ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth


The Sternwheeler Nasutlin

by Murray Lundberg

Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers

Northern Ships and Shipping

    The information on the Nasutlin 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 Whitehorse Star (Star).

  • Canadian Shipping Registry #133738, registered at Vancouver.

  • wooden sternwheeler; 115 feet long, 27.16 foot beam, 3.83 foot hold. Gross tonnage was 405.39, registered as 256.02 tons. One deck, carvel build, straight head and square stern, with 4 bulkheads.

  • engine room was 24 feet long, housing the machinery from the Prospector, a pair of horizontal high-pressure, 2-cylinder engines built in 1901 by the Victoria Machinery Depot; the cylinders had 12 inch diameter and 48 inch stroke, developing 13 NHP (Affleck says 9.6 NHP). The boilers, also by Victoria Machinery Depot, were capable of 200 IHP.

  • fall 1912, designed and partially built at Whitehorse by the British Yukon Navigation Company, under the direction of construction foreman A. E. Henderson; she was then towed to Lower Laberge to be completed in the spring (COR722). She was intended as a shallow-draft boat to replace the Prospector. Licenced for 79 passengers in 1928 (GOV1684).

  • she was named for Nisutlin Bay, an inlet of Teslin Lake at Teslin - in the early days, "Nasutlin" was a common spelling of the bay's name.

  • nicknamed the "Nasty" (MacBride).

  • June 13, 1913, Nasutlin first appears in The Star: "Officers and passengers on the steamers Vidette and Nasutlin which arrived yesterday morning from Dawson brought word of a rich placer strike having been made in the country between the heads of the White and Tanana rivers. According to the story, two men washed out upward of $900 in two days."

  • June 20, 1913, the success of Nasutlin as a shallow water boat is noted in The Star: "The second of the new steamers, the Yukon, sailed for Fairbanks, Alaska, yesterday morning at 10 o'clock. She carried eighteen passengers and the banner cargo of freight this year so far, having 200 tons, the greater part of which was taken down as far as Hootalinqua and over all the shallow water, on the steamer Nasutlin."

  • July 11, 1913: "The new White Pass steamer Nasutlin has been laid up during the present high water and her crew have been placed on the Canadian which left with a barge for Dawson Tuesday mght, the Canadian being larger and more suited to barge towing than the Nasutlin, the latter being better suited to early and late seasons when the water is at a low stage." (Star)

  • July 28, 1913, Nasutlin sails from Dawson for the head of navigation on the White River, carrying stampeders bound for the new Chisana strike. Captain C. A. Gardner of Sardis, B.C. is Master.

  • August 26, 1913, Nasutlin sails from Dawson for the head of navigation on the White River again. Included among her freight is a sawmill weighing about 15 tons, belonging to Radford, McLean, Hirdning, and Clements. (Dawson News)

  • September 12, 1913: "The Steamer Nasutlin is still on the White river, the low stage of water making it somewhat difficult to land her cargo at Donjek. Two launches will likely be sent from this place to her assistance, the latter to be used in lightering the freight." (Star)

  • October 3, 1913, Nasutlin sails from Dawson for the mouth of the White River, where a new community is developing. "E. Schink, the Dawson trader, is erecting a large warehouse and roadhouse at the mouth of the White, and will place several hundred tons of goods there this fall before the close of navigation." (Star)

  • November 7, 1913: "The Steamer Nasutlin arrived here [Whitehorse] on Saturday from Hootalinqua, bringing with her most of the men who have been working at the new ways. Later in the day she left for her winter quarters at the foot of Lake La Barge. The motor launch Sibilla left on Sunday for the purpose of bringing back the crew of the Nasutlin. The launch reached Whitehorse on Monday evening with a full quota of passangers. One can almost say with certainty that navigation on the Yukon river is at an end for tho season of 1913." (Star)

  • May 16, 1914, Nasutlin sails from Lower Laberge for Dawson on her first trip of the season, with freight hauled across the ice by dog and horse teams. (Star, May 22)

  • June 1, 1914, Nasutlin, on her return from Dawson, was the second steamer of the season to cross Lake Laberge. The Canadian was the first, the previous day. (Star, June 5)

  • June 29, 1914: when Nasutlin arrived in Whitehorse, among her freight was a shipment of 19 foxes for one of the fox ranches in the area.

