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The Yukon Sternwheeler Bailey

by Murray Lundberg

Northern Ships and Shipping

The information on the Bailey that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources, primarily government records and the White Pass & Yukon Route corporate records (COR 722) at the Yukon Archives, and newspapers.
  • Canadian Shipping Registry #107715, registered at Vancouver.

  • wooden sternwheeler; 110.0 feet long, with 21.7 foot beam and 5.0 foot hold. Gross tonnage was 192.56, registered as 132.08 tons. One deck, one mast, carvel build, straight head, square stern. She had accommodation for 24 passengers.

  • the engine room was 24 feet long, housing 2 horizontal high-pressure engines, built in 1899 by Summers Iron Works of Everett, Washington. The engines were 2 cylinder, with 9 inch diameter (Affleck says 10 inch) and 54 inch stroke, producing 6.6 NHP.

  • 1899, built at Lake Bennett by Louis Pacquet of Portland, for Captains Steve Bailey and Irwin B. Sanburn.

  • June 4, 1899: "Lake Bennett is slowly rising and word is that the steamer Gleaner, Captain John Irving's boat, would try and get into the water and start for a trip to Atlin today. That is if the weather was favorable, which gives every indication of modifying. The water in Lake Bennett lacked eight inches of being high enough to permit launching the steamers. Should the weather turn warm and should the rise of eight inches of water he reached by tomorrow, Capt. Bailey and the Canadian Development Company will make an attempt to launch their respective boats, namely, the Bailey and Australian. The water at Cariboo Crossing is reported so low that it can be waded, and no steamer could possibly pass there at present. A rise of several feet will be required to make this crossing navigable." (Skagway Daily Alaskan)

  • n.d., sold to Algernon Stracey (Affleck).

  • September 1899, running from Bennett to Canyon City "every other day" (Skagway Daily Alaskan, Sept. 9).

  • early 1900, busy hauling rail from Bennett to Carcross.

  • n.d., sold to Henry Maitland Kersey of the Canadian Development Company.

  • May 23, 1900: "The Canadian Development company will send the steamers Australian and Bailey through White Horse rapids as soon as lake navigation opens up. The Alaskan says the problem of just how to get them through safely has not yet been definitely settled." (The Douglas Island News)

  • July 1, 1900: "The steamer Danube, which arrived to-night from the north, brings news of the total wreck of the river steamer Reaper [Zealandian] in an attempt to get her through the upper Yukon rapids. She went through Miles canyon all well, but was caught in the swift water below, being hurled on the rocks in Squaw rapids. She belonged to the White Pass Railway. The Bailey was safely taken through the rapids." (The Examiner, San Francisco). Despite this report, the Zealandian worked the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Eagle until 1904.

  • July 2, 1900: "The steamers Bailey and Nora made the run through the rapids safely last week. It is five miles through. The Bailey backed water at places, and at other places raced under full head and was fifty minutes completing the five miles. Scows, which take no precaution to hold back, go through in the shorter time of thirty minutes. The building of the railroad below White Horse makes it unnecessary to have so many steamers as heretofore on the lakes, hence, several large steamers are being taken to the river proper." (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • most of 1900 season, on the Whitehorse-Dawson run. Medical inspections were required as she arrived at Dawson on July 7, 15, 23, August 11 and 20. After August 24, checks were done at log Cabin (GOV 1684, f.71).

  • 1900-1901, wintered at Lower Lebarge (White Horse Star, May 1).

  • April 1, 1901, all 17 CDCo. steamers were bought by the British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN); this included 3 Stikine River boats, 4 lake boats, and 10 Yukon River steamers.

  • May 24, 1901, Bailey was the first boat of the season into Dawson City. The Dawson Weekly News published a lengthy report which we have posted on a separate page.

  • 1901, operated on the upper river run; occasion trips were made to Mason's Landing, the supply centre for the new Livingstone Creek placer fields, but the BYN refused to give regular service (Gordon Bennett, MSS 040).

  • May 19 1902, second boat of the season at Dawson; arrived 40 minutes after the Sybil (White Horse Star, May 21). She was then the first boat to Whitehorse, arriving on the 24th, 2 days after Laberge opened (1902 NWMP Annual Report).

  • 1902, out of service for half of the season due to a lack of cargo (COR722).

  • 1903, used on the Dawson-Eagle run; caught in Dawson for the winter when navigation closed with no warning (they expect manageable ice to run for at least a week first). She wintered in the ice in front of the BYN docks, receiving "nominal damage" in the spring (COR722).

  • 1903 was the last year she was put in service. In 1904, she was launched but not used; in October she was put on the ways at Whitehorse for the final time.

  • December 15, 1903, the WP&YR applied to the Customs office at Whitehorse for a refund of the $23.44 paid for the annual Inspection Certificate for the Bailey; in late April, the fee had been eliminated (GOV 1678, f.11-1).

  • April 5, 1904: "Chief Engineer Hutchison, of the stern wheeler Victorian was a passenger north on the Princess May and reached Whitehorse yesterday. He left for down the river to prepare the stern wheeler Bailey and Clifford Sifton for the summer traffic." (The Daily Evening Star)

  • May 9, 1904, the river dropped 10 feet in 6 hours, the Bailey was one of several boats and barges left high and dry by the drop (DDN,May 9)

  • 1904, Anglian, Bailey, Yukoner and Zealandian "seem to have passed their days of usefulness for economical reasons in these waters." (COR722). The Bailey was towed from Dawson to Whitehorse and put up on the ways in June.

  • 1909, her boiler put into the Gleaner (COR722).

  • 1931, demolished at Whitehorse (MacBride).

  • April 28, 1932, removed from Shipping Registry.

Sternwheeler Bailey in August 1899
The Bailey running Whitehorse Rapids in 1900. Peele album #45.

Sternwheeler Bailey in August 1899
The Bailey ready for an excursion to Mason's Landing, Hootalinqua, ca. 1902. Photo by Hamacher.

Crew of the sternwheeler Bailey in August 1899
The crew of the Bailey, August 1899. Photo by H. C. Barley (Yukon Archives #5194 - photocopy)

Sternwheeler Bailey ca. 1900
The Bailey ca. 1900. Photo by Anton Vogee (Yukon Archives #240 - photocopy)