each) permanent stamping of all garments received.

    Wheeled QMC laundry baskets roll from the receiving and marking departments to the nearby series of four wash wheels. Three of these washers are belt-driven from the common power source, while the fourth has a separate motor. One hundred and seventy-five sheets may be put into one of these wash wheels at a time.

    A unit of four extractors rough-dries the clean laundry. Close by is a battery of eight driers which complete the transition from a pile of dirty laundry of sparkling white clothing.

    Three check-out men handle the laundry from here. Their department is in almost the same spot the laundry was received. The articles to be washed make a complete circuit of the building and end up ready to be returned to their owners. There is no waste-motion or non-essential movement of laundry - it is essentially an "assembly line" process.

    The dry cleaning plant is housed in a separate building a short distance from the laundry.

    Two complete "wash" units, but in series, comprise the first step in the cleaning process. Lt. H. E. Herron, QMC. officer directly in charge of this plant, explained that the washers are connected in series for the purpose of pumping cleaning solvent back and forth, in and out etc.

    Four tumblers or driers form the next unit. Here the freshly cleaned garments are partially dried. An imposing array of pressers completes the dry cleaning operation.

    When field jackets are cleaned, a special wash wheel replaces the water-repellant solution. This process restores the garments to their original state.

    Specially built dust-proof boxes are used to ship the cleaned and pressed garments to units many miles up and down the Alaska Highway.

    Three-score men of the laundry detachment live in new barracks nestled on the river bank. Everything in the barracks and mess hall is as ship-shape as the plant the men work in.

    "On The Banks of The Yukon" might well be the theme song for this unit. Their new home is the most scenic of all the stations in the Whitehorse area.

The 'Army Laundry' in April 2019
The "Army Laundry" in April 2019.