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The Yukon River sternwheeler Florence S.

by Murray Lundberg

Northern Ships and Shipping

The information on the Florence S. that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources including the Dawson Daily News (DDN).

  • U.S. Registry #121085; Canadian Shipping Registry #107857.

  • iron-hull sternwheeler; 75 feet long, with 16 foot beam and 3.5 foot hold. Gross tonnage 100.2, registered as 50 tons.

  • powered by a pair of steam engines.

  • 1898, built at San Francisco, assembled at St. Michael by owner, Captain J. E. Fairbairn. Affleck says she was built at St. Michael by Moran Bros., for the Seattle-Yukon Transportation Company.

  • September 23, 1898, first arrived at Dawson (MacBride).

  • 1900, transferred to Canadian registry.

  • 1900, on the Whitehorse-Dawson run. On May 16, following an all-out race with the Flora, she was the first boat to near the Dawson dock, but lost the race when the shore crew missed her thrown line. She was in command of Captain Fairbairn, but is to be replaced by Syd Barrington; the boat "is consigned to Craden & Wilcox" (Sun, May 22).

  • July 21, 1900, capsized in the Thirty Mile River, just upstream from Hootalinqua, while under command of Captain Syd C. Barrington. The steward, 19-year-old Walter Monnastes of Skagway, a passenger, Mrs. Stewart of Victoria and her baby were drowned. It is thought that some heavy freight shifted as she went around a corner at about noon, she rolled completely over. There were 25-30 passengers; most of them were on the top deck at the time, and were able to get into the shallow water safely. The Bailey was close behind, attempting a speed record; she picked up the survivors (Tribune, July 21). Monnastes is buried at what is now called the Gold Rush Cemetery in Skagway. Read a lengthy and very detailed article from the Dawson Daily News here, and a brief article from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer of August 4, 1900 here.

  • February 1901, Doc Cleveland of Skagway has raised $40-50,000 in Dawson to raise and rebuild her (Star,Feb.13).

  • successfully raised in 1901, operated on the lower river.

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

  • 1905-1906, operated on the Tanana River (Affleck).

  • 1907-1909, operated on the Fairbanks-Innoko run by Captain Smythe (MacBride).

  • ended life as a barge, operated by the Black Transportation Company.

A photo of the Yukon River sternwheeler Florence S.
The Florence S. arriving at Dawson ca. 1900. Photo by H. J. Woodside (Yukon Archives #480).