  • October 30, 1914: "Captain S. E. Cromarty and his two husky sons, Sam and Billy, left the latter part ofiast week for their home at Chilliwack, B. C. The captain and both his sons were on the Nasutlin during the early portion of the season and later on the Canadian." (Star)

  • January 22, 1915, Herbert Wheeler, General Manager of the White Pass & Yukon Route stated: "There will be five steamers operated on the upper river this season, Casca, White Horse, Dawson, Selkirk and for the fifth it will be the Nasutlin, Canadian or Bonanza King as occasion demands. All these boats are now in fairly good condition but will require the usual spring overhauling." (Star)

  • May 7, 1915: "Captain S. E. Cromarty who spent the winter on his ranch near Chilliwack, B. C., was among recent arrivals from the outside. He has resumed his position as pilot on the steamer Nasutlin." (Star)

  • May 7, 1915: "The Nasutlin, the smallest of the B. Y. N. river fleet, will sail from the foot of the lake for Dawson tomorrow with passengers and freight. It is not apprehended that she will have any difficulty on account of low water although it will be some time yet before a steamer can cross the bars at the upper end of the lake. Captain Douglass and Pilot S. C. Cromarty will be on the bridge of the Nasutlin, and that means she will get there." She arrived at Dawson on May 11th, an hour behind the Vidette. "Both were delayed at several points on the way down by ice jams and low water." (Star)

  • June 4, 1915: "The steamer Nasutlin arrived at the head of the lake Tuesday night [June 1st] with 35 passengers from Dawson and lower river points. They came on to Whitehorse on the steamer White Horse and the majority of them took Wednesday's train for the outside." (Star)

  • August 6, 1915: "The steamer Nasutlin has gone down the river to Kirkman Bar, almost to Dawson, for the purpose of dynamiting, dredging and dragging out a channel to prevent hinderance to navigation between now and the end of the season. Captain J, O. Williams, 'Dynamite Jack,' has been placed in charge of the work, Captain Douglas being transferred to the Casca to take Captain Williams place until the improvement at Kirkman is completed. Already heavily-laden steamers have been 'scraping' their bottoms while passing over the bar at Kirkman." (Star)

  • October 29, 1915: "Captain and Mrs. J. P. Douglas, the former of the steamers Nasutlin and Canadian, left yesterday for their home in New Westminster." (Star)

  • 1915-1916, wintered on the ways at Lower Laberge (COR722).

  • May 12, 1916: "Four White Pass stages, with about 40 passengers on board, will leave here on Sunday and Monday for Carmacks to catch the steamer Delta and Washburn for the Lower Yukon and Nasutlin for Dawson." (Star)

  • June 2, 1916: "The steamer Nasutlin brought to Dawson 350 tons of silver ore, the first shipment of the 1700 tons pow at Mayo. The ore wili be sent on to the Tacoma smelter via St. Michael on the first Lower Yukon river boat." (Star)

  • September 8, 1916: "The steamer Vidette of the Side Streams Navigation Co., which has been making the Stewart river run this season, came in Monday night with Captain Bailey und Captain Hill Barrington aboard. The officers and crew of the Vidette changed onto the Nasutlin of the White Pass Co. and will leave soon for the Mayo district at the headwaters of the Stewart river, with a dredging outfit destined for Highet creek." (Star)

  • September 28: "The Nasutlin got in [to Dawson] early this morning from Mayo, and will leave tonight on her last trip of the year up the Stewart. She will go as far as Mayo, and will take freight and passengers, and on her return will go to Whitehorse for the winter." (Dawson News)

  • October 13, 1916, the Nasutlin, Washburn, and the Side Streams boat Vidette will spend the winter on the ways at Lower Laberge. (Star)

  • October 27, 1916: "The Dawson and Nasutlin of the White Pass fleet of river steamers, arrived Monday on the last trip of the present season, the former getting in about 9:30 a. m. and the latter early in the afternoon, On account of there being a number of recruits for the Black Yukon contingent on board, who were booked to leave Skagway for the training camp at Sidney on Monday night, the train was held until after the arrival of the Nasutlin." (Star)

  • 1916, had a serious accident on Lake Laberge; no details (COR722).

