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The Sternwheeler Casca

by Murray Lundberg

    The information on the Casca that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources, primarily the White Pass & Yukon Route corporate records (COR 722) at the Yukon Archives and newspapers including the Bennett Sun (BS), Whitehorse Star (Star), Skaguay Daily Alaskan (SDA) and Atlin Claim (Claim).

  • Canadian Shipping Registry #103919.

  • wooden sternwheeler; 140.0 feet long, 30.5 foot beam, 5 foot hold. Gross tonnage 589.73, registered as 363.74 tons. One deck, carvel build, straight head, square stern. She had accommodation for 53 passengers.

  • engine room was 33 feet long, housing 2 high-pressure engines, built in 1898 by Albion Iron Works of Victoria. The cylinders had 16 inch diameter and 72 inch stroke, developing 17 NHP, 450 IHP. The steel locomotive boiler was built by J.J.Fletcher of New Jersey.

  • 1898, built at Victoria, possibly by William Fitzherbert Bullen, although Affleck reports her as being built by the Esquimalt Marine Railway Company, for Edgar Dewdney and Arnold Pike of the Casca Trading & Transportation Company.

  • 1898, in command of Captain Steve Martin and pilot Jack Green.

  • 1898-1899, operated on the Stikine River (Affleck).

  • 1899, ran one trip up the Skeena River, having been diverted while returning from the Stikine to Victoria. The Yukon River sternwheeler Casca - click to enlarge the image.

  • 1898-1900, wintered in Victoria (Affleck).

  • 1901, bought by Bremner & Adair Bros. of Dawson; in July-August, run from Victoria to Dawson (Affleck). Operated on upper river run.

  • n.d., sold to Ironside, Rennie & Campbell of Vancouver.

  • 1902, owned by Rennie & Company; renting ways at Whitehorse from the BYN for $900 (Star,May 21; COR722).

  • May 1902, completely repainted and redecorated.

  • June 25 1903, arrived in Dawson in command of Captain Bailey; she had broken her rudder in the Thirty Mile due to low water. She carried 425 sheep, 48 horses and 11 passengers (Yukon Sun, June 26).

  • 1904, sold to Otto R. Bremner of London, Ontario (Affleck).

  • 1904, in command of Captain Wallace; purser S. D. Nesbitt.

  • 1904, BYN paid $11,000 to Casca's owners for hauling freight (COR723).

  • 1904, photo of her steaming downstream, with a deckload of wood, in McLain, Page 35.

  • 1905, purchased by the British Yukon Navigation Company; she is considered an excellent upstream towboat, but not a good backer, so downstream loads are kept light. "As a passenger boat she is second only to the Dawson and Selkirk." BYN "spent considerable money on the Casca as she was not up to our standard of good repair when taken over from former owners." After renovations, fuel consumption dropped from 150 cords for a round trip, to 113 cords. (COR722)

  • 1905, CANADIAN, CASCA, COLUMBIAN and VICTORIAN converted to burn coal from the Tantalus mine: BONANZA KING is already on coal.

  • 1906, house raised 30 inches (COR722)

  • August 8 1906, crown sheet on boiler blew; new boiler installed (COR722).

  • 1907, the boiler from the destroyed COLUMBIAN was retubed and installed in the CASCA as part of a $36,000 overhaul (COR722).

  • September 1 1907, while coming through Five Fingers with the barge CARMACKS, the barge swung sideways; in trying to stop the barge from hitting the cliffs, CASCA's stern hit a rock, breaking 5 buckets on the wheel and the rudder blades. Repairs cost $110.90 (COR722).

  • 1909 season crew: Master, F.B.Turner; pilot, John Murray; mate, Bragg; second mate, Campbell; chief engineer, J.R.P.Gaudin; second engineer, Roberts; purser, A.L.Wilson; steward, Schillinglaw.

  • June 9 1909, sent to the head of Lake Lebarge to sluice out a deeper channel with her wheel; job was successful (COR722).

  • 1909, 2 rooms added to the after part of the Texas deck, at a cost of $247.30 (COR722).

  • May 19 1910, took the Canadian-Alaska Boundary Survey party of 100 horses and 90 men from Yukon Crossing to Sheep Creek, 15 miles below Eagle (COR722).

  • June 14 1910, hit a rock in the Thirty Mile River; both boat and the barge BIG SALMON were sunk. Both were raised and repaired; CASCA cost $3,008.17, BIG SALMON $164.13. Replaced by the CANADIAN (COR722).

  • 1910-1911, wintered at Hootalinqua.

  • 1911, "practically worn out and useless ..." The house was lifted and a new hull built under it; with new machinery and the house renovated, the cost was $37,748.44. The rebuild was so extensive that the resulting boat is considered to be a new boat, CASCA No.2, although she retained the old Registry number.

  • the old hull was converted to landing barge for use on Lake Lebarge. Lawrence (p.117) states that the barge was later used as a dock at Lower Lebarge.

  • hull remains at Lower Lebarge, 58 miles below Whitehorse (1995)

Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers

Northern Ships and Shipping