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The Sternwheeler Casca No. 2

by Murray Lundberg

Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers

Northern Ships and Shipping

    The information on the Casca No. 2 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) and Yukon Government files (GOV) at the Yukon Archives and newspapers including the Whitehorse Star (Star) and Mayo Miner.

  • Canadian Shipping Registry #103919

  • wooden sternwheeler; 161.0 feet long, with 37.0 foot beam and 5.5 foot hold. Gross tonnage 1,078.64 tons. One deck, carvel build, straight head and square stern, with 6 bulkheads. Gross tonnage 1,078.64, registered as 790.34 tons. Licenced for 180 passengers in 1927, 152 passengers in 1928, 144 passengers from 1929-1934 (GOV1684).

  • engine room was 32 feet long, housing a pair of horizontal high-pressure engines built ca.1898 by Albion Iron Works of Victoria, and a steel locomotive boiler built in 1898 by J.J. Fletcher of New Jersey. The engine cylinders were 16 inch diameter, 72 inch stroke, developing 17 BHP, 450 IHP.

  • 1911, built at Whitehorse by Master Builder A.E. Henderson, for the British Yukon Navigation Company, at a cost of $37,748.44. The house of the first Casca was lifted off the old hull and used as a frame for the new boat.

  • trial trip taken on September 2, 1911, under command of Captain Charley Bloomquist; came from Lake Lebarge to Whitehorse in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 minutes faster than any steamer before (Star,Sept.8). The first regular trip left Whitehorse on September 15 (COR722).

  • operated on upper river run as company's flagship. Used for most excursions.

  • 1912 crew: Master, Captain Charles Bloomquist.

  • July 10, 1912, being inspected by Messrs. Kinghorn and Robinson, Dominion Inspectors of hulls and boilers (DDN)

  • October 3-14 1914, quarantined at Dawson; some of her passengers had come into contact with someone with scarlet fever (COR722).

  • 1915, 2 crewmen were drowned; no details in COR722.

  • 1916, the smoking saloon was moved aft, and the former location was made into an observation room. Four passenger rooms were added to the Texas deck.

  • June 19 1916, with White Horse, took the first of the successful Midnight Sun excursions to Fort Yukon (COR722).

  • 1917, due to liquor prohibition laws, the bars were removed and the space converted to staterooms on the Casca, Dawson, Selkirk and White Horse. The same boats also had false ceilings installed in the rooms on the Texas deck to make them cooler in the summer (COR722).

  • September 1918, the boiler from the Lightning was installed. This was probably the one that ended up in the Casca No.3, a steel locomotive boiler built in 1907 by Polson Iron Works of Toronto.

  • On October 25, 1918, 87 employees of the White Pass & Yukon Route died in the sinking of the Princess Sophia, including 13 crew members of the Casca: F. Aftaiken, deckhand; N.G. Blythe, waiter; R.C. Hawes, chief engineer; G.S. Leavitt, deckhand; C. McCrait, steward; Thomas Neilson, fireman; W. Parsons; waiter; H.A. Robinson, waiter; H. Rutherford, waiter; W.W. Shillinglaw, chief steward; Fred Smith, fireman; P. Vint, second engineer; B. Wilkinson, second mate.

  • 1919, both Princess Alice and Princess Mary arrive at Skagway every Wednesday; Casca is scheduled to meet the passengers from those ships (COR722).

  • 1919, "the forward part of Casca saloon deck was made into a ladies' saloon and observation room similar to that on the Tutshi, and fitted with a circular seat. All windows in this room were lowered to give passengers an unobstructed view of the scenery. Owing to heavy booking for the Midnight Sun trip, we extended the rooms on Texas Deck as far aft as there was room for them, making an addition of six new rooms. An up to date bake room and cold storage box were built on the main deck." (COR722).

  • 1921, an unnamed deckhand was lost overboard (COR722)

  • 1922, Texas house was extended for more passenger rooms; she can now accommodate 93 passengers (COR722).

  • 1928, had 2 small rooms added to the Texas house for the Pilot and Second Engineer; the rooms they had previously were converted to passenger rooms, as they were presumably too large for crew (COR723)

  • May 28, 1928, holed at Hellsgate; she was beached before sinking. The hole was repaired by building a dam around the area (COR723).

  • 1928, with Aksala and White Horse, "required wheel and rudder work nearly every trip they were in port. Heavy ore loads and low water at Hellsgate and Kirkman were largely responsible for this." (COR723).

  • 1930, made 18 round trips from Whitehorse to Dawson and back; the record is still held by the Selkirk, with 19 trips in 1905. Casca's last trip was done in 6 days, 55 min., a record for that time of year (October 6-12).

  • 1932, "considerable rot" was removed from the hull, which was then sheathed in iron (COR723).

  • August 13, 1933, the wheel shaft broke, and she was taken out of service, replaced by Klondike. The wheel shaft was not repaired until the spring of 1934 (COR723).

  • 1936, registered tonnage increased to 830.92 tons, passenger rating dropped to 142 (GOV1684).

  • July 9, 1936, wrecked at Rink Rapids. The wreck occurred just 300 yards below the wreckage of the Dawson, which sunk there in October 1927. There were only 10 men and 6 women passengers on board, and they were all taken off immediately in small boats, and rowed to Yukon Crossing, from where the WP&YR Fairchild flew them to Whitehorse or Mayo. Most of the large amount of cargo was damaged, and 6 bags of mail were lost (The Mayo Miner, July 10).