  • 1917 season crew: Master, Douglas; pilot, Sam Cromarty; mate, Angus McLeod; chief engineer, Paul Bourne; second engineer, D. A. Boyd (elsewhere stated as Marshall); purser, Donnenworth; steward, Thomas P. Walsh (elsewhere stated as Carter); plus 6 deckhands, 2 firemen and 6 waiters. (Star, April 27)

  • 1917, used by BYN on the Whitehorse-Dawson run for a short time, then leased to the Side Streams Navigation Company to be used on the Stewart River.

  • October 19, 1917: "The Seattle No. 3 and Schwatka are on their way from Tanana to Dawson, where they will winter. The Nasutlin will bring the crews of these steamers and a load of passengers, making the last trip from Dawson to Whitehorse." (Star)

  • October 26, 1917: "Wm. McBride of Supt. Gordon's office and Corp. St. Laurant of the R. N. W. M. P. went down in a launch yesterday morning to the head of Lake Lebarge to meet the steamer Nasutlin, to attend to certain necessary preliminaries to expedite the departure of the 20 passengers and 65 members of the crews of the steamers Schwatka and Seattle No. 3 for Skagway to catch the Princess Alice, which was held there until after the arrival of the special train. Corp. St. Laurant went in the capacity of Canadian immigration inspector, while Mr. MeBride paid off the boats' crews before the Nasutlin reached Whitehorse, thereby conserving several hours time." (Star)

  • October 26, 1917, the Nasutlin and Washburn will spend the winter on the ways at Lower Laberge, with Angus McLeod, mate on the Canadian, as watchman. (Star)

  • November 2, 1917: "Capt. Bailey and Chief Engineer Crosby of the. White Pass steamer Nasutlin, left for Seattle Tuesday." (Star)

  • November 30, 1917: "A telegram announcing the sudden death from heart failure of Geo. W. Waltenbaugh, chief engineer on the steamer Nasutlin, was received here Tuesday evening. From what can be learned Mr. Waltenbaugh was visiting with relatives in Seattle, and it was while walking along the streets of that city that he was summoned by the grim messenger. His home was in San de Fuca, Wash., where he leaves a wife and one child. At the time of his death Mr. Waltenbaugh was between 50 and 60 years of age. He was pioneer steamboat engineer on the Upper Yukon river and one of the most popular with all classes of people of the many employes of the White Pass Co." (Star)

  • June 4, 1918: "The Nasutlin, the first boat of the year for Whitehorse, sailed [from Dawson] this afternoon with nine through passengers, including Ed. Reeves, J. Gannon, McdAskill and Frank Vodicka. There was also a small amount of freight." (Star, June 7)

  • September 21, 1918: "An active winter for the Mayo mining district is forecasted in the shipment from Dawson last night on the steamer Nasutlin of fifty tons of supplies. Several tons of that total goes direct to Lookout mountain silver properties, tributary to Mayo, and other supplies will be used by the silver miners on some of the new properties, and others for the general support of those engaged in gold mining and other industries in the district." (Dawson News)

  • On October 25, 1918, 87 employees of the White Pass & Yukon Route died in the sinking of the Princess Sophia, including 1 crew member of the Nasutlin: Capt. J. P. Douglas, master.

  • 1919 season crew: Henry Bailey, master; Sam Cromarty, pilot; Alex McDonald, second mate; B. Jarvis, deckhand; A. McAuley, deckhand; W. H. Skaling, deckhand; K. MeLeod, deckhand; D. McDonald, deckhand; G. A. Langham, deckhand; J. L. Sansom, purser; R. A. Haws, chief, engineer; J. I. Marshall, second engineer; Albert Faire, fireman; T. P. Walsh, steward: M. Olympus, chef; F. H. Hamlin, second cook; D. Bello, messman; E. C. Hulks, waiter. (Star, April 25)

  • May 5, 1919, Nasutlin was launched at Lower Laberge. She and the Washburn sailed for Dawson on May 14th.

