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The Sternwheeler Tutshi

by Murray Lundberg

    The information on the Tutshi 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), government records (GOV), and the Whitehorse Star newspaper at the Yukon Archives.

    The sternwheeler Tutshi at Carcross, Yukon
  • C.S.Reg. #138965, registered at Vancouver.
  • wooden sternwheeler; 167 feet long, 35.25 foot beam, 6.35 foot hold. Gross tonnage 1,040.51, registered as 746.31 tons. Three decks, carvel build, straight head and square stern, with 6 bulkheads and no keel. Licenced for 135 passengers, with first class accommodation for 80.
  • the engine room was 35.5 feet long, housing 2 horizontal high-pressure steam engines built (possibly in 1898) by Dubuque Iron Works, Dubuque, Iowa, fired with wood originally. Engines were single-cylinder, 16 inch diameter, 84 inch stroke, producing 17 1/3 NHP, 450 BHP. She was capable of 13 knots.
  • 1917, designed and built by the British Yukon Navigation Company's construction foreman A.E. Henderson, for the Atlin Lake tourist trade, in combination with the TARAHNE and the Atlin Inn.
  • Launched at Carcross Tuesday, June 12, 1917. Christened by Miss Mazie Cochran (Star, June 15).
  • first trip left Carcross June 14, under command of Captain James Roberts; pilot was Captain I.B.Sanburn; chief engineer, James Lauderdale, second engineer, Fred Vey; purser, Phil Lacy; and chief steward, A.Golden. As soon as the TUTSHI was launched, the GLEANER was taken out of service.
  • operated mainly as a tourist boat, had a crew of 29. She could also move nearly double the freight that the GLEANER had been able to handle, "at practically the same cost." (COR722).
  • 1916-1917, the main BYN Carcross ways were moved from their old location 3-4 miles below town, to a location near the railway. During the summer of 1917, the ways were permanently fixed, and extended to accommodate the TUTSHI.
  • 1917, moved 1,005 tons of ore from the re-opened Venus Mine to Carcross (COR722).
  • 1917-1918, GLEANER is on the ways, TUTSHI wintered in the water.
  • 1918, on her last trip, grounded 1 mile below Carcross. Crews were unable to get her off due to the falling water level, and she was left there until summer (COR722). Captain Roberts was fired as a result of the grounding.
  • 1919, made 2 trips to the Venus Mine, with equipment in and ore out (COR722).
  • 1922, Texas house extended for more rooms, and quarters for the Steward's crew quarters moved to the main deck, their former rooms being converted to passenger rooms; she can now accommodate 110 passengers (COR722).
  • 1924, busy with the re-opening of the Engineer Mine; 70 men have been put to work at the mine (COR722).
  • 1925, converted to oil; oil tanks taken from the ALASKA. "This work was deemed necessary to protect out tourist business. Wood can only be secured for the Tutshi at points which necessitate her taking on wood during the night. The noise and disturbance incident to this work resulted in numerous complaints from tourists berthed on the main deck and right over where the wood was dumped. ...The fuel camps were also located on rocky beaches and there was always a danger to the boat every time she landed at the camps." (COR722).
  • 1926, 2 more rooms added to the Texas deck; "her Texas house is now as far aft as it can go ..." (COR723)
  • 1927, received a pair of horizontal, compound, non-condensing steam engines formerly in the SEATTLE No.3. They were built in 1898 by Drydock Engine Works of Detroit, with a cylinder diameter of 14 7/16 inches on the low pressure side, 22 1/4 on the high pressure, and a stroke of 72 inches. A steel locomotive type boiler built in 1898 by Polson Iron works of Toronto was capable of 170 pounds pressure while loaded. A fuel saving of 30% resulted (COR723).
  • September 19 1927, a special tourist trip taken from Carcross to Conrad (COR723)
  • 1928, hull sheathed in iron, and condensor added to improve engine efficiency (COR723)
  • 1929-1930, wintering in the water at Carcross.
  • 1930-1931, on the Carcross-Taku run Monday, Thursday and Saturday, to Ben-My-Chree on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • 1932, GLEANER was sidetracked and removed from BYN inventory; TUTSHI wintered on the ways (COR723).
  • 1936 season crew: Master, John McDonald; First Mate, Frank Waller; Second Mate, A.J. "Shorty" Dodds; Chief Engineer, J.I.Marshall; Second Engineer, George Rose; Chief Steward, "Lofty" James; Purser Geoff Bidlake; Freight Clerk, B.F. "Fred" Dunn - see photo at YA Dunn collection, 83/55, #1.
  • March 1938, the White Pass & Yukon Route published a brochure for passengers on the West Taku Arm excursion from Carcross to Ben-My-Chree, describing the points of particular interest along the route. You can see the entire brochure here.
  • 1938 and 1939 seasons crew: Master, John McDonald; First Mate, F.Waller; Second Mate, A.J.Dodds; Chief Engineer, J.I.Marshall; Second Engineer, George Ross; Purser, K.D.Briggs; Assistant Purser, J.Fox; Steward, A.E.James (Star,May 5)
  • 1942-ca.1947, on the ways at Carcross (H.Jones).
  • put on the ways at Carcross in 1955.
  • renovated as a tourist information centre.
  • July 25 1990, burned; the fire started at about 12:25 am, and within 2 hours the boat was reduced to ashes and twisted metal.
  • August-September 1996, the Tutshi remains were stabilized, the site was "cleaned up," and much of the machinery buried at the old Carcross dump; authorized by Heritage Branch.

  • photo of Tutshi (YA #4305)
  • photo of Tutshi at the Engineer Mine (YA #4144)
  • photo of Tutshi and Gleaner at Carcross (YA #3142)
  • 1927 Inspection Certificate for the Tutshi (YA: GOV 1684, f.77)
  • photo of the wheelhouse and engine room of the Tutshi, 1936 (YA: Fredd Dunn collection, 83/55)
  • photo of Tutshi in winter quarters at Carcross (YA: Fred Dunn collection, 83/55, #12)
  • Colour postcard of the Tutshi at Carcross with an unknown barge, ca.1956 (YA: Northland Dept. Store, PHO 224, 80/96, #9)
  • Kodachrome slide of the Tutshi on the bank of the Nares River in 1964, by an unknown photographer.

Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers

Northern Ships and Shipping