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The Yukon River Sternwheeler Prospector

by Murray Lundberg

Northern Ships and Shipping

The information on the Prospector 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 Dawson Daily News (DDN), the Klondike Nugget (KN), and the Whitehorse Star (Star).

  • Canadian Shipping Registry #107865

  • wooden sternwheeler; 110.9 feet long, with 22.2 foot beam and 4.5 foot hold. Gross tonnage 263, registered as 165 tons.

  • powered by a pair of horizontal high-pressure engines built in 1901 by Victoria Machinery Depot; the cylinders had 12 inch diameter and 48 inch stroke, developing 9.6 NHP.

  • 1901, built at Whitehorse by the Stewart River Company; William E. Meed was in charge of all operations (MacBride and others report that she was built by Emil Stauf and H.E. Ridley, but they were merely trustees for the company - see letter from Meed's daughter in YA Search File).

  • operated on the side streams by the Stewart River Company; she was the first steamer to reach the head of the Macmillan River.

  • the "greyhound of the Yukon" (DDN, May 26, 1902). "Exceptionally light of draft and is one of the fastest steamers on the river" (DDN,June 9, 1904).

  • October 16, 1901, left Dawson "... for Whitehorse, with 40 passengers and a small quantity of freight for way points. She will winter on the upper end of the run and next season will engage extensively in the Stewart river trade." (KN)

  • 1902, owned by R.P. McMillan (Affleck).

  • March 1902, W.M.Meade [W.E.Meed?], one of the owners of the PROSPECTOR, was married in England in January, and has now returned to Whitehorse (Star,Mar.22).

  • May 1902, had accommodations for 90 people added to the upper deck; it was built of 3/8" cedar to keep the weight down. The galley was enlarged as well, and she still has a dining room that runs the length of the boat.

  • May 24, 1902, ad in the Dawson Daily News

  • May 25, 1902, ran the 30 miles from Indian River to Dawson in 1 hour, 33 minutes. She carried a broom on her masthead as a sign that she was the fastest boat on the river.

  • May 27, 1902, took the Bellevue/Beaudette party to Moose Cache, where the trail to the new Duncan Creek goldfield near Mayo started; they took a large quantity of hose, and were supposed to be planning extensive work (Sun, May 31).

  • 1902 and 1903, rented ways at Dawson from the British Yukon Navigation Co. for the 2 winters; paid $650 per year, plus provided a security guard (COR722)

  • October 20, 1903, last steamer to reach Dawson through the ice - read a lengthy article published in The Yukon Sun the next day (and a photo by Goetzman of her unloading) here.

  • June 3, 1904, first steamer of the year to reach Whitehorse from Dawson; the run was made in 5 1/2 days, with about 60 stops along the way. Captain Jack Shannon and pilot Con Meyers were in command.

  • 1905-1906, wintered at Klondike City (YA map H-2321). She was still apparently owned independently.

  • purchased by the British Yukon Navigation Company (n.d.).

  • May 1906, has been completely repainted; now has red trim (DDN, May 14).

  • 1908, operated by the Stewart River Navigation Company (COR722).

  • 1909 and 1910, not launched.

  • 1911, used from October 14-30, "to meet the opposition of the Independent Steamer VIDETTE." (COR722).

  • 1911, wrecked below Whitehorse (MacBride).

  • 1912, machinery taken out and used in the NASUTLIN, designed with a shallow draft to replace the PROSPECTOR; the hull may have been used as a barge for a while, then was abandoned, probably in the slough at McIntyre Creek, below Whitehorse. The remains have not been positively identified, and local stories say that she was either broken up for firewood, or sunk just north of the shipyards (Easton).

A photo of the Yukon River sternwheeler Prospector.
This historic postcard is in the collection of Murray Lundberg

The possible hull of the Yukon River sternwheeler Prospector, in 2020.
A hull, possibly that of the Prospector, in the slough at McIntyre Creek in October 2020.