  • June 13, 1919: "The steamer Nasutlin arrived Sunday from Dawson with twenty passengers, most of whom were bound outside.
    Steamer Nasutlin left at 5:30 p.m. Monday, earrying as much freight as she could handle over the Upper LeBarge flats. This freight was transferred to the steamer Casca at Hootalinqua. The Nasutlin towed the barge Innoko, loaded with freight for lower river points, which was turned over to the steamer Alaska at Hootalinqua.
    The Nasutlin arrived from Hootalinqua at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, and left early this morning with the barge Alsek in tow, loaded with freight for Dawson and lower river points. She will transfer all of this cargo to the steamer Dawson at Hootalinqua." (Star)

  • June 20, 1919: "The Nasutlin got away last night for Forty-Mile with a consignment of pipe and machinery for the dredging plant operating there." (Star)

  • July 25, 1919: "Saturday night the Nasutlin took down and turned loose on the Island in Lake Le Barge twenty-five head of horses belonging to the Royal mail service. There is excellent feed on the Island and in addition the animals are not tormented while there by the many varieties of insects and flies that abound and make life almost unbearable for them on the mainland." (Star)

  • August 3, 1919, Nasutlin arrived at Whitehorse with one passenger and is now on the ways for temporary repairs.

  • 1919, overhauled at Whitehorse, but sunk on the next trip. While on the way from Mayo to Long Line Bar to pick up freight cached last fall, she hit a rock near Independence Creek and was holed: "boat was beached before she filled; crew cut timbers in the woods, hauled the Nasutlin out on the bank with her own power, patched up the hole with spare lumber they had on board, launched the boat and continued the trip." (COR722)

  • August 22, 1919: "The Nasutlin was launched at 11 a. m., August 19th, and left for Dawson at 3 a. m., August 20th, towing the barge Teslin. She carried a full cargo of fuel oil and explosives for Dawson and lower river points. Before returning to Whitehorse, the Nasutlin will make a trip to Mayo on the Stewart river with a full load of freight for that point." (Star)

  • September 30, 1919: "The steamer Nasutlin sailed [from Dawson] at 1 o'clock this afternoon on her last trip of the year up the Stewart river. She goes as far as Mayo, and has forty-nine tons of general freight for various ones at that point. She also will take on lumber and spikes at Stewart City for the Highet dredge. The material will be brought to that point by the Selkirk, now en route from Whitehorse. It was shipped recently from Vancouver. Had it not made connections this fall, the dredge would have been delayed in starting up until late next season." (Dawson News)

  • October 10, 1919: "The Nasutlin and Hazel B are up the Stewart river, which is running bank full of heavy ice." (Star)

  • October 13, 1919: "...the steamer Nasutlin got to Mayo safely, and has gone into winter quarters there. ... Dr. W. E. Cockfield, Dominion geologist, who left Mayo at the same time as Messrs. Laning Mc,Carthy and others, arrived in Dawson today via Flat and the Klondike valley. They say the Nasutlin made Mayo Sunday, October 5, and the party for Dawson left Mayo two days later. The crew of the Nasutlin was preparing to mush to Dawson, but Captain Bailey, who was not feeling well, planned to remain there for some time, and also to watch the boat." (Dawson News)

  • October 31, 1919: "The crew of the steamer Nasutlin, with the exception of Capt. Baily, nineteen in number, arrived Saturday [Oct. 25] on the steamer Washburn from Dawson, to which place they had mushed overland from Mayo Landing, on the Stewart river, where they had been forced to tie up for the winter. Capt. Bailey, who was seriously ill with stomach trouble, was unable to make the arduous trip to Dawson and remained in charge of the steamer.

  • October 27, 1919, Captain Bailey died of cancer at Mayo (COR722). See lengthy newspaper reports of his death here.

  • 1920, when the ice was going out, it backed up, and holed the Nasutlin. In early July, after the early freight rush was completed, the CANADIAN went in and raised her; she was taken to Whitehorse for repairs (COR722).

  • ca. October 1, 1920, the Stewart River froze early; Nasutlin had a hard time getting out, at one time getting stuck on an ice floe, which took 3 days to get off. The ice tore the barge Alsek away, and it is expected to be a total loss in the spring. Nasutlin was forced aground at Kirkman by running ice on October 16, and did not get free until the 23rd. The Casca and White Horse were also caught by the ice at Kirkman, and the M. L. Washburn sank, a total loss, while running food and supplies to the boats, which had heavy passenger lists (COR722)

  • 1920-1921, wintered at Lower Laberge.

  • 1921 season crew: Captain Cowley; pilot, Samuel Cromarty

  • May 20, 1921, holed in the Thirty Mile River; she was beached and repaired by the crew (COR722).

  • ca. September 20, 1921, while doing river improvements, hit a rock and sunk in 6 feet of water, 5 miles below Mayo. She was raised and repaired. "The White Pass steamer Nasutlin which has been on the Stewart City-Mayo run this year and which has recently been engaged in removing rocks ftom the upper Stewart channel was wrecked a a few days ago. It appears that while at this work some part of the gear broke and the steamer struck a rock which sunk her. A wrecking utfit wae sent from here on the Dawson and will be taken from Stewart City to the scene of the wreek which is about six miles below Mayo. Bert Fowler, Frank Wilson end Henry Derby went along to assist in the raising of the boat. No details have been received as yet by the local officials of the company as to the seriousness of the accident." ((The Weekly Star, Friday, September 23, 1921)

  • not used 1926-1928; sitting in the water above the Whitehorse Roundhouse.

  • 1929, only used for 3 trips (COR723)

  • May 14, 1941, the Nasutlin set a new record for the earliest date a steamer has been able to leave Whitehorse for downriver points including Dawson. In command of Capt. Marion, master, and Capt. Gardiner, pilot, she had 5 passengers and was pushing a barge laden with heavy equipment.

  • June 6, 1941, Mr. William Marshall, wood-cutter of Selwyn, who arrived at the Whitehorse General Hospital recently in a serious condition, passed away on June 6th. The funeral services were conducted by the Rev. L. G. Chappell, the crew of the Nasutlin acting as pallbearers.

  • 1941, made a trip up the White River as far as the mouth of the Donjek, in connection with the Shusana stampede (MacBride). Captain Gardner took 22 days to make the round trip from the mouth of the White. Sam Cromarty was Pilot, Mate Pooley, Purser Donnenworth, Chief Engineer Bourne, Second Engineer Moir, Steward Carter.

  • "At the time that her keel was laid, she was 30 feet shorter than when I was on her. The maximum load on deck would be 60 tons, but I can't give you a year that she was cut in half and a 30 foot section put in the middle. This increased her capacity to 90 tons, and her registered tonnage to about 507." (Henry Breaden)

  • 1948-1950, Henry Breaden was second mate.

  • 1951 The first mate that fall was Al Olsen, the pilot was Jimmy Wilkinson and the captain was Charles Corquin.

  • Fall 1951, Len Usher (living in Teslin in 2001) was deck boy.

  • Spring 1952, wrecked by ice after being damaged on haulout in late October 1951.

The Yukon sternwheeler Nasutlin
Nasutlin with the Piledriver Barge, by Geoff Bidlake, 1930s (Yukon Archives: Bidlake collection, PHO 234, 83/90, #65)

1928 Inspection Certificate for the Nasutlin
1928 Inspection Certificate for the Nasutlin (Yukon Archives: GOV 1684, f.77). Click the image to open a much larger version in a new window.

Nasutlin in the ice.
Nasutlin in the ice. (Parks Canada, Dack Collection)

Nasutlin hauled out on the Stewart River, 1919.
Nasutlin hauled out after hitting Bailey Reef on August 30, 1919. (Yukon Archives: Roy Minter collection, 92/15, #1021)

Steamboat Nasutlin being lengthened
Nasutlin being lengthened.

Nasutlin's pilothouse at Dawson, 1960
The pilothouse from the Nasutlin at Dawson. Photo by Bea McLeod, ca. 1960 (Yukon Archives: McLeod collection, PHO 169, 82/484)

The Yukon sternwheeler Nasutlin in a Whitehorse mural
Nasutlin was seen struggling through a river full of huge blocks of ice on the side of a small apartment/retail building on 4th Avenue in 2010. The mural has now been painted over.